Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for the 'Art' Category

A Giant Egg That Joel Won’t Eat

On Friday night, I was finally able to cash on Danielle’s present from our second wedding anniversary back in mid-October and we headed down to the docklands to witness first-hand the spectacle of Cirque de Soleil‘s latest creation, OVO.  If you’re not at least familiar with Cirque de Soleil, then you’ve either been living under a rock for the last decade or been a guest in a Turkish prison.  These guys are everywhere now, and I mean EVERYWHERE.  For example, their founder just took a trip into space, for goodness’ sake.

The trick to a Cirque de Soleil show is that they take the acrobatics and theatrics of the circus known and loved by all since P.T. Barnum first noticed the frequent birthrate of suckers, and put them to a storyline that translates to all languages and cultures.  Throw in some amazing music and stunning costumes and you’ve got yourself a hit show.

This show was no different.  Set in the world of insects, a young bug on a pilgrimage with a giant egg finds unlikely love in the midst of trapeze-crazy beetles, trampoline-loving grasshoppers and body-bending bugs of all shapes and sizes.  There’s a giant booty-shaking worm in there to keep things light-hearted.

Audience participation was all part of the show and we were encouraged to laugh, clap and provide sound effects at various points, with a few lucky audience members pulled in for some comic relief.  These people are the very definition of showmen.

My only previous experience with Cirque de Soleil was seeing one of their films in IMAX a few years ago, and it was breathtaking.  I’ve also seen a few documentaries about their schools and training as well as a few of their television specials, but nothing prepared me for the live spectacle.

The big-t0p tent where it all happens (they call it the ‘Chapiteau’) is spacious with seating for a few thousand, but they really cram you in, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Since most of the action is happening well above seat-level, you can catch every nuance and movement.  One drawback is that you leave with ‘fireworks neck’ from staring up in the air for long periods of time, which is a small price to pay for such a great show.

My only gripe was the parking nightmare in the lot off Commissioner’s Drive at the end of the show, which is hardly the fault of the Cirque.

Ovo is finished here in Toronto, but will be in London on November 12, Montreal on December 18, Quebec City on January 5th and Chicoutimi January 13 to 17.  There are dates all over the US as well.  You can check out the touring schedule here.

It’s well worth the ticket price for such a great show, so check them out.

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How to Murder a Pumpkinman

It’s easier than it sounds, and the only way you’ll know if you’re man enough to do it when the time comes is to roll up your sleeves and stick that knife in deep.  If you think some step-by-step instructions might help, check out the pictures below.

[Click on images to see them in larger size]

Stage one: corpse preparation

Stage one: corpse preparation

The first step is to set up your murder preparation area.  Be sure to have some Sharpies on hand for drawing out your murderous design ahead of time. We opted to tape a garbage bag over our kitchen table to minimize the unpleasant  splatter.  I say ‘minimize’ because Danielle is a bit of a pumpkin-sadist.

Step two: brain removal

Step two: brain removal

This is basically just photographic proof of aforementioned pumpkin-sadism.  If our hallowe’en setup ever lands us in a courtroom, this will make sure I’m not the only one implicated.

Step three: chop-chop, stab-stab

Step three: chop-chop, stab-stab

Make sure your design has cartoony enough ‘dead eyes’ so that any little kids won’t have years of nightmares and hundreds of thousands of dollars in psychiatric bills in their futures.

Going batty

Going batty

Danielle opted for a design that, while unorthodox, was also a little more kid-friendly.  She drew her stencil free-hand from one we found on the net.  Pretty impressive.

Bats prefer the dark

Bats prefer the dark

More impressive at the first test lighting at the tail-end of the carving process.

Step four: test fire

Step four: test fire

Back to the Pumpkinman victim, his test-lighting was also a success.  Notice the bullet hole entry wound on the side of his head.  Apparently it was a nice, clean shot.

Step five: test fitting

Step five: test fitting

It’s always a good idea to take a photo of ANY jack’o’lantern as a replacement for your own head.  Aside from being wicked funny, you can also use it for secondary identification for bank loans or as your passport photo (but only pictures without smiles).

Step six: showin off

Step six: showin' off

Also be sure to take the ever important ‘Headless Horsemen holding his skull’ photo…

More showin off

More showin' off

… or the ‘here’s my carved bats’ photo.  You know, whatever goes.

Step seven: survey entry wound

Step seven: survey entry wound

Once the pumpkin was carved, I stuffed an old ski jacket, ski pants, work gloves and army boots with balloons to look like a human body.  I set my newly murderated corpse against our front porch and cordoned off his murder scene with some very official “Do Not Cross – Police” tape.

Step eight: survey exit wound

Step eight: survey exit wound

Oh, and then I stuffed pumpkin guts into an exit wound I carved into his head.  I guess this is where the post makes the jump from a  PG-13 rating to a solid R.

Step nine: the body in situ

Step nine: the body in situ

And this is my first Pumpkinman staged murder scene. I learned many valuable lessons, but I’m really happy overall with the final set up.

More bats, for effect

More bats, for effect

Just to make things extra scary, Danielle’s bats cast an eerie glow over the whole scene.  Either that, or she was trying to call Batman to solve the murder of Peter Pumpkinhead.

Step ten: light up the murder scene

Step ten: light up the murder scene

And last but not least, we lit up his head and sat back on the porch to await the kiddies who would be frightened by the gory scene that lay in front of them.

Next year, I think I’ll go a little more graphic and have a few victims spread out all over the lawn.  I might even have pumpkinheaded cops arresting a pumpkinheaded murderer and showing a little pumpkinead-brutality.  Yeah, that’ll hit the spot.


Nuit Blah

Man, what a letdown Nuit Blanche ended up being.  We rode the Queen streetcar through Zone A and saw the light installation at City Hall, which I’d read was pretty impressive, but not at that particular moment.  Then we walked right through Zones B and C and saw nothing interesting.

In Trinity Bellwoods Park, there was a light wall with coloured plastic bottles that you put in the wall like a LiteBrite and there was also a DJ crew spinning music, neither of which were all that interesting.  We walked the stretch of Queen where all the galleries are and a few had artists creating on site, but not many.  Seeing a guy work in wax on paper was probably the highlight of the night.

Zone C was the biggest letdown.  People on bikes dragging stuff behind them?  A shipping container with wire trees in it?

Maybe my expectations were a little too high, but I don’t think that was the case at all.  I think maybe (like most grassroots events that hit it big) the dream and the execution ended up being very different things.  To be as big as advertised, the event needs more big installations that really wow people, not a lot of the kind of stuff we can see in any gallery on any given day.

The other highlight of the night, something that ALWAYS works at Nuit Blanche, was wandering around with friends.  We had a few drinks together, caught up with one another and laughed and laughed and laughed.  So in one sense, it was a pretty good night.

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Radio Killed the Literacy Star

Are you looking to kill some time today?  Well, look no further, for I bring good tidings of great joy.  SilentTalkie has new content to fill your eys and ears!

Squids and Bears and Art, OH MY!

Squids and Bears and Art, OH MY!

Getting the old gal into shape has been keeping us busy, but she’s now pretty enough to be taken out in public, and the two newest articles might just be enough to keep you coming back.

One is an in-depth research paper into how the internet has essentially rendered our own memories completely useless and was written by yours truly (you can read it here).

The second, and more exciting post is the ressurection of a much-loved and oft-missed radio show in podcast form called “The Brown Couch of Leisure” (or BCOL for short).  It’s the first post in our new feature section called “STRadio” which is available for podcast, in-browser listening, download or anything else you could ever want to do with it.  The BCOL will become a regular feature on STRadio, along with other delicious audio content.  You can listen to the first STRadio show and get the full track-listing courtesy of the BCOL here.

As always, if you’d like to contribute articles, radio shows or ideas, or if you just want to get invovled in any way, check out any one of the ways to Contact Us.  And don’t forget to tell your friends and share the link-love.

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A Sneak Peek at the Internet’s Best-kept Ssssecret

In just over a month, a favouite pet project of mine (going back to 2006) will be reappearing on the internet scene after a long hiatus.  Long-time readers will no doubt recall my sometimes violent demands for content, comments and contributions to the online arts magazine Silenttalkie.  Well, the demands are no more, but the magazine is back (almost)… and in blog form!

Still awesome after all these years

Still awesome after all these years

The ‘talkie has had its share of sadness since it was last online.  We allowed the domain name to lapse (and fortunately it wasn’t picked up and farmed out for a high price), our previous magazine layout system has since been found to have egregious flaws that allow ‘hackers’ to violate it in unspeakable ways, and the comments system was hacked by spammers and filled with offers of generic prescription drugs, online poker sites and various enlargers and stiffeners of the penile kind.

For now, the site has soft-launched as a WordPress blog at our old (and original URL) which makes it much easier for aspriring writers, designers and artists to contribute, but given the response to our strong-arm tactics in the past, we’ll go for a much more laid-back approach this time around.  For the next few weeks, we’ll be uploading all our old content into the archives, tweaking the site to make sure everything works A-OK and soliciting new content from whomever might want to pitch in.

Its sink or swim this time around

It's sink or swim this time around

I encourage you to consider becoming a contributor to SilentTalkie, and if you’re wondering what it takes, the answer is simple.  Not much.  Just cobble together an article, submit some photos or original artwork, maybe sketch out a cartoon or submit a list of some cool sites that you’ve been enjoying lately.  We’re not looking for Pulitzer Prize-winning articles, just interesting reading.

As we approach the official launch date (which will include lots of new content and a fully functional site), I’ll write again with more details on how to get involved, but in the meantime, take a little tour around the site and let me know what you think.  If you’re a blogger, maybe think about writing up on the ‘talkie for a future post around our official launch, and if you have a website, how’s about adding a link to spread the good news.  We’ll return the favour.  At Silenttalkie, we’re nothing if not appreciative.

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Nighttime in Paradise

If you’ve known me for at least a few months, or have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably caught on that I’m a pretty big fan of my cottage.  I’ve always thought of it as a magical place, and that stems from a very early age.

When I was a wee lad growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, I firmly believed that God lived at my cottage and He came to the city when we were there visiting.  I mean, where else would God live?  After all, isn’t He a big fan of creation, and where else can you see creation in all its splendor than up there?

Click on photos to see larger versions in a new window 

Tin Roof in a Full Moon

Since I started taking photographs, the cottage has been one of my favourite subjects.  It’s just so different than the things I see everyday.  The old, worn wood of the house and shed, the weathered rock of the Canadian Shield that makes up our front ‘lawn’ and the trees and wildlife are completely foreign to my usual Toronto environment.

Full Moon through Maple and Pine trees

Not to mention the trees and the sky.  On a moonless night, you can see more stars than you could ever count, and when the moon is up and full, you can sit outside and read by the light it throws below.  The way the dusk sunlight dances through tree branches, the sound of the night breeze in the leaves and the hypnotizing way that poplar branches switch from light to dark in the wind as they flip their leaves top and bottom.

Aylmer Road and Hwy. 148 in Fog

It’s safe to say that my favourite time at the cottage is the night.  During the summer, chirping frogs lull you to sleep in between light rainstorms on the tin roof.  Deer and raccoons wander through the forest while bats fly noiselessly through the air over your head.  In the fall, you can see the sky for miles through the leafless trees and more animals are out and about in search of food.  During the winter, the night is absolutely noiseless save for the sound of snow crunching under its own weight.

Now that I’m confident the house won’t collapse, I can safely look forward to a long life enjoying those sights and sounds, sharing them with the people I care about, and trying to capture them as best I can on film.  I just hope God doesn’t mind me crashing at His house.


Wham, Bam, Thank You RAM

The last time I bought RAM (without buying a new computer) was in the good ‘ol days (circa 2000) when it cost about a dollar a megabyte. Those were the days when 64 megabytes meant your computer was SCREAMING fast, but that was also back when having a CD burner meant you were ahead of the technology curve (I was the second person I knew to have one) and it took a day to download an MP3. Times have changed. Wow. I’m an old man.

Sadly, the time has come to do a few minor upgrades to my computer to increase its efficiency. It turns out that despite being both stable and efficient with hard drive space, Ubuntu is a bit of a memory hog, although it doesn’t eat it up like Windows did. I guess 256mb isn’t what it used to be. I blame all this new-fangled technology, consarnit.

From an email Danielle sent yesterday… “Have you noticed that since you started writing about linux, no one comments on your blog?”. Hmm. I did notice a bit of a drop-off, but few of my posts have specifically related to my switch-over, so I think I’m okay. My site stats lead me to believe that I have more regular readers than ever, but talking to a few of my friends who used to be regular readers, it seems that they aren’t coming here with the same frequency as before… so who’s out there? And do you hate Linux?

Taking a cue from Karim, I’m going to start a mini-art project of mixed media pieces using Rasterbated images and painting them. I’m going to try going with realism (painting the original colours of the photo) and with crazy-art-ism (using insane colours instead) to see which looks more awesome.

Speaking of awesome, rumour has it that the newest volume of everyone’s favourite online arts zine, SilentTalkie is one short month from relaunch. That means we’ll be hassling people for content shortly. You can avoid that by submitting beforehand if you’d like. Just send me an article by email and I’ll praise and laud you in here. How awesome would THAT be?


Connect the Dots, La La Lala

It’s amazing how little information your eyes need to convert raw information into something useful. A flash of colour, a blurry shape… and your eye can detect context to give shape to an object. Pretty cool stuff.

That’s basically the idea behind rasterized images (which is how we look at ALL pictures on computers and printed out from them), but you can take it one step further and make it into art. Like in pointillism, these dots can be used to trick your eye in a much more overt manner… so you can see that you’re being tricked.

That’s what makes the Rasterbator such a cool (FREE) tool. Basically, you upload a photo like this…

… crop it, choose the number of pages you’d like it print on (the more you use, the bigger the image… and the more work you have cutting) and Rasterbator automatically creates a PDF document of your image on multiple pages for print… all in spaced-out dots.

That image is 5×3 letter sheets printed, and is presently gracing the living room wall above my piano. The further back you stand, the less ‘dotty’ it looks.

Cutting out all the page trim is A LOT of work, and taping the sheets so they line up ‘just so’ is no picnic either, but the end product really comes together. When you start with your original PDF (here’s mine), you don’t believe that it’ll be a recognizable image, but once it’s together, you’re in disbelief. Give it a try!

In case you’re wondering how I find this stuff, I was checking Andrew‘s links and came across Apartment Therapy which had written a post on it. Voila!

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