The Glocal Project Clever Tag Line Goes Here Tue, 31 Mar 2009 17:38:09 +0000 en hourly 1 photochallenge #21 - March 21 Sat, 21 Mar 2009 00:18:27 +0000 simon

March 21 - The International Day for the Elimination of Racism

glocal-mar21-picAbout March 21

In 1966, the United Nations declared March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to commemorate the massacre of peaceful anti racism demonstrators in Sharpeville, South Africa.


To create a digital snapshot of racism  and/or resistance in the 21st century.

You are invited to participate in a year long, multi-voiced, digital dialogue exploring racism and resistance in the 21st century.

What is Racism?
What is Resistance?

To change the world you will need:

  • a digital image (or more)
  • internet access
  • a few minutes


Here’s How to Contribute your image of Racism or Resistance to the March 21st: Flickr Pool

1. Capture a digital  image that,  from your point of view, completes the phrase  “This is racism…” or “This is resistance…”

2. Upload the image to the March21 flickr pool, before march 21 2010.

3. Tag your images with ‘march21′, plus ‘racism’ and/or ‘resistance’  and then any other tags to describe the image.  (who, what, when, where and how)

4. Spread the word about  “March21 - racsim + resistance” and encourage others to upload their own images

5. Witness your image combine with thousands of others from around the globe in a “constantly shifting and expanding visual dialogue” on racism in the 21st century.

Mexico Olympics '68, USA  Sprinters Tommy Smith and ? were stripped of their medals for these gestures of resistance

Mexico Olympics '68, USA Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos were stripped of their medals for these gestures of resistance

Over the years photojournalists have captured moments in history that have changed the world. In this way photography has been successful as a tool for reflection, advocacy and social justice.  In art,  photographic moments  have been created to represent everyday tensions. In Mimic (1982), Jeff Wall creates a  “photojournalistic ambience…an unscripted street scene in which a man displays his racism. The street is nondescript; it could be any street in any North American city. The racism is as casual and nonchalant as it is evil, using an obscene gesture to ’slant’ his eye; it’s the unthinking banality of the racism that makes it both common and pervasive and all the more quietly pernicious. The people involved are ordinary people from slightly different social classes, yet there is a definite class component to the underlying resentment and racism. It looks like a moment captured in time.” (Greg Fallis)

Jeff Wall, Mimic, 1982

Jeff Wall, Mimic, 1982


On March 21, 1960 thousands of men, women and children joined together at a picnic in the town of Sharpeville, South Africa to peacefully oppose the government of South Africa’s racism. The police responded brutality—69 black folks were shot dead and many others injured.

In 1966, the United Nations declared March 21st to henceforth be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The government of Canada followed with a national declaration in1989 become one of the first nations to do so, nearly thirty years after the massacre.

Over a hundred years has past since Dr. Du Bois published the songs and stories of everyday folks struggling with racism and nearly fifty years since the Sharpville Massacre. The 1990s Nelson Mandela became the first Black South African to be elected president, after his release from decades in prison for resisting racism. In 2008, the United States of America elected the first African American Barak Obama, as President.  Much has changed in the world. Yet racism persists.

What does it look like from your perspective? Starting this March spend a few minutes to contribute your point of view on racism and help us create a global snapshot of racism and resistance in the 21st Century.

“Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line. I pray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words with me, forgiving mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion that is in me, and seeking the grain of truth hidden there.”

William Edward Burhardt Du Bois from the Souls of Black Folks first published in 1903

Sharpeville Massacre, 1960

]]> Balloon Cam educators resource Thu, 12 Mar 2009 22:15:40 +0000 dennis This conceptual toolkit introduces the balloon cam. It explains how to create a balloon cam with a digital camera (that shoots video), helium ballons, and a few simple tools. It explores how new perspectives can be created by using the camera in new ways, and by re-thinking space from a top down view.

When you move through public space, how do you choose what direction to take? One of the amazing features of aerial perspective is how it shows, very clearly, the way spaces are constructed. The layout of space allows and controls the way we move and interact. For example, in urban space, we often find ourselves wandering through commercial areas with which we have no business; in parks, paths guide us, determining our viewpoints, often spreading us out to prevent crowding and wasted space. Using aerial video, we can observe these phenomena in motion!

Aerial perspective, in showing the bigger picture, shows all objects in context; it reveals information that often escapes ground level observation. We can see what lies on rooftops or within enclosed areas. Concrete surfaces become huge slabs of grey, demonstrating their actual size in relation to green space. Cars become swift rectangular boxes traveling through a maze. On a sunny day, outdoor walkers become dancing shadows. If you could fly above your community, what would you want to see?

Artist Interview: Josh Hite Tue, 03 Mar 2009 00:30:13 +0000 jessica hite_small_dancers1

Can you describe how you approached the Glocal project in terms of your arts practice and combining that with Glocal software toolkits?  What did you learn as a result of using Glocal toolkits?

My practice has increasingly been concerned with transitions, how we arrive at them, how they shape our understanding of a work.  Glocal Project software allows for quick image generation and analysis. We are able to identify and examine sequences, pairings, and timing that are congruent with what we hope to create.  I’ve learned mainly through having to consider the myriad configurations so immediately available while using this software.  Im currently working on a project called Copy with my partner, contemporary dance artist Justine Chambers, and some other dancers in the community.  We are using the motion sequence application to generate movement by shooting and then viewing video of alternate clips of lower and upper halves of dancers’ bodies.  When combined, unexpected sequences and transitions are created, and are then reincorporated into pre-existing choreography, as the work constantly adjusts.  Ultimately, we hope to create a participatory environment, a space using multiple projections and screens in which dancers and viewers/participants co-create the piece, using this software as both a movement generator as well as a platform for display.

The dancers in the image are Meghan and Vanessa Goodman, Katy Harris-McLeod, and Jane Osborne.

]]> Photo Challenge #10: 9AM Sky Wed, 25 Feb 2009 19:48:19 +0000 dennis Ends: Monday, March 16, 2009

Instructions: this one is dead simple. Take a photo of the sky at 9am and add it to our Glocal Flickr Pool.

This photo challenge relies on the power of simplicity. We are asking you to take a very simple photo of the sky, at 9 in the morning. Each photo, in and of itself, may not be that exciting, but by creating a collection, the whole becomes more interesting than the sum of the parts. Viewed next to each other, the images reveal the differences, variety and subtlety of the sky. Tag your image with  ‘9amsky’, but also tag it with your location and the weather, like this:  “9amsky:location=vancouver” and  “9amsky:weather=rainy” .

This was inspired by a project by Michael Surtees entitled “ 36 days of new York sky”. You can view a post about the project here.  The artist took a photo of the sky from his home in New York at the same time every morning for 36 days. Our challenge will be different in that every person is shooting from a different location, so it will be more of a composite of the sky from around the world.

Artist Interview: Vesna Milicevic Wed, 25 Feb 2009 19:22:02 +0000 jessica Glocal artist Sylvia Grace Borda recently interviewed Serbian artist Vesna Milicevic about her work ‘False Memory Syndrome’. 


What have you photographed in this series?
A faceless, uniformed architecture of social-realism, which mushroomed in the former Yugoslavia and Serbia after the Second World War. In my photographs – I have pictured a line up of cold, concrete facades. These facades are faceless and parallel the structure or an attempt by the government to establish a New Order.

Since identical copies of huge urban sprawls were built across the country, I took one set of these buildings as a topic from which to create a larger series of photographs. Each photo may seem alike, but each image has been taken so that the building appears at different elevations and with a different distortion. It is for the viewer to look carefully and see the emergent differences between the works.

How do you describe the work ‘False Memory Syndrome’ to viewers? How have you implicated the idea of alternative view work?
Since the work is photographed from different elevation and angles, it can be seen much like a collective memory of a place and situation – no one image is more accurate than the other. And just as things can be elevated, there is also an ever- cautionary message about how histories are to prone to manipulation or framing – not dissimilar to my own images.

For me the building façades photographed are both a fact and a construct.

The pictures taken illustrate an artificial construct of the official history - cold, monumental and rusty. Memory is a part of this process. It is a process of construction and constant re-invention of activities – ones that really happened, but also of those that never took place.

How do you explain the title of the work - False Memory Syndrome?
Throughout the twentieth century, numerous wars, revolutions and genocides have taken place. Many believe in fact that life was very different back in the good old times. Some may even refer to those days as a ‘Paradise Lost.’ Particularly this thinking in the Balkans is also referred to as a ”False Memory Syndrome” This happens when a group or an entire nation holds a strong belief and distorts memories related to its own traumatic past into something else.

We all need to remember and to know our history. In understanding this part of history – we need to move beyond tragedies and realise that an everlasting memory can also resurrect false memories of past events.

Like the photographs shot for this series, there are many ways to view and frame the same object or metaphorically think about the past. Thus we need to learn and understand these ideas like the images are not ‘abject’ In the Balkans, ideas about collective memory are a highly sensitive issue. Thus art can act as a conduit to bridge and illustrate how an alternative way of thinking and seeing does not need to become a battlefield for old passions.

Artist Interview: Greg Dawe Tue, 03 Feb 2009 00:52:54 +0000 jessica 1) Can you describe how you approached the Glocal project in terms of finding alternative viewpoints and combining that with Glocal tools? 

I used 12 “dollar store kites” in linear tandem to launch a video camera into the air above two boys in a gravel parking lot engaged in what appears to be a fight, their shadows dominating the image. This video was then played back through the Glocal “Motion Sequence Applet” to create a grid of images from this video. The Glocal “Applet”, video camera, kites, and the resulting photographs are tools. The underlying concepts supersede the importance of the tools used. A broader interpretation of the “alternate viewpoint” suits my work since this work moves beyond the idea of using a high vantage point for the camera.
2) Can you describe what is interesting about the unusual images that have resulted?

Without the video these images become part of a global visual language, a visual reference to society. As a series of stitched together photos, the 5min video sequence is reduced to a language of symbols laid out on the gravel of the parking lot. The two dimensional aspect of the photographic image is taken to the extreme through shadows and the high view point. The photographic still images captured from the video become at once both iconic and indexical signs. The photographic stills arranged in the grid are indexical in that these photographs are a direct representation of an event and also iconic in the way these images of the conflict between children mimics conflict beyond a Vancouver suburb parking lot. This project can be seen as an allegory of contemporary conflicts, the purpose this project is to stimulate the viewer, to stimulate thought.
3) How does using a kite differ from other aerial perspectives and why is that interesting?

The use of kites is irrelevant to the series of still images; any high vantage point could have been used to obtain the same effect. However the video I created relies on the dynamic nature of using wind and kites to hold a video camera aloft. One of the most striking aspects of the video is the howl of the wind in the kite string and the rhythmic clanking of the rig used to hold the camera. These elements enhance the events played out below the kites. Indeed, it is not necessary for the viewer to be aware that kites were used to film the video; it is ambiguity that is necessary so that the viewer can read what they need to into the piece. The isolation of the boys in the video is enhanced by limiting the background down to a gravel surface, with no other context. This view point obscures what is being said on the ground, the age of the boys, the ethnicity of the boys, and the location. I do not wish to be seen as a Kite Aerial Photographer, the kites and camera were tools used to help move contemporary art towards new territories.
Photo Challenge #9: Photography as Theatre Fri, 30 Jan 2009 00:18:41 +0000 jessica Photochallenge #9: Photography as Theatre

Ends: Monday, February 16, 2009

Brief: Simply set a scene and photograph it. Perform and pose alone or with friends to create a narrative captured by the camera. You can stage every detail and gesture, or be creative and leave some elements to spontaneity. You can create a single image or create a storyboard with images in sequence. See some examples below for inspiration. Go forth and experiment and then share your results with us!

Instructions: Tag your photo with “glocalproject” and “photochallenge9″ and add it to our flickr pool. Need help? Email us .

Lights! Camera! Action! That’s the sentiment behind this fun photo challenge. We’ve been busy in the techlab building a new website and creating new software tools, such as a diptych maker and an image breeder, so we wanted to create something that was fun and informative, allowing our participants to manipulate their subject at will.

Visual storytelling is as old as drawings on cave walls. The invention of the camera brought about an obviously easy way to depict scenes from folklore, literature, drama, personal and religious stories. When this is done using the camera it is called “staged photography” and its roots are as old as photography itself. In nineteenth century photography,  staged scenes reflected that photography as an art form was very closely aligned with theatre. Henry Peach Robinson’s Fading Away is a perfect example of figures arrayed as if frozen in place on a horizontal line across a shallow stage.
This photo does little to challenge our notions of perspective and framing (modernist concepts which would come some time later), but it encourages us to look at theatre as a reference point for interpreting the stylistic elements of the photograph as mentioned above. Like many plays of this era, influenced by gothic themes of death and decay, staged scenes like the one above were popular photographic goods. To represent a scene like the above through photography reflects one of the early uses of the camera — creating small, easy to reproduce, transportable pictures that reflect cultural symbols.
We are most familiar with staged photography because of its uses in advertising and marketing ploys.  By the 1950’s staged fictional scenes were widely used in advertising, situating the product or service advertised into a story. Paul Outerbridge’s The Coffee Drinkers (1939) features a group of men enjoying one another’s company over coffee. Quite the opposite of pop-art, this photography doesn’t feature the coffee’s packaging as the central subject, but instead provides us with a story that appeals to personal experience. You probably recognize the sentiment from various different advertisements that you’ve seen.
A 1951 example by Ruth Orkin, shows the possibility of not completely staging every detail and gesture of the scene. You’ll likely recognize American Girl in Italy 1951 which is a partial mise en scene that created some unexpected outcomes. As the story goes, Ruth Orkin intended to sell a photograph to a magazine for an article on women travelling alone. She asked the young girl, who was staying in her hotel, if she would like to be photographed walking down the street. The group of males standing near a corner of the Piazza della Repubblica were not intentionally supposed to  tease the young girl, so the end result was actually a much more powerful image than originally intended. For this photo challenge we hope some of you will apply these principles of spontaneity and leave a few details to chance.
Staged photography is perhaps an artform that in the past received less attention in galleries simply because of its relationship to advertising, however, it has indeed been actively used by artists throughout the 20th century.  We wanted to include an example of contemporary staged photography so that our participants could get a sense of different value systems that have critiqued this form. From the latter half of the 20th century  until now, staged photography is situated within the social context of cinematography and television. Our contemporary experiences are constantly reflected in digital images and much of what we know about our social setting is brought to us through films, videos and television. One way for artists to photograph this social context is through re-enactment. Unlike historical re-enactments, in contemporary staged photography, all pretense of association with the real world is dropped.
One very simple example of this abandonment of “reality” is  Tina Barney’s Sheila and Moya (1987), which combines the drama of soap operas with the more private terrain of family photographs. This photo masquerades as a snapshot of real life, although it is known that Barney did adopt a more directorial role, including the use of a lighting assistant to capture the seemingly spontaneous interactions of her close friends and family.
One of the interesting points about this artists work is that it evokes the voyeurism of reality tv, which is also a form that blurs the line between real and representation. So, where theatre used to inform the construction of staged pictures in early photography, artists like Barney can look to genres in film and television to find other realities for representation. Do you think it matters whether the people in this photo are actors or family members, posed or not?
We hope the examples above were helpful in inspiring your creativity. Be sure to share the results of your experimentation with us on our flickr group. Any questions? Just email us.
Camera Hack MkII - Light and Motion Trigger Tue, 23 Dec 2008 22:57:09 +0000 dennis

New Glocal Camera Hack kits have been developed. Much like the originals, these kits are Arduino based camera triggers, but the mark 2 hack kit now contains an accelerometer and a light sensor to increase the possibilities of your photographic experiments. The camera can now be activated by a sudden bright light (for example, a door opening into a dark room), an absence of light (for example breaking a laser path), or by shakes, sudden movements, or tilt in axis.

By automating the firing of the camera, we can move away from images always being made at eye level. The use of these camera triggers allow us to capture images from new perspectives, and in new ways. By actually removing some human control from the equation, we open up possibilities for new and exciting images.

The kit is designed by artist Daniel Joliffe, and this download contains parts lists, assembly guides, schematics and everything you need to know in order to build one. Blank PCB’s are available from us,for free, so just contact us if you are intersted in one. Parts can obtained from Digikey or other online electronics vendors.

Photo Challenge #8: Found Text and the Urban Life Fri, 05 Dec 2008 03:49:32 +0000 jessica Photochallenge #8: Found Text and the Urban Life

Ends: Friday, December 12, 2008

Brief: Find words or text that appeal to you anywhere in your environment. Wait for “something interesting” to happen, with pedestrians, with light, with framing, with angles! Anything creative that strikes you.

Instructions: Tag your photo with “glocalproject” and “photochallenge8″ and add it to our flickr pool. Need help? Email us .

In photo challenge #7, we asked you to find things that were “not quite right”. We were amazed by the various submissions that we received and began to think of how our project offers this amazing opportunity for street-level exposure to so many urban centres around the world. Photo challenge #8 has further exploration of this topic at it’s objective.

Street photography became possible in the early 20th century when advancements in technology made it possible to carry a hand-held camera on one’s body. There was much excitement in the ability to capture “everyday life” as the common man experienced it. Street photography allows us to consider how what we see everyday impacts what we know about the world. Considering text as a common thread in urban life adds a common thread from which to view many street photographers’ works.

In the photography of Walker Evans, the visuality of urban life reveals important cultural information about his early 20th century work. At the time of his black and white street photography, capitalism was very much changing the appearance of city streets as the ability to mass produce goods brought about consumerist culture. As we readily recognize, urban street signage dots the landscape:

New Orleans Street Corner, 1935

What does this photo tell us about the urban setting in which it was taken? We can extract a lot just through a quick glance: what language is spoken there, what kinds of products are consumed there, what kind of cars are driven there etc. etc.. Objectively, it’s also relevant to look at the scene as a whole and consider how drastic the advertising really is in relation to the entire scene. Only the fruits and vegetables in the shop window remind us of the natural world and the resources that many of our products are created from.

Later, Fred Herzog mostly documented the changing streets of Vancouver, a city on the west coast of Canada, revealing again, the almost-overwhelming presence of street signs and advertisements, as the city moved from “backwater town” to a world-class city with many desirable goods and services for its inhabitants.

The above photo, taken in Vancouver in 1968, brings colour into the visual spectrum of street photography. The viewer is bombarded by brightly coloured neon and back-lit signage, “games, guns, movies,” “western gym,” “washington.”  

Most street photographers at this time were still using black and white, while Herzog preferred to work in Kodachrome, and shot on slide film. Although unnoticed for years, his work is now recognized as an important body of historical photographs.  Today, the colours, font and designs of those streets signs are associated with forgotten signage in dilapidated and run-down neighbourhoods. The fact that his slide films were just recently developed into prints for exhibitions provides an extraordinary opportunity to look at “new” prints that contain outdated cultural information, including fonts and colours that we no longer associate with contemporary  city scenes.


Arcade, 1968

Herzog also created some interesting use of text in his street photography. One word in the photo below hangs in the frame of a very theatrical San-Francisco moment. What is it about the word “only” that continually piques our curiosity each time we look at it? Here, Herzog has selected a moment in time, well aware of the text that lingers in the top of the frame, something we’re hoping our photo challenge participants will consider as they go out looking for inspiration.

Finally, urban text takes on a slightly different meaning in the work of Aaron Siskund. In the photo below, the text is abstracted, thereby removing all of the normal information that we would use to analyze an urban scene. We don’t know which language this is taken from (except that it uses the roman alphabet) or what the text originally said. We also don’t know what the text told its readers, so we don’t know what goods or services it attempted to make known. The dirtiness and chipping of the surface suggest to us that the text is old, but it could be from almost any urban setting in the world. Here, the image is more about texture, framing, form and composition – which totally abstracts the urban experience.

Lastly, the photo below emphasizes the influence that abstract expressionism had on Siskund. Again, we are unable to draw factual information about the time and place of this image. However, this is a rather familiar scene – street lamps and telephone poles, plastered with posters and ads that are peeling and weathered in our cities. Here, Siskund introduces the idea of decollage, an artwork produced by removing or tearing away from an original image. This urban photo shows text that is in decay and unreadable, however the image holds our attention. 


Hopefully this provides you with enough examples to get you thinking creatively about the text in your environment. This photochallenges reminds us that what we see everyday impacts what we know and think about the world. Our own creativity is how we make sense of time and place. 

Looking forward to your submissions!  We’ve provided lots of hyper-links here too so there’s lots to read about along the way. Best of luck!

Video: Glocal Interactive Table Prototype Fri, 28 Nov 2008 21:10:07 +0000 jer
Glocal Project: Interactive Table Prototype from Glocal Project on Vimeo.