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34: on writing

33: on land

32: weak systems

31: mapping | photography

30: ethics and publics

29: geology

28: sound online

28:sound links site

 

27: rural urbanism

27:rural urbanism online

 

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read onsite 22: WAR online

On Site 22: WAR has sold out in the print version, but you can read it online

read onsite 21: weather online

read onsite 20: museums and archives onlineonsite 20 individually archived articles

onsite 20:museums and archives has sold out in the print version, but you can read it online

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Entries in videos (77)

Monday
Dec282015

Bow and Arrow

the other side of my Alberta:

Thursday
Dec172015

Tanya Tagaq: Nanook of the North, 2012

Amid all the flurry of Tanya Tagaq's soundtrack to a re-issue of Robert Flaherty's 1923 silent film, Nanook of the North, here is an earlier video where she explains throat singing.  She appears to be in the British Museum, an interesting post-colonial meeting of ancient cultures, hers a bit older than the one in the background.

And here is a short excerpt of her performance at TIFF First Peoples 2012, accompanying the screening of Nanook of the North.

Flaherty's view of the north, based on laughing children and naive hunters bringing pelts in to a Hudson's Bay post, was famous and deeply patronising. 

Tagaq's soundtrack (composed by Derek Charke, with Tagaq and musicians Jesse Zubot and Jean Martin), the power of the voice, the chords, the sound of the wind and the animals, goes a long way to undercut the paternalism of Flaherty's gaze.  Tagaq's is a complex post-colonial project: to walk forward to encounter the colonial past and, while protecting, even feeding, the subjects of the film, to reveal the ethnographic expoitation of the filmmaker.  It is complex because although the Inuit in the film are real, this first film that showed how they lived was completely constructed by Flaherty. 

I saw Nanook of the North a long time ago, in the ealy 90s, and had to watch it in two minds: one saw the people, the other saw the ways that 'the people' were being made palatable to the film-going public through a sentimental narrative that goes, still, to the heart of attempts at reconciliation culminating in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released this week.  The more we see the truly tragic little people sitting at their desks in their Residential Schools, being so good, and so sad, the more they seem to obliterate the images of their descendents who are still struggling: not as photogenic, more present as some work at keeping one's alleys free of bottles, others get their PhDs.  The great awakening of the Canadian public to Residential Schools (why they needed awakening is a mystery as almost every community in Canada knew precisely where the school was) has, I fear, awakened a sentimentality that does not lead anyone out of the woods. 

Here, in all its endless insult is Flaherty's Nanook of the North:

 

Wednesday
Sep162015

Bahamas: Please Forgive My Heart, 2013

This particular video is of the recording studio units that were used for Bahamas's Please Forgive My Heart, evidently a rare 1967 Germanium Neve console, which means nothing to me, but they also show a tiled shower stall for reverb.  I know about this because Eon Sinclair wrote an article in On Site review 28:sound 'Singing in the Rain', p43, about all the music recorded in washrooms in the 50s and 60s. Please Forgive My Heart is a Bobby Womack song, but that is by the way, other than his version of 2012 sounds pretty electronic – I don't think a shower played a part.

There were a lot of sound links in Eon's article which aren't linked in the ISSUU pdf, but are found here: www.onsitereview.ca/28/p43  We had to take off a few for copyright violation, but what's left is a half dozen videos with beautiful reverb.

It is always encouraging to find a substrata of creative activity that actually prefers the old techniques: vinyl lovers is one – a richer sound supposedly.  As I never get rid of anything, I still have my old vinyl collection, but without a system anymore to play it on, other that the Philips portable turntable I got for my birthday in grade 11, but which turns slightly faster than it should having had the belt replaced by Philips in London to suit the change in power delivery.  A long sentence, but one could do such things once. 

Friday
Jul242015

Llorando se fue

All right, it is late July, it is hot, it is almost the weekend.  Yesterday, the ice cream van tootled down the street playing Lambada, a great advance on last summer's Theme from The Sting, over and over and over.

I have a list here of various versions of Llorando se fue, the song first recorded by the Bolivian group Los Kjarkas in 1981.  Kjarkas taught Andean folk in both Peru and Ecuador and they and the music travelled far; in the 1990s a little Andean group could be found in most North American plazas or busy street corners:  the one outside The Bay on Granville and Georgia in Vancouver was a solid fixture, eternally good-humoured while playing on the grey streets in the rain. 

Llorando se fue was recorded in 1989 by Kaoma in Portuguese whereby it became the Lambada and a huge pop hit.  I first heard it the first morning I was in Barcelona where two gitanos (always up on the absolutely latest tunes) with an accordian and a guitar were playing it at triple speed under the balcony.  I was entranced.

This is an early video version of Llorando se fue, where Gonzalo Hermosa González looks about 15.


and then what happens when it goes French:  Kaoma and Brazilian Loalwa Braz and two rather brilliant child dancers. 


 Honestly. The eighties. They were fun.  in places.

Tuesday
Mar312015

Tim Pearne: ground, Goode Beach, Western Australia

Wednesday
Jan212015

P J Harvey: On Battleship Hill, 2011

Tuesday
Nov112014

Armistice Day 2014

How different our lives, our countries, our world, would be had none of these hundreds of thousands of young men been killed. 

Wednesday
Sep032014

Andrew King: Trans Architecture

A rather beautiful, tiny little video for Andrew King's current lecture about his work.

And a full lecture here: Gerald Sheff Lecture Winter 2012 at McGill.

 

Friday
Jun132014

Dar um Jeito, 2014

Supposedly this is the official 2014 FIFA World Cup anthem, not that dreadful piece of commercial plastic Ole Ola, which is merely the official song

I'll take this one: lots of Carlos Santana, Wyclef and Alexandre Pires.  Brilliant video.  Dar um jeito: We will find a way. Here we go. That's all we know.

Monday
May122014

once strong, but now weak, systems

This video, Andy Merrifield outlining the basis for his book The New Urban Question, came by way of Rodrigo Barros, a Chilean architect currently training as a construction logistician for Médecins Sans Frontiers.  Barros did a brilliant piece for On Site review 31: mapping | photography on the 'rightness' of maps that centre on the United States and allow South America to drift off the global view.  His is the view from the South.
 
This particular view, after forty years of intense geopolitical theorising from Latin America, is his lens, and so he picks up on a certain theoretical vocabulary found in Merrifield's brief outline of just how Manuel Castells' explanation of urban social movements has been superseded by a new form of divisive capitalism.  

When states can no longer afford the social services they subsidised in the full flush of postwar capitalist development, their disinvestment in such things as health care and housing pushed such services into the private sector.  This gave rise to urban social movements which struggled to hold governments to their role as keepers of some sort of public faith.  Merrifield feels that the turn to mass privatisation in the 1980s and 90s obliviated urban social movements and that a new paradigm must be developed that returns public space to the public, public health to the public, public housing to the public, the public service to the public.  

Just yesterday there was an interview on CBC with the head of Canada Post whose former position was as the head of Pitney Bowes. There we are. Pitney Bowes is an American private mail and data service for businesses.  Under the Pitney Bowes model, Canadian mail is no longer a public service, it is a corporate business, thus the end of home delivery, the shocking price of stamps and the full support of our current neo-conservative Thatcher/Reaganite form of government. This gives me particular grief.  We are a non-profit publisher with a publications mail contract with Canada Post which gives us a discount on mailing On Site review, except for international mailings which tend never to arrive.  Or if they do arrive it has taken six months to get to, say, Denmark. In contrast, Valery Didion's Criticat is sent from France at a book rate, €2.95, which gets here in a week.  In return I send On Site back to them at publications rate which may or may not get there several months later, or I spend $18 to send it letter mail which gets there in a week.  

Somehow Canada as a wide, dispersed country only sees urban social movements of any consequence in Toronto and Montréal, especially Montréal, infrequently and now rarely, Toronto.  In the rest of the country there isn't the critical mass to act collectively from say, Alberta to Manitoba, so sparse is the population. CBC used to be the glue that held us together, its recent cuts have been lethal.  It is all one with the sacking of scientists, the gutting of census collection and analysis, the cutting free of wounded Canadian Forces from their pensions, cutbacks to universities: the private sector is supposed to be picking up the slack, but it isn't.  And the time is past, according to Merrifield, for Castells' urban social movements to have any influence at all.  In this country, we missed that phase altogether.  

Tuesday
Mar252014

the violence of drawing: Yara Pina, 2011

From The Drawing Center's description:

Yara Pina is one of 54 artists chosen for The Drawing Center’s new Open Sessions program, which will  explore drawing as an expansive practice, tool, metaphor and  theme. Open Sessions offers alternative opportunities for contextualizing and exhibiting artwork, bringing a range of artists into conversation with each other. Pina’s work dialogues with traditional drawing by using one of its most tried-and-true tools, charcoal, to aggressively deconstruct the gallery space.

Yara Pina. Untitled 4, 2012 ; Untitled 2, 2011 - videos in loop from Yara Pina on Vimeo.

Thursday
Mar202014

The Weather Diaries, 2014

News of this, The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, by Cooper & Gorfer, came by way of Nicole Dextras, no slouch at weather herself.

The video is a look at a very distant, very connected, place.

The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale by Cooper & Gorfer from Gestalten on Vimeo.

The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale by Cooper & Gorfer from Gestalten on Vimeo.

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Afterlife, 2013

The Arcade Fire video, Afterlife, directed by the remarkable Emily Kai Bock.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Saskia Sassen: dense urbanised terrain – not a city

Uneven Growth, Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities. Part of a series, this one with Saskia Sassen, on the MoMAmultimedia site.

Thursday
Jan232014

more flight paths

Murder of Crows from Dennis Hlynsky on Vimeo.

Dennis Hlynsky, who teaches at RISD, has a number of these small films on his website. His post, 'murmuration of starlings' outlines how he does it all technically.
After watching these videos for a while you start to recognise slow hops from wire to wire and swift flashes across the sky.  Presumably each trail is visible for the same time in these films – clearly some birds are lazy little laggards. Or maybe just tired.

data in data out from Dennis Hlynsky on Vimeo.

Friday
Jan032014

a jewel in Ethiop's ear

Amharic music of Ambassel, by Bahiru Kegne. 

The comments on the YouTube placement tell of a lonely Ethiopian diaspora who hear this music directly in their hearts.  Another video of terrible audio quality, low resolution, moves one to tears in some sort of empathy.

More at www.ethiofekade.net/Ambassel

Tuesday
Dec242013

gentle light that wakes me

Ian Drever and Duncan Chisholm, live, terrible audio, not much to look at, but a beautiful piece for Christmas week. 

all the best to you all.

The Gentle Light that Wakes Me, written by Phil Cunningham.

2008 Orkney Folk Festival.

Monday
Dec232013

Christmas, rough

Saul Leiter, Snow, 1960. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

should be accompanied by the Pogues:

Thursday
Dec192013

christmas cakes

Puza Mandla fruit cake

It is a curious struggle to be on the right side of history.  Someone once mentioned that if everyone in France who said after the war they were in the Resistance actually had been, the war would have been much shorter.  
Something like this is happening in South Africa: evidently almost everyone was a Mandela supporter, for decades, even during apartheid.  Had that actually been true, he wouldn't have been on Robben Island for 27 years.  

The Robben Island Christmas Cake Story: depending on the source, either Mrs Brand, the wife of a warden on the political prisoner's wing, made a cake for the political prisoners each Christmas from 1985, continuing even when they all were in parliament, or Laloo Chiba, a fellow detainee, made the cake from 1978 on.  

Now, this recipe is structurally unlike anything I've ever encountered, ever.  I need a chemist to tell me how it works: a bread pudding (bread torn up, sprinkled with currants and cocoa powder) made in a round biscuit tin, but instead of eggs and milk to make it all stick together, you use puzamandla.  Puzamandla is drink made of sorghum, corn meal and yeast, so it is fermented, like sourdough starter or injera.  It was part of the Robben Island food rations, but in a very weak version.  Anyway, you pour puzamandla over the bread and raisins, let it sit 6 hours then put a plate on the top and a brick on the plate to press it all down for another 6 hours.  It isn't cooked.  It was a terrific treat.  

And for those of you who watch cooking programs, make sense of this, the new South Africa: 

Anel Poltgieter has messed around with the recipe a bit, baking a bread pudding.  But the real recipe is Laloo Chiba's from Anna Trapido's 2009 gastro-political biography, Hunger for Freedom.

Thursday
Dec122013

Gee's Bend women

Right.  Having spent most of the morning watching various Gee's Bend videos, have found this absolutely beautiful one on vimeo posted by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.  It says it all. 

28 minutes long.

THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND from Souls Grown Deep Foundation on Vimeo.