Article22 September 2022
A Love Story by Dennis Day On the occasion of Charles Street Video's 41st Anniversary On the occasion of Charles Street Video's 41st Anniversary and Panel “Tales from the Edit Suites.”
Article12 September 2022
Look Back in Wonder I first worked at Charles Street Video as a member, editing. (Video)tape was tape; film was film. We made such modernist distinctions then. The twain rarely met in Toronto's low-budget, media artist milieu. I hired an on-line editor* to work with me in CSV's A/B-roll, Betacam-editing “A-Room,” which looked like the cockpit of the space shuttle. I was used to working on a Steenbeck, an old-fashioned, 16mm film-editing machine. CSV had one pioneering digital system, a “DAW,” or digital audio workstation. Konrad Skreta knew how to use it, as did few others.
Later, when I started working-working at CSV (as Paula's managerial replacement, it turns out) we invested in what was starting to become a professional trend in moving image production; a digital NLE, or non-linear editing system. Please understand; a computer to edit picture was head-spinning. That early Avid was small— 6 or 8 hard drives, 4 GB each—and came at an exorbitant price, close to $100g. Nonetheless the future was a train rushing to the platform, and there was no question but that it was digital. At CSV we were proud to be an early adopter of NLEs among artist centres, a point long since rendered meaningless.
Now that everything's a (digital) film, that modernist distinction I mentioned has seemingly collapsed. It sort of seems irrelevant. Agonizing over medium, fetishizing this type of camera over that, perhaps these have always been to broadly miss the point. The joking, maieutic answer to whether or not we had broadcast-quality equipment was, well, do you have a broadcast-quality idea? In any case, the means of production has democratized in the last two decades. The range of voices and practises has hugely diversified, a most welcome development.
As a freelance editor, I helped various artists at CSV. My son, now a pro musician**, tracked an early EP in CSV's recording booth. I'm witness to the fact that hundreds of works were made here, or have been assisted by CSV. Quite possibly my favourite, edited in the A-Room by Su Rynard, is Michael Snow's That/ Cela/ Dat. Like his earlier film, So is This, That/ Cela/ Dat is all text. Intended as a three-screen installation, its word-images were projected simultaneously in the title languages: English, French, Flemish. Self-reflexive, very intelligent, and toying humourously with language, it is a remarkable piece, too little seen. It's exemplary of the rigourous media art that at its best, CSV has always sought to support.
I've remained at CSV much longer than I anticipated I would. It's afforded me the flexibility to pursue my own, decidedly uncommercial work as an artist. As a centre, it's remained true to a do-it-yourself, artist-run culture. I've been lucky to work with a low-turnover team of smart colleagues. And I've always been fascinated by the changing roster of artists moving through the place to use its resources.
The world has become harsher, ever more focused on rapacious commerce, bureaucratic entanglement, and rote standardization, not to mention characterized by profound economic disparity and political dysfunction. So the grassroots represented by small organizations like CSV take on an increased and even outsized importance. Ideally they can delineate a different (head)space. They can speak to alternative, humanistic values. They remind us that the production of art exists on a continuum. Without the modest, artist-driven, d.i.y. ethos that CSV tries to champion, the large, corporately oriented and money-driven sector may exist but without, in a sense, its conscience. It's a question of perspective: which is the obverse and which the reverse side of the coin?
*(That was Paula Fairfield, then one of CSV's two, highly technically competent managers, the other being Su Rynard. When Su left the job, Dennis Day, formerly the in-house editor, became CSV's co-manager with me for a few years, and brought a similar high competence and artistic innovation to bear. Since Dennis's tenure, Greg Woodbury has most ably co-managed CSV.)
**(whose current project is Toronto-based, Badge Époque Ensemble.)
Top photo: An early iteration of the on-line editing (and sound mixing) facility at CSV, the best-known version of which was the "A-Room" at 65 Bellwoods Ave. Note the 1/2" audio tape recorder and the 16-track sound mixer. Artists-at-work unknown.
Bottom photo: Gallery view of Michael Snow's three-channel video installation, That/ Cela/ Dat, from a show at the Jack Shainman Gallery, NYC, 2015. ©Michael Snow.
Article12 September 2022
Three Generations & Forty-One Years A Member’s Tribute Forty-one years! Truth is, I can’t recall life without Charles Street Video. So much to celebrate!
But first, even while remembering the pleasures of achievement and the times of joy, it’s important, before looking back, to acknowledge a recent challenge; the unfair and ill-considered eviction of TMAC (Toronto Media Arts Cluster), of which CSV was a part, by City of Toronto functionaries. This was a heartbreaking instance in Toronto’s long history of artists being forced out of their workspaces. Our cherished community centre for media production was hurt by unwise political manoeuverings and a city that ignored the treasure trove of resources and experience hosted in TMAC’s Lisgar Street premises, casting an unexpected shadow over CSV’s long, eventful history.
The eviction was not only a cruel blow to a highly respected artist-run organisation, in the process a large number of artists, including me, were deprived of the chance to complete our current projects. Fortunately, considering what we’ve overcome, art will prevail, and there are many ground-breaking productions that CSV has made possible, working effectively and modestly to help create the Niagara of media artworks that earned Toronto UNESCO’s 2017 Creative City of Media Arts title (http://www.torontocreativecity.ca)
Thinking about our shared history, whether sitting in front of a bank of monitors timing a dissolve, installing a massive green screen, creating and receiving a “paper edit” by phone during the pandemic lockdown, or preparing a rough edit for a grant application, the works that continue to emerge owe their shape and impact to CSV’s immensely skilled and empathetic production and administration staff. The kind of cumulative goodwill that Charles Street Video has gathered over the decades can’t be reconstituted overnight.
Remembering the remarkable range of work that CSV and its skilled editors have created, what I appreciated most was the wonderful camaraderie of working with colleagues who, in addition to mastering the equipment, knew what I was trying to achieve almost before I did.
When lists of credits from four decades of my productions were retrieved, each was like discovering a different autobiographical map, evoking the working process involved, rediscovering a previous self, and providing a lens on the video community as well as my life at the time. So many colleagues helped create these works, some no longer with us and deeply missed. What emerges from reading these names and many more, is the sense of collaborative good will that permeated these productions a willingness to pitch in with time, expertise, courageous performance, and heartfelt encouragement.
It is this supportive spirit that distinguishes CSV from other production facilities; the direct experience of working shoulder-to-shoulder with an editor who has insight into one’s work and is master of the technology. I imagine them saying, “What you want is a slow dissolve,” or ”Let me intensify the saturation,” or “These two passages can be interwoven,” and I loved hearing them describe in techno-speak what I’d dreamt of doing but didn’t know how.
CSV has risen to the challenges imposed by foolish City decisions and is setting a standard of what a supportive production centre can make happen. Qualities of patience, humour, deep awareness of artworld frontiers and engineering initiatives characterise the CSV staff, each a poet in their own way, whose insights and skills have shaped forty-one years and three generations of significant media art production.
So much to celebrate!!!
Top Image: Master editors Konrad Skreta, completing Gladstone Ballroom presentation of the Body Missing salt mine video installation, 2017 (www.bodymissing-Altaussee.org), and Dennis Day, tweaking key passages for ONCE NEAR WATER: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive, 2008
Bottom Image: Vera Frenkel with artist and key protagonist Tim Whiten and CSV production team, on completion of The Secret Life of Cornelia Lumsden: A Remarkable Story, Part 11: And, Now, the Truth, 1979
Article09 September 2022
Flowing in all directions: Home Made Visible Eight years ago I walked into Charles Street Video (CSV) with a kernel of an idea about preserving home movies. I recall Greg Woodbury, CSV’s Operations Manager, swiveled on his chair as we mulled things over. Pam Baer, the programming coordinator, added her thoughts from a nearby couch where she ate her lunch, and Sanjit Dhillon, an intern, who sorted through equipment in the next room, piped in brilliantly to contribute to our brainstorm. I felt at home in this environment where ideas and questions flowed in all directions.
I was the Executive Director at the Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) Toronto’s longest running, free, community-based film festival. I was interested in BIPOC stories and the joy found in home movies: how could we preserve home movies and how could they inspire other joyful stories?
Charles Street Video came on board as our technical partner, one of the three legs of the project. Konrad Skreta, CSV’s in-house editor, digitized the film and video RPFF gathered from across Canada and sent it to York University Libraries, our second major partner, where it was archived by Katrina Cohen-Palacios.
With these key partners, an active advisory and a solid project team managed by Elizabeth Mudenyo at RPFF, we created Home Made Visible, an ambitious national project that received funding from the competitive New Chapter grant program at the Canada Council fo rthe Arts.
We were cautioned by many that our search for home movies might not result in much. Home movies required resources and time especially before the advent of cell phone cameras. Did BIPOC families dabble in home video-making? Regardless, we all agreed the search was worth the effort. In CSV and York University Libraries, RPFF had found partners with whom we could succeed, but perhaps even more importantly, we had found partners with whom we could navigate failure.
CSV was instrumental in connecting RPFF with artists and organizations across Canada, as well as thinking through the care that needed to be established when dealing with so much sensitive personal and historical materials. As an artist-run centre, CSV also supported the eight artists we commissioned to produce original works from archival materials.
Home Made Visible culminated with a symposium--Greg’s idea from that initial conversation on the swiveling chair--at CSV’s new space on Lisgar: TMAC (Toronto Media Arts Centre). The symposium brought together BIPOC artists and archivists and people interested in preserving, sharing and celebrating personal stories. The commissioned works were shown in the gallery. And there was cake, one of my favorite motifs from home movies.
In the end, we digitized over 300 home movies and had to turn down many requests as the project drew to a close. In 2019, Home Made Visible was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor’s Ontario Heritage Awards for Conservation.
BIPOC families have dabbled in home movies. How they managed and how their processes relate to geography, economy, patterns of colonization and settlement, migration, class, race, gender, ability, sexuality and other life markers that shape us, remains to be studied. And still, much more remains to be digitized.
Charles Street Video played a critical and defining role in the success of Home Made Visible by never separating technical expertise from thinking about impact on people and community, starting from considerations of equity within their own spaces. Looking back, that initial conversation--which flowed in all directions of the chaotic CSV office--felt joyful. A perfect fit for a project motivated by joy, and perhaps a marker of any solid partnership in the making.
Top photo: Ananya Ohri (Executive Director of Regent Park Film Festival), Greg Woodbury (Operations Manager, Charles Street Video and Elizabeth Mudenyo (Special Projects Manager, Regent Park Film Festival) receiving Lieutenant Governor’s Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation for Home Made Visible project
Bottom Photo: Picture of Frances Bastianpillai in poster by Maya Bastian, as part of her documentary, Arrival Archives commissioned for the Home Made Visible project, 2018
Article02 September 2022
The Spirit of Chuck Anima: ‘a current of air, wind, breath, the vital principle, life, soul’
Chuck is an Anima, but only one tiny pale pinprick of light in a firmament of Animas, working to change the world. Chuck doesn’t have a body, per se, but they seem to be connected with whatever technology is around at any given time, not just the electronics, but physical stuff like lights, grip stands, mafer clamps… Chuck is a hard worker, constantly dealing with bugs. Bugs are everywhere—when a bolt goes missing, a light switch craps out, or when the rotating ball of death appears on the computer, bugs, bugs, bugs—but Chuck quietly goes about their business, busily stomping them out, barely keeping up. Yes, sometimes things f-up…Chuck’s heart breaks when this happens because they know how much even a little tech glitch can torpedo the creative process. They didn’t make this technology. It was built in the paternal world order. Chuck just makes sure artists can use these nefarious tools for their various transgressive ends.
In the early analog days, Chuck had so much fun debugging the analog cameras and tape-totape editing suites. There were five edit suites full of raging artists, 24/7, and enough cable in them to cross Toronto several times. The place was hopping! During this time, Chuck was driven by the energy of having artists in-house going ‘all in’ to make art. Then the analog signal flow started ebbing as the world transitioned to digital video and nonlinear editing systems. Things were still busy for a time, but as editing software prices decreased, more artists bought these systems and worked from home. Chuck lost their way for a bit.
Then Chuck began to build a collection of pro production gear. Always tech-forward, they chose the latest bleeding edge technology. Soon Chuck was mostly out on set doing the debugging thing and generally getting their energy from the creative maelstrom of media art production. They were now moving among larger groups instead of one-on-one in an edit suite. Chuck was back!
More recently, Chuck fought to keep a collective of media organizations together in a giant facility on Queen Street West. It was an amazing place where Chuck and other local animas shepherded hundreds of exhibitions, conferences, film shoots, meetups, and parties. It was the baddest place the Toronto artist community had seen in decades. Sadly, a visionless city government and bankrupt developer brought it all down, but not all was lost. Lessons were learned and experience gain. From the ashes Chuck rose and is now set up in a cool space at their new location on Geary Avenue equipped with a gallery and a bunch of gnarly new gear where they also help artists cut their teeth on art installation craft.
You’re probably wondering, was Chuck with you at three in the morning as you sat in front of your editing program or behind a camera on set? Yes. Did Chuck see you crying because you think your work sucks and you should’ve listened to your parents and become a doctor? Yes, he did. Chuck knows you can get past all that despair and make your beautiful work. Chuck has your back and truly believes you're a superstar! They have seen it all—someone struggling with cancer but still bravely making art; another creating a video about her escape through a tunnel from Sarajevo during the Bosnian war; another transitioning from she to them; and another creating work about their life in the sex trade. Boundless stories that celebrate courage and difference.
Chuck wants you to have a safe place to do your work and knows they need to work hard to make this happen. They know you have high expectations for yourself and big dreams. Chuck wants you to bring your identity to the light of day, reject the hegemony of normal, fight the toxic paternalism and imperialist powers, embrace the gender rainbow, make beautiful things, and transgress. This is hard and increasingly risky work, and it’s not easy to find a place where you can do this but know that Chuck is always there for you. They need your beautiful self with all your fantastic skills and passions. You can start small. Come down, say hello, and strike up a conversation. You’d be amazed what can happen, but Chuck can’t do it without you.
Chuck sighting in Charles Street Video Cage. Image by Yazid Mohamednur
Article29 November 2018
We will miss you Nancy Paterson CSV is greatly saddened to announce that Nancy Paterson, our Facilities Co-ordinator since 1987, died yesterday, November 28th. Nancy had been ill with cancer for several years. Her care was undertaken by the oncology team at Sunnybrook Hospital. Nancy was 61.
Nancy saw CSV through many iterations. She was a staunch and committed supporter of media artists, artist-run culture and the capacity of centres like ours to make a difference in artists’ ability to create work. Nancy was also associated with ARC, an artist-run gallery that in the 1980's was located on Queen Street West, and with InterAccess, which remains one of Toronto’s premiere non-profits dedicated to new media work. She taught for many years at OCAD, and achieved her PhD in Communications and Culture from York University. Nancy’s art practise was inflected with a concern for video in installation contexts, new technologies, and the internet. Among her best known works was Stock Market Skirt, a piece that tracked ups and downs in the stock market index by triggering a rise or fall in the length of a skirt hemline.
Nancy was a familiar face to many CSV members whose initial introduction to the facility was an interview with her. She was friendly and welcoming, often calling people “Handsome” or “Girl” in a way that couldn’t be taken as anything other than affectionate and playful. We will miss her.
Article07 November 2014
Subclip #9 From our archives, here is subclip #9 Fall 2001.
Article20 May 2013
CSV Artifact #1 Charles Street Video has been around a long time friends and neighbors. The office is littered with objects and artifacts that tell the Charles Street Video Story. In a new series we like to call CSV Artifacts we’ll be bring you one artifact per week, every Monday morning.
This is a cardboard controller for 1/2 inch reel to reel video decks, circa 1983.
Article03 May 2013
Time Lapsed Time Lapsed
Exhibition runs March 1 2013 – March 30 2013
Opening: March 1 2013: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Essay by: Haleh Niazmand
Supported by: Charles Street Video (special sponsor)
Performance by Gita Hashemi with Sarah Abu-Sharar, Jennifer Cypher, Niloofar Golkar, Ali Mustafa, Nara Nadesan, Parvin Samadzadeh
Friday March 1, 7:30 PM ET (Doors open at 6:30 PM)
Performance is 70 minutes and is in English.
Seating is limited. Doors close at 7:30 sharp.
Please help us keep the gallery scent-free for this performance.
Simultaneous web streaming at http://headquarters.opinionware.net
March 2, 4:00 AM Tehran
March 2, 12:30 AM London (GMT)
March 1, 7:30 PM Washington
HEALING COLONIALISM: EMBODIMENTS, INTERVENTIONS, DISRUPTIONS
Discussion circle with Gita Hashemi, Naomi Binder Wall, Monique Mojica and Haleh Niazmand
Saturday March 16, 2 – 4 PM
Gita Hashemi’s artworks in Time Lapsed detail principal historic events in Iran, distilled through a unique web of analysis and channeled into insights that are ultimately as personal as they are historic and political. Consisting of three significant interactive and participatory artworks-performance and video installation Ephemeral Monument (2008), hypermedia narrative CD-R Of Shifting Shadows (2000), and a new site-specific installation and performanceHeadquarters: Pathology of an Ouster and Ouster Remixed-this exhibition puts contemporary Iran in context through the perspective of colonial violence and trauma. Connecting this history with other lives that were injured by colonialism around the world, Hashemi’s work creates a venue for collective remembrance, understanding and solidarity, and charts a new territory in (hi)story-telling that is inclusive, mindful and empowering. Hashemi highlights the shared humanity that connects us together regardless of individual locality, national identity or geopolitical struggles.
Born in Shiraz, Iran, Gita Hashemi is an award-winning transmedia artist, curator and writer whose practice is concerned with historical and contemporary issues. She routinely engages in direct relations with audiences by creating immersive environments and employing collaborative, performative and participatory approaches. Most recently, she exhibited in a solo show at the Red House Centre in Sofia in 2011, at 2012 Electrochoc Festival in Lyon, and at Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco in 2013. She has taught time-based art, (new) media and cultural studies at York and Ryerson Universities and University of Toronto. Since she entered the School of Fine Arts in Tehran University shortly after the 1979 Revolution, her motto has been: the personal is poetic, the poetic is political, the political is personal.
Gita Hashemi wishes to acknowledge the support of Ontario Arts Council. She is specially grateful to Ouster Remixed participants for their creative contribution; to Haleh Niazmand, Mansour Bonakdarian, Masih Hashemi, Monique Mojica and Morteza Hashemi for advice and research support; to Ali Ammari for web design; and to Niloofar Golkar, Nasrin Zerehi and Shahrvand Newspaper for outreach and publicity.
Artist and curator, Haleh Niazmand‘s work has been exhibited widely in venues such as San Diego Museum of Art, Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM, Des Moines Art Center, IA, and reviewed/published in Art Papers, US Art, Fuse Magazine, Radical History Review, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. During a 1998-2000 residency at Des Moines Art Center, Niazmand designed and implemented workshops with marginalized communities, including state mental hospital and children’s homes residents. In 2003 she founded Gallery Subversive, and directed Modesto Junior College’s art gallery from 2005-2011.
Time Lapsed technology and camera maven, David Findlay is a thing-maker, writer, cameraperson and technical consultant who currently splits his time between Southern Ontario and Southern California.
OUSTER REMIXED PERFORMERS
Sarah Abu-Sharar is a storyteller, social worker and an activist living in Toronto, Canada and working on her Masters in Expressive Art Therapy in Saas Fee, Switzerland. Sarah is passionate about the arts, traveling and human rights.
Jennifer Cypher is an American-in-Canada, newbie hockey player, academic and activist. She has a PhD in Environmental Studies from York University, where she also teaches.
Niloofar Golkar is an Iranian activist who moved to Canada in 2008. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Social and Political Thought at York University.
Ali Mustafa is a freelance writer, photographer, and multimedia journalist. His articles have appeared in Znet, the Dominion, Upside Down World, Electronic Intifada, the Bullet, and various other sites and publications. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada.
Narayani Nadesan is an ideas junkie, an explorer of creative wisdom and a believer in the arts and technology. She is Toronto-based, by way of Jaffna-Chennai-Muscat.
Parvin Samadzadeh was born in Tehran, Iran. Since 1992, she has been working as a counselor with women survivors of domestic abuse in Toronto.
Naomi Binder Wall is a long-time social activist and a widely published writer. She is a member of Women in Solidarity With Palestine.
Monique Mojica (Guna and Rappahannock) - is a Toronto-based actor/playwright passionately dedicated to theatrical practice as acts of healing, cultural reclamation and resistance.
Ouster Remixed (performance stream)
Watch Ouster Remixed in its entirety as performed on March 1, 2013 at the opening of the exhibition Time Lapsed at A Space Gallery in Toronto, courtesy of http://headquarters.opinionware.net/video-stream/.
Article25 September 2003
A Short Story That Is Not Over Yet by Gila Svirsky Yesterday two massive bulldozers arrived at the Palestinian village of Dir Istya to knock down 1500 olive trees that provide a livelihood for many of these villagers.
Article25 September 2003
The End of The End Chantal Rousseau in Conversation with Judy Radul by Chantal Rousseau During the installaiton of And So Departed (Again) at this year's Images Festival, Chantal Rousseau talks to Judy Radul about her process and the relationship between theatre and cinema.
Article25 September 2003
Haaretz by Harel Amos Dozens of settlers yesterday attacked West Bank villagers and prevented them from picking their olives by firing guns in the air and toward the Palestinians and dozens of peace activists who had thronged to support them.
Article25 September 2003
A Watched Pot Never Boils In conversation with artist Peter Kingstone by Sara Matthews Video artist Peter Kingstone and I got together at his studio at York University to talk about, among other things, boredom, lies and how to think about art. One of Kingstone's latest works, "400 Lies and One Truth About Me" (2003), offers the viewer a silent text dialogue that scrolls down a darkened screen - fictional (all but one) tidbits from a life both juicy and banal, numbered 1 to 400. I LOVE EATING LIVER I am reminded of watching movie credits because they roll by too quickly to read each one, so I watch the loop over and over again, amusing myself by trying to guess which pronouncement is the truth. I really want to know which of the 400 statements is true and I even guess about it the next time that I talk with Peter on the phone. Feeling slightly ashamed of falling for my own curiosity, I am reassured by the knowledge that I am not alone in having succumbed to the desire to know. Traces of this desire can be found in everything from eloquently deconstructive texts on the latest art-stars to nights spent in front of the TV watching the latest reality show nightmare. "Welcome", echoes philosopher Slavoj Zizek, "to the desert of the real". If this is where desire leads than I definitely need to bring along a sense of humour.
Luckily, Kingstone doesn't leave me to face my shameful desires alone. Ever since he was a kid, Kingstone's stories and narratives have always been funny; if not to others, at least to him. "I think humour is a big part of me or part of what I am doing. CHICKLETS ARE MY FAVOURITE KIND OF GUM
Not that what I am saying is flippant - it is important - but humour sort of eases the edges and gets people to understand what I am saying". The humour inherent in Kingstone's work ranges from the downright silly to the artful. Many times I found myself laughing out loud. Kingstone's wit arises in part from the poignancy of his characters' negotiation of the painful yet banal dynamics of life: painful because his stories focus moments we might rather discard - breaking up, feeling ambivalent, thwarted desires, being dissatisfied with one's job, disliking one's body; yet banal because we easily recognize ourselves in these scenarios.
One of Kingstone's early collaborations with artist Mike e.b., "I Hate You" (2001), 'documents' a morning-after scenario between two lovers. A man crouches naked at the end of the bed and stares directly into a video camera set up to record what we imagine to be the libidinous antics of the preceding night. What we actually see, however, is infinitely more intimate - the passionate ambivalence of love unleashed in a litany of complaints. I AM A PERFECTIONIST His lover remains blissfully unaware, sleeping sprawled amidst the twisted sheets. Invited by the narrator to share his innermost thoughts, our position as voyeur allows this glimpse inside the dynamics of love and hate: "I hate you...I hate the way you look. I hate it that you are...so...big. I hate what you do. I hate what you eat. I hate it that you get quesadillas wherever we go...I hate the way you sing..." The diatribe continues even as his lover emerges from slumber to head for the toilet: "I hate listening to your pee from the bed...I hate the way your pee sounds hitting the water in the toilet." Half awake, the lover returns to bed, only to be met by the narrator's petulant embrace. I laugh in response to the agony of recognition.
Kingstone casts himself in the role of the sleeping lover in "I Hate You". The main reason that he appears in his own work is because he's always available and because he can make himself do things that he wouldn't ask of anyone else. Though his pieces are not autobiographical, others are not so easily convinced:
"Some people watch my work and they think - 'Oh, it is all about you.' But in a way my work is not about me because a lot of them are things about everybody - or things that everybody thinks about. "I Hate You" is a demonstration of everybody's love relationship. After seeing the video everyone would say to me, 'Oh, are you and your boyfriend still together'? Well, he's not my boyfriend. I'm still together with my boyfriend, yes, but not him! It is really weird but it happens all the time that when I produce something with someone else, they presume that this relationship is real."
It is the desire to distinguish truth from fiction that Kingstone plays off in his most recent works. What happens when he lies about either his own life or that of someone else? MY NIPPLES ARE VERY SENSITIVE In the unfinished "The First Sacrament of the Church of St. Thomas" (2003), a faux-documentary about a church baptism, the lie is very apparent. Kingstone is curious about how people respond to such bald-faced lying. The typical viewer response, "what the hell is he talking about?" is a question that continues to resonate. Posing the question a similar way, 'what the hell is the purpose of art?', we find its trace throughout Kingstone's work: as an art maker, he is also concerned about the making of art. "I am in constant discussion with myself if this is something that I need to be doing. As someone in this society, here, now, and in Toronto. Shouldn't I be a corporate banker? Is that what the world needs? They don't need another video artist." As a cultural thinker who works in video art, Kingstone's concerns about the making of art are reflected in his art practice: "I want to explore (it) for myself but I want my videos to be interesting to someone else. I HAVE A LAZY EYE They can watch the Church of St. Thomas without knowing that I was exploring lies. They can just watch it and enjoy it for whatever reason. All the stories that I have to tell behind them is this discussion of narrative and boredom and lies which is going in inside my own head, but you don't need to understand that in order to enjoy them".
Kingstone readily confesses his urge to tell stories. His background in writing fiction may have something to do with it - last year, he took part in several three-day novel writing contests, finishing two novels. I GREW UP IN HAMILTON Kingstone goes as far to suggest that he wouldn't even know how to create a non-narrative. The trace of a story remains even in his more recent works that toy with broken and disjunctured narrative sequences. In the unfinished "Driving" (2003), narrative structure takes a back seat to the absurdity of being trapped in a car on a freeway with someone who is trying to break up with you. Art imitates life where narrative displacement synchronizes the ambivalence of endings - should I or shouldn't I? In a moment of self-disclosure, Kingstone admits that while "I am a fan of relationships, I also feel trapped in them, which is not always a bad thing. In the car, I can't leave and this person can tell me anything he wants. I am stuck in the car".
Stuck is how I might describe my feelings while watching another of Kingstone's experiments with broken narrative, "This is Entertainment" (2003 in progress). The video opens to an image of a stainless steel kettle (I have one just like it at home!) on a hot stove element. The audio track is a little hard to decipher at first, but it sounds like someone just off camera is doing a little channel surfing. I keep watching and waiting for the kettle to boil, watching and waiting....watching....waiting. Finally I resort to the fast-forward button - I want the damn kettle to boil already! It reminds me of life - being stuck in a repetitious rut while the rest of the world seemingly moves forward. WHEN I WAS A CHILD I ATE DIRT For the viewer with patience, frustration is a just reward. It might seem an unworthy prize, but this work brings the vital question of how we approach boredom in our own lives: how long can we stay with frustration? How long before we just walk away? Though boredom often gets thrown up as a problem for the social, Kingstone sees it as a productive state:
"For me, I think boredom is a first step...you realize that you are bored and you turn that malaise into production. For me that is the only way that I seem to be able to produce, to keep my mind busy. I actually make things that talk about different subjects, but why I make those things is because I am not enjoying what is happening."
'Leisure time' is not something that Kingstone covets. Instead of channel surfing while waiting for the kettle to boil, he is off working on another project. This productivity often invites complaints from friends and colleagues who urge him to slow down and stop doing so many things at once. But Kingstone has a way of creating an artful mania even from this. As part of the One-A-Day Collective, in which four artists completed one work of art every day for an entire year, Kingstone has produced, among other things, over 100 videos, 200 photographs and a t-shirt. NEW BRUNSWICK IS MY FAVOURITE PROVINCE He admits that while making an everyday relationship to a finished piece of art can be a difficult thing, he enjoyed the process. Since, at the time, he was also working a full-time job, shorter projects were easier to accomplish. Currently completing an MFA at York University, Kingstone remarks that the experience is wonderful because "I can sit back and think about what I have been producing."
While Kinsgtone thinks it is important for artists to know what they are up to and he is very interested in theory, he wants art to do more than just perform theory. Kingstone's work is complex enough to avoid this trap. His richly modulated layering of thought with process is evident in the hysterically funny, "Practical Hypnosis" (2002). The video opens to a cropped view of our protagonist (Kingstone again) in the throes of a hypnotic session. For those who recognize the artist and his voice, we are drawn into the complex of his own self-hypnosis. MY BOYFRIEND ONCE FUCKED BRAD PITT Eyes closed, the protagonist rides the waves of the hypnotist's voice and slowly slips down into an unconscious state, inviting the viewer along for the trip. Just when I am at my most vulnerable, a surprise awaits - Marchel Duchamp's spinning zygotropes in place of the protagonists' now open eyes. But things are not over yet. In a further twist we hear the hypnotist suggest that "I'm telling you what you want to hear...what you want most in the world is to become a corporate banker. You have to forget about making art. Art will never make you happy. Corporate banking is exciting...Art is a waste of time. It does not help anyone. It's just a strain on the economy".
"Practical hypnosis" kind of sums it all up for me. The narrative is so obviously scripted that I know it is an absolute lie right from the start, but this doesn't prevent me from being sucked right in. In the end I am faced yet again with my own ambivalent desire to know. There is one question, however, for which I finally have an answer: Which is more important, being an artist or a corporate banker? I guess it all depends on who can tell the best lies.
NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN ME CRY
Article23 September 2003
Field + Streaming Youth Project by Leah Breuer CSV recently collaborated with Trinity Square Video, Interaccess and The Power Plant on a youth oriented web streaming workshop series.
Article23 September 2003
2003 InsideOut Queer Youth Breaking Out by Leah Breuer InsideOut Digitial Queer Youth Project facilitator Mary Angela Piccione and Leah Breuer, Charles Street Video's intern student from Ryerson chat about another years' successful project and its participants.
Article23 September 2003
Deep Wireless Audio Residency Going Deeper Deep Wireless Radio Art Festival May 1-31, 2003 by Nadene Theriault-Copeland The theme for next year's Deep Wireless festival is "Radio Without Boundaries." May 2004 will mark the third anniversary of this celebration of radio art and the second anniversary of the Deep Wireless Commissioning Program co-produced with CBC Radio's "Out Front" and Charles Street Video.
Call for works: What is your culture?
Does radio reflect your culture or way of life?
Let us hear your ideas and how they represent your world. Create a piece for radio that reflects your culture and examines social issues that are relevant to you. Go to:
www.deepwireless.ca to download the submission guidelines.
All completed works submitted by September 30, 2003 from the Call for Works will be considered for radio play on Community Radio stations across Canada and on international radio stations throughout the month of May, 2004. From the submissions, four Canadian artists will be selected to produce a new work for both CBC radio broadcast and octaphonic concert spatialization that combines sound exploration and
personal narrative in innovative ways.
New Adventures in Sound Art is a non-profit organization that produces performances and installations spanning the entire spectrum of electroacoustic and experimental sound art.Ê Included in its Toronto productions are: Deep Wireless, Sound Travels, Sign Waves and SOUNDplay.
Deep Wireless was a month long celebration of Radio Art produced by New Adventures in Sound Art with performances at the Ambient Ping, the Rivoli, special radio broadcasts on CBC Radio 1 99.1-FM and CIUT 89.5-FM, Radio Art Interventions broadcast throughout May 2003 on CKLN 88.1FM, residencies at Charles Street Video and a conference "Transmissions sans Frontieres" sponsored by the Canadian Society for Independent Radio Production.
As part of this second annual Deep Wireless festival, New Adventures in Sound Art initiated a special commissioning/residency opportunity co-produced with CBC Radio's "Out Front" and Charles Street Video. Four Canadian artists (playwright Mark Brownell, radio documentarian Dan Hart, sound artist Kathy Kennedy, and violinist/audio artist Reena Katz) were selected from a Canadian-wide call for submissions
to produce a work for both CBC radio broadcast and octaphonic concert spatialization that combined sound exploration and personal narrative in innovative ways.
Deep Wireless opened in May with radio art interventions broadcast on CKLN 88.1-FM.Ê These short pieces and excerpts were representative of some of the finest radio art in North America. Two free shows "RADiO iN AMBiENCE 1 & 2" on May 6th & 13th were presented at The Ambient Ping (club nia / C'est What - 19 Church Street at Front Street). These special presentations by THE AMBiENT PiNG for Deep Wireless
featured experimental artists Andrew Aldridge, Rick Hyslop, David Pritchard, Byron Wong, Scott M2, Jakob Thiesen and Rebecca McLellan making extensive use of radio as a live ambient sound source. http://www.theambientping.com
The Deep Wireless commissioned works were broadcasted on CBC Radio 1
99.1-FM between May 19-22, 2003 11:45 - noon, as part of the regular "Out Front" programming. Spatialized versions of the pieces were also included in two shows "Radio-a-Mock 1 & 2," May 23 & 24 @ the Rivoli. Each show was a double bill of experimental sound and radio art creating the world of radio on stage and featuring Radio hosts Kristiana Clemens and Chandra Bulucon, Director Lynda Hill, composer
Matt Rogalsky, DJ-Artist Jeremy Mimnagh, sound artist Susanna Hood, media artist Zev Asher and soundscape recordist and radio producer Jim Metzner. Radio-a-Mock was a mock radio show in a world gone amok.
The Deep Wireless two-day conference, "Transmissions sans Frontieres", was sponsored by the Canadian Society for Independent Radio Production and took place on May 24-25, 2003 at Victoria College explored the boundaries of radio. "Transmissions sans Frontieres" was about transcending boundaries -- boundaries between art forms, boundaries between countries, boundaries between public and community broadcasting. It encouraged participants to think of the airspace we all share, and how we can make the airwaves resonate with new voices and new ways of presenting ideas.
Presenters included: Steve Wadhams, Christos Hatzis, Garvia Bailey, Chantal Dumas, Victoria Fenner, Anna Friz, Julie Shapiro, Chandra Bulucon, Dan Hart, Reena Katz, Mark Brownell, Kathy Kennedy, Jim Metzner Barb Woolner, and Chris Brookes. Bios can be seen on the Deep Wireless website: www.deepwireless.ca/tsf/ Transom sent Benjamin Walker up from the states to cover the conference. You can get a really good idea of what this conference was about by checking out his comments and audio on www.transom.org.
Deep Wireless Residency Artists at Charles Street Video
Mark Brownell is a Toronto-based playwright. In 2001 he was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award for his play, Monsieur d'Eon. He also received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for his libretto Iron Road. He last collaborated with Sound Travels on Bells and Whistles (an "annoying but strangely addictive" travelling installation piece). Other written work includes The Martha Stewart Projects (Buddies in Bad Times) and The Chevalier St. George (Tafelmusik Baroque Ensemble). Mark is also co-artistic director of the Pea Green Theatre Group with his wife and partner Sue Miner. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School and has had many of his plays produced across the country and internationally.
Dan Hart cut his radio teeth in the Maritimes as Spoken Word Director and Program Director, a position also held at the University of Toronto (1993 to 1995 with CIUT-FM). Dan also worked as a Station Manager in Kitchener and corporate trainer, writer, and project controller here in Toronto.
Last year, Dan took a course taught by Laurence Stevenson, Outfront Recording Engineer and Producer, resulting in, My Father, a reminiscence on alcoholism and divorce. Dan's subsequent radio pieces include Suspicious Fire (Producer, Lynda Shorten), seeing faith through the prism of unemployment, and Et in Arcadia Ego (Producer, Alison Moss), accepting the brutality of homelessness. In "Buridan's
Ass" (Producer, Lynda Shorten), his newest commission for Deep Wireless, Dan brawls with bisexuality as he and Deborah prepare their commitment ceremony.
Reena Katz is a Toronto based violinist, audio artist and teacher. Her solo work uses electric violin, effects pedal, samplers, sequencers and turntable to weave unique Klezmer based electro-acoustic soundscapes..Ê She collaborates with musicians and video artists, playing with rock divas Queen Size S.H.A.G, as well as
Klezmer starlettes Pomegranate Squad and composing scores for local film and video artists, including Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay and Aleesa Cohene. She has toured and played live in Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Berlin as well as throughout Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Her emerging audio art has been exhibited on community radio, the TransTech festival in Toronto, as well as at the SOX36 Gallery in
Berlin. Her collaborative work includes musical landscapes for performance artist Mirha-Soleil Ross's Yapping Out Loud and poet Trish Salah. Reena is currently working with choreorgrapher/dancer Karen Guttman as well as on a residency for CBCâs Deep Wireless at Charles Street Video, in Toronto.
Kathy Kennedy is a sound artist with a background classical singing. Her art practise generally involves the voice and issues of interface with technology, often using telephony or radio. She is also involved in community art, and is a founder of the digital media center for women in Canada, Studio XX, as well as the innovative choral groups for women, Choeur Maha and Esther. Her large scale sonic installation/performances for up to 100 singers and radio, called "sonic choreographies," have been performed internationally including the inauguration of the Vancouver New Public Library and at the Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Series.
Article23 September 2003
And So Departed (Again) The End Residency Begins. West coast artist and writer Judy Radul was commissioned for 'The End' residency, programmed by CSV, YYZ Artists' Outlet and Images.
Article23 September 2003
Homeshow Hell and Back ... you little bastard ... Homeshow artist in residence Daniel Cockburn developed a love hate relationship with our gear, and survived to tell the tale.