Seagery Zine Issue 2: Closing the Distance

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Seagery Zine Issue 2

Closing The Distance

editor’s note I have terrible eyesight. I often squint at faraway buses and worry that I've upset the driver with my scrunched-up face as they near. Without my contact lenses, the world looks very different. If I happen to be without them (or my glasses), I have to get very close in order to see with some shred of clarity. This movement has been a good friend to my curiosity. I'm grateful for devices and techniques that allow us to study the tiny and distant. With microscopes, we can admire the resilience of creatures smaller than a grain of salt. And telescopes and radar allow us to image and examine faraway planets. But there are three kinds of distance I wanted to think about for this zine: physical (or spatial), temporal, and emotional. Technology is working on closing the first kind in many ways. Time and our spectra of emotion are harder to navigate. We could sit next to each other worlds apart. Or, as in Thomas Mann’s Death In Venice (translated by Michael Henry Heim), my literary reference for this issue, there can be so much felt and not a word exchanged. In it, the protagonist becomes infatuated with a young boy, but never gets too close. And so obsession, admiration, ignorance, concern, shame, fear, and even death transpire in silence. As you peruse Closing The Distance, consider the struggle that keeps company with curiosity, and relish these moments of utter triumph. These contributors have gone the distance and their works are the glories of this zine. Within are also two interviews with people I fiercely admire for their imagination and commitment. One makes portable bioluminescence, the other makes miniature planets, and both leave me starstruck. Gravity is at work here. Let it pull you closer. KVW



Recuperating If I need to write you a love poem, I’ll smoulder puffy kisses along the rain, summoning thunders to carry your airbrushed tears, watching silhouettes hanging by the polka-dot edges. As peaches of elixir approaches – bold and vicious, they should be teasing wintry leaves, like any patriarch’s soul in the afterlife. Next, the acrylic motion picture should to offer me a wrecking glass with a mermaid’s soliloquy – made of electrocuted yeast and cinnamon, before the feminine in me was born to embower rooting scars, I spend the following sixty-nine days inviting orgasmic remains, just in case we’ve forgotten the reason for the merge of DNA, to cure love and temptation keeping nakedness under control, then consume buckets of cherries a day as we dream of molecules going astray, seeking hearts within the labyrinth like a sentimental circus.


After The Poetry Room your spoken words of cinematic and dreamlike, bricks and sweats etching linguistic arteries, unsettled minds in florescence, walking the rugged stairs not yet fully recovered. morbid street lights unfurling silhouettes, you said morning shift begins at five ends at two, exchanging oblivion grieves; your foreign ancestry, I listened with heart soaks in milk and honey, forgotten to reveal my first kiss with a blonde kid on the plane to Wellington; untamed curly hair and eyes inherited from my Siamese great-grandmother; that brush of death with a black cobra when I was four. but I will remember – your voice of that first hello; that exclamation on Vancouver maple leaves; impromptu Expressway speed; and life (constantly) on eggshells. now – if I were to align us to that night where it all begins, like an ocean unreturned, your tranquillity affirmed the reverie of closure, I’d learned that one man’s loss is another man’s reward.





paige whitehead and the nyoka light wand interview by KVW images courtesy of Paige Whitehead

We’re all aware of the plastic plague. There’s no denying, ignoring or escaping it. Be it on land or in the ocean, synthetic plastics are unable to join the natural life cycle, poisoning the area instead of feeding it, and their various molecular makeups make them problematic for disposal and degradation. To effect change for the betterment of our earth and marine life, certain products have been placed under scrutiny and adapted for sustainability. Bottles, grocery bags, straws, and cigarette butts have been among our targets so far. But the list goes on. Paige Whitehead, the founder and CEO of Nyoka and a student at the University of Victoria, saw a problem with glow sticks at music festivals and developed a novel Light Wand that is compostable, carbon-sequestering, non-toxic, and powered by bioluminescence. Its tube is made from compostable algae, the cap is reusable, its glow is created by a reaction between water and bioreactor-produced protein (luciferin) and enzyme (luciferase) tablets, and its bottom plug is made of biochar, which improves the soil in the area in which a wand may happen to land. Bibbidi bobbidi boo?

Your story with Nyoka started at the Shambhala music festival, where the ground became peppered with glow sticks. What kept you motivated to make sure the Nyoka Light Wand came into existence? Shambhala music festival literally changed my life; festivals like Shambhala encourage and provide a container for great personal transformation. I used to be so full of anxiety about what other people thought of me I neglected to care about how I thought of me. At Shambhala you are surrounded by so many people who just dont. give. a. f**k. about all the stupid crap we are supposed to care about - it's a massively healing experience that I’m still working to integrate into my own life. I can finally say though that I am pretty happy with the kind of person I’m turning into and that is an accomplishment that I have Shambhala to thank for. Not to mention how ridiculously fun it is to camp out for a week, listen to the best music on the best sound system with the craziest weirdos you’ve ever seen.. and you just dance all night long. If you have never been just ... what are you doing. Get out there! This experience motivated me to give back to the community and to help ensure that music festivals themselves can also be transformed into something that is not just healing for people, but healing for the planet as well. In the face of climate change, mass extinction, and ever-increasing pollution, we need to transform all of our systems into avenues for healing. Being scared af and angry motivated me for a long time, but it burns me out. I try to focus on being hopeful, and festivals like Shambhala keep the hope alive and are just a blast of pure delicious fun. This past year I worked as part of the Clean Up Crew and spent my mornings at Shambhala digging hundreds of glow sticks out of the dance floor (also found a knitted yoda finger puppet, endless whip-it canisters, and many things I’d rather not mention). Every glow stick I picked up reminded me why I started working on this idea in the first place. It was great to hear from the crew leaders that they have seen a steady decrease in garbage over the 20 years they have been working with the festival.

You’ve created something that rejoins the natural cycle by not only returning to the earth but restoring it, specifically the mycelial network. How have you overcome the challenges associated with this ambitious intent? It will always be a work in progress. As we develop environmental restoration technology, specifically mycorestoration, we can create blends that produce specific effects and target local ecosystem needs. Currently I am working with Fungi Perfecti and their blend of restorative fungal species and microorganisms that are designed for use in the Pacific Northwest. This blend works on a general level, but has not been tested specifically for sites that are used as festival grounds year after year. I would love to work with festivals to develop continuous land-care plans in order to design blends that can help restore their specific environment. For example, the Shambhala festival site borders the Salmo River. If we find a water flow that transports pollutants from the festival to the river we could install a fungal filter area that is designed to degrade pollutants, filter the water, and prevent downstream damage. That said, adding a living component to the wands is something we approach with caution - we would not want to accidentally introduce non-indigenous species to any ecosystem. This is why we are working with festivals on site-specific plans. General-use Light Wands may one day contain a location-based myco-mix, but for now simply contain biochar (more on this later!) which is a ‘soil prebiotic’. Biochar helps soil to retain water and nutrients, and encourages local fungal and microbial species without introducing any foreign life that may not necessarily be helpful.

* I love that the wand’s casing is algae-based. Algae seems to consistently impress with the various ways it’s being used. What drew you to use it for the wand? Algae is awesome!! I was looking into corn-based bioplastics for the casing, as the case needs to be clear to allow light to travel through. It was a huge let down - through my studies I found out that these bioplastics do not degrade naturally in terrestrial or aquatic environments. They require extended high temperatures for chemical degradation, and many recycling facilities are not set up to handle the requirements for biodegradation. So, I needed a better material! I found a few groups working on seaweed-based edible materials designed to replace single use cups, straws, etc. and ended up working with a New-York based company called Loliware. All of their materials and products are termed ‘hypercompostable’ and are certified edible! ‘Compostable’ is actually a much stronger designation than biodegradable. Although the term compostable is not currently controlled legally, it usually means that the materially will naturally degrade in aquatic and terrestrial environments in a short timeframe. This property is essential for the Light Wand to be restorative - it will break down at about the same rate as a spinach leaf and serve as a vector for the restorative probiotics.

* As you’re aware of the reality of products that advertise themselves as biodegradable or compostable (that they need to be heated at high temperatures in order to break down), how do the light wands stay true to their claim? Yes! Green-washing is a real problem and it is my goal with Nyoka to be as transparent as possible about the materials we use. Honestly, I’m kind of happy the term compostable isn’t regulated for now because certification is a notoriously expensive process - we’ve seen many problems with the term ‘organic’ being inaccessible to family farms and small local growers. Right now the term compostable is accessible to everyone, for better or worse. Hopefully people who read our website and learn more about the project will understand why the Light Wand being compostable is so essential to their ultimate function of helping to restore the environment.


What was the process like in creating the protein and luciferin tablets in a bioreactor (controlled environment)? I’ve been able to work with the amazing team at BioToy who have perfected the commercial process for producing vast quantities of luciferase and luciferin without drawing on the fragile marine ecosystem. Some sources of bioluminescence use protein extracted from live marine animals - BioToy uses a bioreactor process that is much more efficient and ensures that rare bioluminescent species and ecosystems are left in their natural state. They have been working on developing this technology for over 20 years, so to partner with them and use their bioluminescent system, which is often used for research purposes, has truly given this project life.


Is bioluminescence limited to that mesmerizing blue or is it possible to develop light wands of different colours? Not at all! That mesmerizing blue is the ‘classic’ marine bioluminescence colour, and the one currently easiest to work with for commercial production as it has been the most characterized. There are many other colours of bioluminescence available that we are excited to work on for the Light Wand.

* It would be amazing to see festivals in the future exclusively vend these light wands. Are different wearable designs in the works? What’s the dream for this product? Wouldn't it?! There are some powerful ‘green festival’ initiatives and rising global consciousness towards living within the bounds of our shared ecosystem. That has been one of the best parts of working on this project - getting to learn about and meet all of the passionate, intense, obsessed people who give their lives to making the world a better place. Living that way definitely requires an outlet, which is why festivals and partying is so healthy. Even with the recent economic downturn and uncertainty, festivals and entertainment is booming. People need a reason to feel alive, connected, and excited about life, even more so when there is so much to fear. I would love to start a Nyoka festival that could introduce attendees to the best and latest environmental tech, permaculture living, and music to let the fear and rage and passion out to. I am also always looking to collaborate on ideas, designs, workshops, etc. because collaboration is where so much fire happens.

* Are you getting close to the light wand’s final design? Very close! Working with these cutting edge bio-design materials is slower going than if we chose to not use fully compostable materials. We are going to start out with small batches and raise some funds via a crowdfunding campaign to continue product development and really build the Nyoka program. Many of these companies we work with are new, just starting out themselves, and the bio-products aren’t as cheap as chemicals and plastics. But that is why it's even more of a worthy effort. I am focusing on developing a product I can truly be proud of, one that is a symbol of the kind of world I want to live in, that is the true Light Wand. Human ingenuity can do great things, and together we can build a better world and society to live in. A compostable, carbon sequestering glow stick that's powered with bioluminescence and healing for the planet - yeah that’s something I can stand behind with my whole being.

Reading your reflections from the BC Tech Summit in May 2018, you wrote that there were some attendees that couldn’t grasp the importance of Earth-healing alternatives. What would you say to start changing their minds? Now, the BC Tech Summit wasn’t all disaster, I loved Youth Innovation Day - thousands of high school students came through and every single one I talked to was pumped on compostable glow sticks that help heal the microbiome as well as the other clean tech initiatives. As for the other people, I try not to worry about them - just avoid as much as possible and work with people who are passionate about creating change rather than upholding the status quo. As painful as it can be to run into these system-maintainers, it is a better use of energy to move on and connect with like-minded people who lift me up and give me life. This is one of the most powerful changes I have made in how I use my energy. Many people who engage in debate around climate change, environmental issues, etc. will not be swayed by your ‘intelligent arguments’, facts, or persuasion - they have a different worldview that has probably been set for years. Honestly this is a question I don’t have a good answer to - to me it is the height of insanity to perpetuate a system that is creating worldwide catastrophe. We’re all stuck on this ride and the few who could turn this thing around aren’t even riding with us. They’re building spaceships to get themselves off this planet. Why we aren’t putting all of our resources into environmental restoration, basic income, and clean tech is beyond me so I do what I can to support those initiatives myself. This is where policy changes give me hope - look at the plastics bans that are coming out. Yeah there is grumbling and whining, but now everyone who lives in Victoria has to use reusable bags, even the people who would never chose to do so for themselves. If it is absolutely necessary to interact with these people, I try my best to treat them with compassion, connect around a shared experience (everyone is human, everyone is scared, everyone is doing the best they can), and see if I can learn something from the experience. Once that is over I RUN and talk to people who get me in order to restore my sanity :) One example I love to bring up is the indigenous peoples of the Amazon (and likely worldwide but it has been studied extensively in the Amazon), had soil tending practices that actually built incredibly rich, biodiverse, productive soils. They transformed their sandy barren land into soil that has earned the nickname ‘Black Gold’ for its incredible properties. Humans did that. The planets ecosystems actually needs our attention and care to work optimally, and we forgot that. Let’s remember again. Healthy, resilient society always starts with their soil, and failed civilizations end with their soil. Soil is also a carbon-sink! If every Light Wand made it back to the soil it contains the necessary soil-boosting ingredients to create this resiliency: water, micronutrients, biochar, and fungal/microspecies. One won’t do much, but thousands will. Supporting Nyoka means that this research is supported, so we can keep designing and growing our program to tackle even bigger problems. I’d also like to shoutout Festie Vibes, Karmik, and Party4Health which are amazing initiatives that support a safe and supportive festival community, and Greener Festivals for their work and research into creating eco-friendly festivals. | @lightbynyoka 19



“there was a depressive mood that saturated the air�


“it’s important to really pay attention to the process of aging, especially in women”



ISL ANDS The boy was afraid that the Englishman was dying. The man lay on the bed ridden with fever under the mosquito netting, waiting wearily for scanty sea winds from the open windows. Yet he still wrote, turning a weak hand to a letter that he drafted in the hot room in the Dutch house above the town. The boy was now almost a young man, the rifle strapped to his back after an afternoon in the jungle. Inside the box he carried were the results of a long hunt: two birds of many colours and the discarded skin of a large snake. He entered the house, where other birds that he had shot awaited the steady hands of youths who carefully separated delicate skin from rotting flesh and bone. The magnificent cendrawasih that the boy shot some weeks ago now lay there stuffed yet empty, beads for eyes staring back, transfixed in false life. He wondered what his newest birds would look like preserved, caught in an eternal flight and unable to die, before their journey to the mail ships that called at the harbour. Upstairs the Englishman still wrote hurriedly, as if afraid that his letter would not make the boat. In the conversations that they shared in a makeshift creole tongue that went back and forth between languages, the Englishman spoke of the history of nature, and how he traced it in the feathers and the shapes of the beaks of the birds that they killed. Strange, how looking at something as subtle as the changing patterns on wings told the Englishman a story many hundreds of thousands of years old, perhaps even more.. Perhaps it was the barrier of languages that kept the boy from understanding what the Englishman was trying to say. The only thing the boy fully understood was that the man needed a hunter. The boy thought of the many-coloured birds and the animals that looked so different once they sailed towards the coast of Lombok, waxing and waning between the broken islands, and how the thrill of the hunt consumed him, the smell of cordite accompanying each fallen carcass. Strange, to think in those bodies the answer to the man’s questions lay, questions that had propelled him from a different world. The Englishman was looking into something far beyond his words could ever translate. But the boy was content to understand the nature of guns, and the remitted money that came in exchange for the cases of birds that they sold. And maybe one day he would understand. Presently they were at the edge of the world. He focused on the words and accents that changed between Santubong and Maluku and Ternate, almost as fascinating as the changing textures of the birds. Between the islands the world shifted so quietly that it was impossible to notice until all traces 29

of himself began to slip away. If he returned he would go home a changed creature. For him, there was no hope of preservation. * In the evening, after taking the letter down to the Kantor at the dock, he told stories of his travels at the market, spinning tall tales of tigers who turned into men and back again for the amazed townspeople. The woman he had seen several times before asked him about the Englishman. He is recovering,​the boy said, unconvinced. Where will you go next? The woman was curious about the stranger and his team of hunters. I don’t know,​he replied. Perhaps you will go home. Home,​he thought, after a while he no longer knew exactly where that was. It was a question that deserved as much care as the specimens in their cases, as if he could answer it by examination under the magnifying lenses that they carried in their padded cases. He could embark on the taxonomy of the islands that he had passed through, wondering if perhaps the birds that he shot would lead him to a tangible destination.





adam makarenko A combination of images and data taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Cassini spacecraft recently showed us Saturn’s aurora (in ultraviolet light). I saw it on my phone, a device I regularly keep in my back pocket.. I was wonderstruck! Today we’re gaping at luminous deep sea creatures, discovering new subatomic particles, and witnessing electrical phenomena on other planets. And there’s so much more out there still unseen and unexplored. Time will tell but in the meantime, we can imagine, and even set some expectations about we might find.


interview by KVW images courtesy of Adam Makarenko

Adam Makarenko is a Toronto-based artist, photographer and filmmaker who makes miniature exoplanets by hand. (Exoplanets orbit stars outside our Solar System.) Through his camera lens, these fist-sized balls (or half-spheres) of painted plaster or styrofoam expand into giant, floating celestial bodies. The titanic appearance of some are owed to Makarenko’s elaborate crafted landscapes — alien crusts upon which our perspective rests as we gaze at his imagined exoplanets. And they have a fair chance of existing within and Why make the exoplanets realistic? If gravity beyond our observable universe.

Before the current exoplanets series, I started a photographic series of miniature-­made space probes (that is still ongoing). I originally began making exoplanets because I needed planetary backdrops for some of the probe scenes that I was creating. After a while, the exoplanet work just took off on its own. Now both series run in tandem with each other.

* Since making space probes led you to make exoplanets, what led you to make space probes in the first place? I’ve been working in miniature since 2006 (Bees & Apiaries). The reason I work in miniature is because it’s natural for me to work with sculptural forms/ work with my hands. There are also no limits to miniature art in terms of subject matter and access to ‘imagined’ locations (as getting access in real life would be a problem). I like that I can manipulate the light, and change things about the set after I make it...versus a painting, or an illustration where things are set out in stone (somewhat) from the start.

* Is it too cheesy to ask if you wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up? I’ve never wanted to be an astronaut. I am not really an athlete, and I think you need to be super fit to be an astronaut. I probably don’t have what it takes, because my anxiety is also too high.

Sphere Probe

It seems your days of making models goes pretty far back. Were you always into the craft? I spent one summer taking pictures of real bees and apiaries, and I really enjoyed that experience, until the winter arrived. All of a sudden I found myself wondering what to do. It was at this point where I decided to make a miniature world of bees and apiaries. This was my first foray into miniature.

wasn’t an issue, would you make a planet that wasn’t spherical? I think that some planets are not quite spherical due to strong gravitational forces (although I would have to confirm this). I prefer the suspension of disbelief.. In other words I like to trick people into thinking that what they are seeing could be real, even if it’s only for a moment. I like the miniature artifice, because it gives the viewer a sense of being transported there even if it’s momentary. I think part of the reason for this is that the lighting is real, and the objects are real.

Where gravity is stronger we might see some different structures (not sure) a super Earth. But I think a lot of planetary systems will be similar to what we see on Earth in many ways. The differences might be part of the unknown ... It’s a hard area to delve into in terms of art, and still keep it believable in some sense.


I made a model of the Trappist system once.. A link here:

Black Probe

Do you create just the surface of the planet or have you thought about what details might exist beyond the big picture? Or have you zoomed out more and figured the planets into systems? I am going to assume that exoplanets, and exomoons will all have similar features to what we know of in our own solar system. In terms of planetary geography and functions of tectonics, erosion, and physics in general these planets will likely have similar features as on Earth ... All one has to do is look at Mars, or any planet ([or] moon) that has been visited by us. They all look familiar. The dark side of your planets can be quite alluring and the 2D format really stirs my curiosity. As a filmmaker, would you ever film them revolving? I’ve tried filming the planets a few times, and it can work, but nothing concrete yet in terms of that. My planets are typically 1⁄2 spheres.

* It’s such an oxymoron to call your planets miniature when I look at your photographs. Your landscapes especially create the illusion that I’m staring at something titanic in the distance. They’re so expansive and elaborate, what goes into perfecting every inch? Does only a portion from a certain angle make it into the final shot? I build everything in layers.. A set is typically only made for one angle that I envision in my mind.. Sometimes it changes.. But because some of the sets and scenarios are all real lighting it’s not easy to manipulate the sets to accommodate several angles.

* Do your exoplanets carry a different weight as miniature sculptures? I mean, after seeing their final photographs, there must be such a switch in perspective if you were to see the live miniature for the first time. And to be able to see it from all angles.. I only make the models for the photograph.. The miniature is real so I think it has a different aesthetic feel compared to CGI ... It’s a real object lit under real illumination. 36

What are you working on with the Keck Observatory? Do you often work with observatories? I am working on a collaborative exoplanet project based on some of the exoplanets the Keck Observatory has been involved with/or discovered. First, I get data from an astronomer (Carlos Alvarez), and he helps guide my images to best match how they might look in real life. We work back and forth fine-tuning images. Right now I am creating one exoplanet per month for them. It’s a great experience, and educational for me as well.

Adam Makarenko

What will you do after you’ve made a thousand exoplanets? I already have another miniature project based on forbidden places ... so I’ll be working on that.

* Have you wondered if future science and technology will describe planets to be exactly like the ones you’ve created? Yes. The chances of that are high. The probability is very likely. If you imagine that each star has at least one planet (but probably a lot more).

Volcanic Moon

Have you found some answers to life’s biggest questions yet? Making all these planets has taught me that we are very insignificant in the grand scheme of things (but obviously not as human beings towards each other), and that we need to protect our oasis: the Earth. We need to look at ourselves as custodians of the planet, so that human beings, and all animals can continue to prosper long after we are gone.. Time and space [are] really hard to grasp, especially when you look at the great distances between everything in space. Our minds are very finite, and that gets in the way of looking ahead, and looking out for the continuation of life in general. We have to think beyond ourselves in terms of time. | @adamgdog





evolutionary linguistics i con gai. moulted remains of the serpent-sin tattoo efface palimpsest posthumous my karma signature—i am Thorn. no longer his rib girl, i genesis-splice adam-rib hernia. shrapnel-diaspora my dissected birthname.

ii emancipate & protrude resilience. i impale my past life, a subservient osteology. xác chết— my corpse resonates samsara. regeneration of the bắc việt. ancestral-branches migrate across my estuary-veins like a lichtenburg scar. iii the drowned. the amniotic. the lotus awakens its petals, a việt-eden incubator resuscitates my submerged soul. years since exhalation. hernia-liberate neonatal stasis-prison tôi là Thorn, third generation of the mekong delta reborn beneath tết-moon.




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Seagery Zine Issue 2: Closing The Distance September 2018 Compilation, design + editing by KVW Front cover: EXP196B2 by Adam Makarenko

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Printed by East Van Graphics


All text and images may be subject to copyright by the individuals credited here.



Katelyn Wallach, @liteghost

“Down The Rabbit Hole” - Graphic Design, “Holes In Our Safety Net” - Pencil on Paper

Ali Massie, @alimassie Photography

Deborah Wong, @petitedeborah

“Recuperating”, “After The Poetry Room” - Poetry

Deuphine Apedaile, @the.dirtbag.princess


Interview: Paige Whitehead Founder and CEO of Nyoka

Ellen Hall, @percephonie Illustration

Henrieta Lau, @henritata “Two Shapes” - Illustration

Cleomë Wilkinson, @_scumcat “Think Ill” - Illustration

Julia Wong, @juuliawong

From “Scars” series - Photography

Jean Wong, @jeanwongjy

“Will Your System Be Alright”, “I Was Brought But I Was Kind”, “Pay My Respects to Grace And Virtue” - Ink on paper

William Tham, @thamwailiang “Islands” - Fiction

Roxie Zagar, @coinsmell Comic

Kodai Yanagawa, @kodonkadonk 3D

Katrina Vera Wong, @furiebeckite

“Frankenflora quies” - Sculpture with microscopic image overlay

Interview: Adam Makarenko Artist, Photographer, Filmmaker

Julia Wong, @juuliawong

From “Decay” series - Photography

Winston Le, @winstonladdle “evolutionary linguistics” - Poetry

Raymond Nakamura, @raymondsbrain “Protest” - Cartoon

Silas Egan, @silasegan

Still from film Ape Ya - Chemicals on plexiglass

Jordan Gray, @the.jorts “Merge” - Illustration

Char Hoyt, @chardotcalm

“I/Cell Study: Soulmates” - Painting