January, 2012

Listening to Love: comments

Posted on: 29 January 2012 by John


Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011 

John Shipman, invitation to Listening to Love, Nuit Blanche 2011The following is a selection from the 100 written comments received from 441 visitors about the interactive multi-media installation about gender and sexuality: Listening to Love: next time can we choose our gender? that I presented at St. Matthew's Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West, as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto.

Visitor comments:

I have three daughters. Nothing but questions on my mind. How will I support them in their choices? How will I do? Thank you.

Interesting what combination I felt most comfortable listening to: woman to man which is the sort of relationship I'm in right now. The other combinations I wasn't as interested in what they were saying. Cause for thought...

Amazing. What a great way to start a necessary communication.

I like this. At first it was kind of cheesy, but really enjoyed it afterwards — felt warm and kind of oddly validating.

Fascinating that it was held in a church; almost ironic.

It is distasteful to put this exhibit in a church.

Another visitor responded to the comment above: That's the point. Open your mind. Loosen up! I love art and ideas in a church!

I love the way Facebook says we are in a relationship. It makes me laugh. Not because it's funny, but because it makes me happy [a quote from one of the gendRphone voices]. So good. I really enjoyed this — perhaps this will be my highlight at Nuit Blanche?

Beautiful. Everyone should have a gendRphone of their own — nice for the good days and the bad.

I loved the message and I loved the form the installation took. I loved the discussion with you.

So lovely... Such a treat to see another great project — I especially enjoyed sitting in a booth where everyone is connected through the shared inner circle.

The text on those little business cards is very well put. I took one... hope you don't mind.

I love the space and the setup. The music, the gendRbooths, they all struck a cord. And the art out front, it fit perfectly with the theme. The cards were a great touch.

Fascinating! Why were the voices automated / robotic? It seemed to deprive it of the emotional intensity I was expecting.

Wow! Great installation. Nicely designed/crafted, suits the space very well!

And from a child: Dear John, I liked the way you shoed girls and boys and it was very nice. I was cind of inspierd but again I didint reely know about it.

Read John Shipman at Nuit Blanche, a review by Heather Saunders

Originally posted 11 October 2011

Invitation: Joy Shipman

Today Years Ago: a long poem

Posted on: 29 January 2012 by John


John Shipman, Today Years Ago, 2010 This long poem written in 2010 is comprised of rediscovered, reconstructed, and re-purposed fragments of western art history excavated from Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas by Charles Harrison and Paul Woods. It pulls phrases from their original context and places them within a larger sequence: a sort of text sampling, a larger context that they in some sense helped shape. In part, it suggests an intellectual history of my own interests as they have been constructed from others' words and ideas.


Today Years Ago: fragments from western art history: 1906 to 1991

1906> The counter-pole to the need for empathy is the urge to abstraction —
1906> Returning the individual thing to its arbitrariness and seeming fortuitousness.
1908> The telegraph hammers all over Europe, but tells hardly a word of the glory of Messina —
1910> Movement and light.

1913> The world, a monstrous, fantastic, perpetually moving machine.
1914> Painting sets before us that which a person could and should see —
1915> The movement of red, green and blue,
1915> Constructed on the basis of weight, speed, and the direction of movement.

1912> Not the situation of objects, but the situation of a spectator —
1912> An internal strength whose radiance shines all around.
1913> Superfluous development of sentimental and popular subject matter —
1913> This is that.

Read the complete poem.
Download Today Years Ago.

Originally posted 19 December 2010

All Night I Mourned Myself: comments

Posted on: 29 January 2012 by John


Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto 2010

John Shipman, poster for All Night I Mourned Myself, Nuit Blanche 2010 Visitors made a surprising 217 entries in the four comment books available during the 12-hour, night-long presentation of All Night I Mourned Myself: when I am gone what will be said? Approximately 600 people made their way to Toronto's farthest north Scotiabank Nuit Blanche project at St. Matthew's Church on St. Clair Avenue West. While most arrived between 7 pm and 1 am, 20 visitors stopped by between 6 and 7 am. Visitors in 2010 almost doubled 2009's total number of visitors to the same location.

Seven people indicated that All Night was the best or one of the best Nuit Blanche projects they had seen. Eighty seven visitors found the installation moving, engaging, powerful, profound, awesome, beautiful, very good, really enjoyable, magical.

Twenty nine people commented on more abstract aspects of life and death, 11 referred to someone they were mourning and 10 commented about attending their own funeral. That one third of the visitors commented suggests All Night evoked a strong response.

Comments ranged from the agonizingly personal — one visitor filled a page with a list of 28 friends, relatives and pets that had died — to a few hard to decipher drawings.

Visitor comments:

The entire experience was fantastic. Very moving. It was difficult to leave the pew! The music was beautiful, the words beautiful, the photos too! Amazing work.

Beautiful installation. Very peaceful and thought-provoking. The computerized voices captured the mood brilliantly.

This was a great piece! The music made me sad but had happy moments to keep me in neutral thought. It's great to displace yourself for a few moments and put some thought into such a meaningful idea. Great work.

It was genius. Made me think of my late grandma, and made me run off. It was very interesting either way and very mind-blowing.

A very good project, very deep meaningful perspective into the deep individual way of dealing and conceptualizing one’s death and its perspective. One of the only pieces I saw this year which was able to convey a deep meaning which can be both spiritual and which can connect with any religion and ethnic background. Sorry, I just loved it. Hope to see more in the future.

Thanks to St. Matthew's for an innovative use of your church — wonderful installation and well done — keep it up!

Very unique, interesting, beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for your work. Best piece at Nuit Blanche!

Cool idea. Next time let us choose our gender.

Originally posted 24 November 2010
Full report available on request.
Poster: Joy Shipman

Dragging my video camera down the front steps

Posted on: 29 January 2012 by John


30 years of unconventional camera movements from the Vtape collection · 2009

John Shipman, poster for Dragging My Video Camera at Vtape, 2009 This essay was written for a project I curated at Vtape that included a 60-minute program of eight short videos by Leslie Peters, Jeremy Drummond, Vanessa Renwick, Gunilla Josephson, Tom Sherman and Jean Piche, Samuel Chow, Steve Reinke and Martha Wilson that used unusual camera positions and movements to create a slightly different visual gravity: showing things improbable but viscerally informative.

Anxious, thoughtful video artists hear many contradictory whispers about how they might position and move a video camera. Visual memories of camera movement from the hours, days and months of watching commercial television and movies disturb their optical unconscious. Whispers pursuing them range from levelness, verticality, and not crossing the index vector line, to the conventions of various genres, and other axioms on camera positions and movements. Altogether they form a formidable presence and usually an effective predictor of camera positioning and movement. Perhaps the loudest whispers are the ones about levelness and verticality — the viewers’ expectations about the relationship between the projected image and the centre of the Earth.

In 1609, Galileo used a primitive telescope that enable him to conclude that there were mountains on the Moon, and small bodies orbiting Jupiter. Encouraged by these observations, he published his Dialogue on the Great World Systems (1632) in which he asked his readers to consider that having the Earth rotating around the Sun did not need to compromise their spiritual beliefs. Galileo, a champion of problematic views and a user of a visual apparatus, re-emerges here in the 21st century with a determined but cryptic perspective on the conventions of camera movement. He is joined by his foil from the 1600s, Simplicico, in an imagined dialogue about the movement of video cameras with respect to the centre of the Earth (1):

Simplicico: We expect people and other vertical objects to stand upright on level ground. A tilted horizon is sloppy camera work.

Galileo: It is possible to force the apparatus to produce something impossible to see in advance, something improbable, something informative.

Read the complete Vtape essay.
Download the essay.

Originally posted 27 October 2010