links to British Columbia media artists from MediaNet’s publication, Crossing Channels

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, in partnership with MediaNet, is currently presenting the Crossing Terrain exhibition, a series of screenings spotlighting the work of some of the best media artists from across the Country. The current artist featured is Victoria’s Richard Raxlen, who is showing 3 works from now until January 12, 2014: Fish Don’t Talk, Song of the Suicides’ Daughter and Everything Reminds Me of My Dog. Raxlen is giving a talk at the Gallery on January 9th at 7pm.

More information on the Crossing Terrain screening series

Crossing Terrain is a continuation of the Crossing Channels series, which was held from July 18 – November 10, 2013. This exhibition was based on a publication put out by MediaNet in the summer of 2012, called Crossing Channels: Essays on Contemporary Media Art in British Columbia.

The Crossing Channels publication contains writings by Jennifer Cane, Marie Prince, Bracken Hanuse-Corlett and Catlin Lewis about media artists, collectives and centres in Vancouver, the Interior, and Victoria.

Below I have included links to works by the artists mentioned in the publication, in preparation for a launch of an ebook in 2014. The printed copy, containing the accompanying essays, as well as information on other media arts events and centres, may be purchased at MediaNet or the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for $10.

In the below list, I have tried to include any site which shows the full video work. Often, the complete work is not available online, in which case, I have included a link to a video clip or still of the piece. The titles of the video works are listed in italics. You will also find links to interviews where available, or to the artists’ home page, or essays about the artist. I hope you enjoy! We have an amazing number of talented media artists in this province (and in this city!). Here’s an informative way to spend your time on these cold winter nights.

Crossing Channels: Essays on Contemporary Media Art in British Columbia (published by MediaNet in 2012)

1. Host, File and Activate: The Past Decade of Media Arts in Vancouver

by Jennifer Cane

Artists:

Mark Soo – Artist’s webpage video of Several Circles

Marina Roy –  video of Apartment

Raymond Boisjoly – video clip of Sense of Reckoning

Kevin Schmidt – still of Long Beach Led Zep

Alex MacKenzie – Artist’s webpage about The Wooden Lightbox

Althea Thauberger – About the artist about A Memory Lasts Forever

Isabelle Pawels – About B+E

Judy Radul – video clip of World Rehearsal Court

Marianne Nicholson- About The House of Ghosts

Geoffrey Farmer – works  And Finally The Street Becomes The Main Character

Jeremy Shaw – About Best Minds Part One (Expanded)

2. First Nations Media Artists: Vancouver Edition

by Marie Prince

Rebecca Belmore – Artist’s website video of The Fountain video still The Blanket

Loretta Todd – About the artist about her films link to purchase Forgotten Warriors

Dana Claxton – Artist’s website written interview with the artist video clip of Waterspeak video clip of Sitting Bull and the Moose Jaw Sioux

Terry Haines- About the artist written interview with the artist video clip of Bloodstorm

James Diamond – About the artist

Frederick Cummings – About the artist

Lisa Jackson – Artist’s website The Visit Savage video clip of Suckerfish video clip of Parkdale

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers – About the artist video clip of Bloodland video clip of A Red Girl’s Reasoning

3. Media Arts in Interior BC: Cross-Cultural Collaborations and Indigenous Media Makers

by Bracken Hanuse Corlett

Mariel Belanger – Artist’s website A Song for Tiger Lily Reminders for the People

Helen Haig Brown – About the artist  Su Naa (My Big Brother) Writing The Land  Pow Wow Driveway 

Chris Bose – Artist’s website About the artist Jesus Coyote Tee Vee  Skelep Prophesies

Victoria Baptiste – Artist’s Website

Cease Wyss – About the artist  Tuytanat film about Cease Wyss Indigenous Plant Diva 

4. Videos from the Edge: Media Art in Victoria

by  Catlin Lewis

Scott Amos – Artist’s website Atagamaton Primordial Soup Pt. 4

Fran Benton – Artist’s website about the artist

Kristina Campbell – Artist’s website speaking at opening of Crossing Channels exhibition Smoke and Mirrors exhibition  video clip of Searching for Emily

Farheen Haq- Artist’s website  video clip of Endless Tether  Adrift

Justin Love – Artist’s website G++ Gallery

Brian MacDonald – stills from Sex and Sadness  About Video Art Therapy

Judith Price – About the artist speaking about her video Elinor

Richard Raxlen – Artist’s website link to film clips about introspective?!*# exhibition

Janet Rogers – About the artist spoken word Just Watch

Grace Salez – About the artist speaking at opening of Crossing Channels exhibition speaking about her site-specific video, Plot 75- E/47 Dance for the Camera workshop

Serina Zapf – Artist’s website videos (un)familiar Waking – chapter 1

Richard Raxlen Introspective?!*√º”ç¥å?!, OPEN SPACE GALLERY,VICTORIA FEB.8 2012

Writing on the exhibition by Richard Raxlen…

In my show at the artist run centre
I paid tribute to a Beat poetess, a midget bookstore owner in Boulder,
and others…

Rick Raxlen - Smoking

One person who i did not mention was an artist called Mashal
Teitelbaum…
I lived with my parents off Avenue Rd below St.Clair in Toronto in the early sixties;
my dad collected bluechip art for investment purposes; I painted
mason board
in the basement of our duplex and tried to copy Ripelle’s style
under  a bare bulb i painted with the board on the floor going round
and round.

Rick Raxlen - Rix Pix

One day i noticed a sign in an Avenue rd. window –it might have
once been a storefront. I think it said
PAINTING LESSONS,

I rang the bell and the man told to come back that night and I did.
The flat was bare bones furnished and a couple of young snot nosed
boys were evident.
The man was Mashel. The story was he was giving lessons because
he had just moved
to Toronto after being fired from U. of Manitoba for glueing
a toilet seat on his abstract painting. He explained that action by
saying it was a gesture to the
Surrealist movement…or so I seem to remember

Rick Raxlen - Spooky

I guess he needed money…so he put a sign in the window and gave
lessons
I kinda remember his wife maybe played a cello.
Anyway I was told to paint a chair because Mashel said that what
Rembrandt or van Gogh
said was a good way to start.
I came for a few lessons and painted a few chairs in some
cheap paint medium on treated masonite…
and these lessons were the only official art lessons I ever took.
Official lessons outside of highschool.
At Upper Canada a small round Russian lady of great age gathered
us in the tower room and I guess tried to teach us something.
I think her last name was Berocovich and I later noted she was a
somewhat famous portrait painter who had emigrated
from Russia. She had little cupid red lipsticky lips and her hands
shook.
Now I am older I can kind of draw a likeness of a person or object…I
like my style enough.
so me, I am not exactly self -taught, which is ok

Rick Raxlen - Olive

Interview with Barbara Sternberg by Richard Raxlen

Barbara Sternberg with fellow Governor Generals Award Recipient, filmmaker David Rimmer

Barbara Sternberg is a filmmaker living in Toronto, who has been producing work since the mid-seventies. Her films have been screened widely across Canada as well as internationally. In 2011, Sternberg was made a Laureate of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

“Sternberg, a tireless champion of experimental film since the mid-1970s,was one of the few women in Canada working in the genre at that time. Her films are both a product of and a challenge to the prevalent structuralist bent of her male counterparts…

Quoting liberally from the writings of gertrude Stein, Sternberg is driven by the same interest in repetition and the everyday…” (From Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film)

Rick: First of all, congrats Barbara!!

Barbara: Thank you!

Rick: A couple of questions…how long has the Media Arts award been given out?

Barbara: 2000 was the first year of awards for Visual and Media Arts – with no fixed number allotted to either category. For instance, in 2003 there was no media artist, but 6 visual artist awards were given out, and one for outstanding achievement.

R: Are you the first woman filmmaker?

B: There has been one other woman- documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin – and only two other experimental filmmakers: Michael Snow and Bruce Elder. And now we have David Rimmer and I in the same year!

R: Can you briefly describe the ceremonial part of the awards event? Was it emotional at all? Did your family attend?

B: The ceremony was very impressive and moving. All the pomp and ceremony of Rideau Hall was given over to the acknowledgment of the arts and artists. Walking in between rows of people standing and clapping, I could hardly choke back tears. And having my son and daughter-in-law there made it even more emotional – for them to see me in this context. Especially as experimental filmmaking is usually not a spotlight type of activity, as we know. The Governor General, the President and Vice-President of the Canada Council all spoke. Then each Laureate was introduced, and stood up on the platform beside the Governor General and his wife, who were seated in two throne-like chairs. The nominator briefly outlined why we were nominated, and then we each spoke briefly in acceptance. We then received a medallion from the Governor General and had a photo taken with him. After the ceremony, there was a dinner with fancy local foods, and everyone wearing formal attire. Rideau Hall is fabulous – we walked about and saw the different rooms filled with Canadian art and artifacts.

Barbara Sternberg (seated, fourth from right) with other award winners at the Governor General's awards ceremony

R: Has there been a noticable surge in interest in your work? More rentals or purchases?I know that with the Governor Generals award relating to literature, there is a great deal of discussion and promotion of the works by publishers.

B: NO – disappointingly, so far my distributor has not capitalized on the award, nor have others been beating down my door with offers. The press and TV did not mention it – except for the ads Canada Council put in. With the Giller and other literary awards it’s a big media event. The day after the ceremony in Ottawa, the only culture news was Elizabeth Taylor’s death, with her picture on the front page of the Globe.

R: I wonder if you can think of some way of getting the film works out to the public? DVDs in bookstores? Tours? Any ideas?

B: Certainly art gallery bookstores like the AGO should carry this type of work. Artist-run centres could be having regular screenings of experimental film as part of their ongoing programming, and the big public museums should buy and show film as part of their contemporary art exhibitions. Art magazines like Canadian Art and Border Crossings do not write about our films but should.

The mainstream media has let us down in so many areas, and has certainly abdicated their responsibility in the cultural sphere. According to CBC, Canada = hockey. Why do we know the names of American avant-garde artists? Because they are published, written about, even put in art calendars. And why do we know about American mainstream/Hollywood films? Because they spend zillions on advertising and TV talk shows.  We need to have more than a xeroxed poster on a hydro pole if we want to have the general public become aware of the existence of our work. The web might help – but that tends to reach people who are already watching.

Granted our work will not attract a mass audience – and so maybe we should be satisfied with the small but committed (ha-ha) audiences we get…but I think in general our work needs to be less hidden.

R: Many more avenues of distribution are open via the internet. Do you have any work on websites? Do you believe in the web as a source of distribution, or not? Do you look at the work of other filmmakers on the internet? Or avoid its long reach?

B: I look at Youtube things if someone sends me a link – but then it has to be nice and short – punchy and perhaps funny!  It doesn’t suit my work really, though Light Cone (a distributor in Paris) put “Once” on their site.

I have a website but so far only with stills from films. I might reconsider and put some excerpts.

I have made Youtube/Vimeo short bio pieces on three (so far) Canadian artists – Carl Brown, Marla Hlady and Anne O’Callaghan – in an attempt to familiarize Canadians with our contemporary artists. Check it out under CDNartists.

There is a problem I think with distributor’s catalogues being online instead of in print; namely that you have to know what you’re looking for online – you can’t just flip through the catalogue and notice a film or maker that catches your eye.

R: The Oscar win for best actress/actor seem to be unlucky for the winning actors. How has this award affected you? Has it given you energy and focus and momentum?

B: Actually, it was a bit time-consuming and distracting for several months, during preparations with the Canada Council. The accompanying exhibition at the National Gallery also took a lot of work – trying to get the National Gallery to treat film more as they do other art forms, and lots of emails and talks with the assistant curator.

But truly having experimental film win the Governor General is really a boost; the recognition of the form itself, and of me personally. There aren’t many ways in which the world tells us, good going – keep it up. Now how to HEAR that message and not lose it.

R: You mentioned you were finishing a new film, waiting on a release print. Can you talk about your new film? What is it about?

B: It’s called “in the nature of things,” a phrase from Thomas Bernhard’s writings. It’s 42min. colour with sound by Rainer Wiens, and uses the main image of a Forest into which are inserted, via optical printing, smaller square, photo-shaped images – images suggestive of the myths associated with the Forest as a transitional space, a space/time between, not living but not dead – like old age. Autumnal.

R: You have been meeting with Art Gallery of Ontario staff to discuss a donation of Canadian films, which they would program in the future.  How is that going? I know the filmmakers are donating their work. Is the AGO receptive to this idea?

B: Slowly – it seems not to be going forward. You would think that a gift of films from a group of established Canadian filmmakers would be welcomed with open arms – but so far I’ve received nothing concrete from them regarding this project.

R: Do you have thoughts on the avant-garde, personal, art-driven filmmaking that is happening today? When you reflect on your career, can you sense changes? Is it harder now?

B:  There is a lot of activity now – lots of people making films, including a lot of women.  There’s quite a bit of hand-processing, an artisanal approach. Lots of Festivals (which have their own aesthetic and programming strategies), that filmmakers go to to network, make contacts, get screenings and invites. The age of the audience seems to stay the same, as does the size of the audience (predominently young people, small groups), and the single screening, one-offs are still the method of showing work. Group programmes demand shorter work connected by a theme, which is limiting. Very often people ask me where they can see my films – and the answer is you can’t!  You missed the one screening, and that’s that! It is a problem, one which other art forms don’t face.

I haven’t noticed a big change in Academia. Film departments are still separate from Fine Arts, and within film, experimental film is still fringe. So talks by academics on Time/Space or talks based on Deleuze etc. still use Hitchcock’s films as examples instead of the very pertinent, right on examples from experimental films.

Major galleries, that collected film until the 70’s or 80’s, no longer collect and don’t show from their existing collections. They seem to have a mental block.

The biggest current change is of course the digital take-over (of the world!), so it is harder and harder to finish a film on film. Almost no labs do 16mm. release prints.  We’re losing the knowledge. It’s a grueling process -I perservere though! Ideas are still coming that entice me to make a film, or in some cases, a video. Sometimes it has been easier, since I’ve developed some facility, but then as often as not there’s some troubling upsets, or stumbling blocks. It’s a process with various moments of ease or difficulty, sureness or doubt – kind of like life!

Pacific Wayfinders Media Panel – Susan Smitten

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Pacific Wayfinders Conference, Nov 11, 2010. Media as a Tool for Communication, Advocacy & Education. Moderator – Kirk Schwartz. Panelist – Susan Smitten. Susan Smitten is the Executive Director of RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Envoronmental Needs. She is a filmmaker, television producer, journalist and writer. Her films include “Blue Gold: the Tsilhqot’in Fight for Teztan Biny”

Pacific Wayfinders Media Panel – Barbara Hager

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acific Wayfinders Conference, Nov 11, 2010. Media as a Tool for Communication, Advocacy & Education. Moderator – Kirk Schwartz. Panelist – Barbara Hager. Barbara Hager is television and documentary producer, writer and director. She is the Producer and Director of “The New Canoe” which airs on CHUM, CTV and APTN. She is the author of two biographies: “Honour Song” and “On Her Way: the Life and Music of Shania Twain”.

Pacific Wayfinders Media Panel – Renagi Katiola Ugava Taukarai

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acific Wayfinders Conference, Nov 11, 2010. Media as a Tool for Communication, Advocacy & Education. Moderator – Kirk Schwartz. Panelist – Renagi Katiola Ugava Taukarai. Renagi is a Journalist and Producer from Papua New Guinea. She has worked as a host, journalist and producer for FM100 in Papua New Guinea. She recently established “One Productions”, a TV and Radio production company focused on development issues in the Pacific

Pacific Wayfinders Media Panel – Jeannette Paulson Hereniko

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acific Wayfinders Conference, Nov 11, 2010. Media as a Tool for Communication, Advocacy & Education. Moderator – Kirk Schwartz. Jeannette Paulson Hereniko. Jeannette is president of Asia Pacific Films, an online film library streaming over 500 films. She is the founder of the Hawaii International Film Festival and served as its director from 1981 to 1986. She was the Founding Director of the Asia Pacific Media Center at the University of Southern Californina. She is the Producer of the award winning film “The Land Has Eyes”