Incite Magazine VOLUME 14, ISSUE 6 · MCMASTER UNIVERSITY, HAMILTON ▪ SUMMER 2012
INSIDE: Nine Pages of Art by Incite’s Finest FEATURING: The Work of the McMaster Poetry Club plus The Arts of Karate, Clubbing, and Coolness
EDITORIAL CASTING A CITY FROM STEEL Sam Colbert, Editor-in-Chief
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grew up in East Hamilton. When I was in first grade, half the dads of the kids in my class worked at either Dofasco or Stelco, the city’s two major steel production plants. The steel companies, which took root here in the 1910s, had already come to define Hamilton. The industry was the city’s largest employer, so even other businesses – my family’s local video rental place, Steel City Video, included – were happy to embrace the reputation Hamilton had gained as a result. But major staffing reductions came to Stelco and Dofasco in the ‘90s and 2000s. The former was pulled back from the ledge with a purchase from U.S. Steel, though that didn’t prevent an 11-month lockout of its workers. Global steel company ArcelorMittal bought the latter. As a result, Hamilton was facing a crisis of identity. If we weren’t the Steel City, then what would we be? From a jobs perspective, healthcare took the top spot among industries. But others had a new metric. Tshirts started appearing in the galleries of James Street North. They read, “Art is the New Steel.” Out-of-work steel workers were not, of course, picking up paint palettes and heading downtown. They scattered, finding work in other industries. Art had little to do with it. But for many McMaster students, who generally felt far removed from what was going on in the industrial part of town, it was in the galleries downtown where they were finding some connection to this city. Art is the theme of Incite’s summer issue. Our contributors, it turns out, are a talented bunch. But as you flip through this magazine, and maybe as you head down to the next Art Crawl, we ask that you take what you see in context. Be it a state of mind or a city, let good art include you in something beyond the medium. -SC
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Brief New World Shawn Fazel
Incite Magazine is published six times per academic year by Impact Youth Publications, founded in 1997. Entire contents copyright 2011-2012 Impact Youth Publications. Opinons expressed in Incite Magazine are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Incite Magazine’s staff or Impact Youth Publications. Letters of up to 300 words may be sent to incite@mcmaster. ca; they may be edited for length and clarity and will not be printed unless a name, address, and daytime phone are provided.
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Featured Artist Emily Johnson The Cool Gene Adaptation of an Attitude Sheiry Dhillon Featured Artists Maus C, Alicia Giansante, Sonia Stouth, Ianitza Vassileva Read Between the Signs Large-scale installations Charlotte Mussells, Katija Bonin, Kaila Radan Confessions of a Hipster From the pages of a Moleskine Stephanie Wan Featured Poetry David Laing, Kacper Niburski, Meg Peters The Sound of Pop Art A cultural movement Matt Watt Featured Artists Clarke Cole, Natalie Jachyra, Livia Tsang Featured Poetry Aaron Grierson, Nick Kellner, Karen Lamb, Adam Nightingale, Samantha Sargent, Jing Xu The Meat Creatures The story of humanity Steve Clare Artist’s Wine and Cheese A comic strip Sam Godfrey From the Bottom of My Mind A Synesthete’s Heart Mayuri Deshmukh Moto Madness Traffic in Southeast Asia Chris Hilbrecht Where is the Art in Martial Arts? Expression through self-defense Sandra Duffey Fractals Beauty in repetition Nigel Pynn-Coates Thank God for the Geniuses Finding inspiration Dylan Euteneier Universal Languages How art transcends culture Asha Behdinan Clubbin’ Review of Hamilton hotspots Cameron Amini, Jane van Koeverden Useless Beauty The value of art Devra Charney, Anthony D’Ambrosio, Julia Redmond
Editors-in-Chief Sam Colbert Anna Kulikov Managing Editors Irena Papst, Layout Ianitza Vassileva, Graphics Content Editors Jeremy Henderson Matt Ing Kate Sinclair Jane van Koeverden Contributors Cameron Amini, Asha Behdinan, Katija Bonin, Maus C, Joanna Chan, Devra Charney, Steve Clare, Clarke Cole, Anthony D’Ambrosio, Mayuri Deshmukh, Sheiry Dhillon, Sandra Duffey, Dylan Euteneier, Shawn Fazel, Alicia Giansante, Sam Godfrey, Aaron Grierson, Chris Hilbrecht, Natalie Jachyra, Emily Johnson, Nick Kellner, David Laing, Avery Lam, Karen Lamb, Tenya Mastoras, Charlotte Mussells, Kacper Niburski, Adam Nightingale, Meg Peters, Nigel Pynn-Coates, Kaila Radan, Julia Redmond, Samantha Sargent, Sonia Stouth, Ariel Strasser, Livia Tsang, Nicki Varkevisser, Stephanie Wan, Karen Wang, Matt Watt, Jing Xu Front Cover Alicia Giansante Back Cover Sonia Stouth & Rachel Weisner Printing Underground Media & Design Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Incite Magazine
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THE COOL GENE Sheiry Dhillon
he social hierarchy of cool: more than a decade later and I still recall discovering my place on the bottom rung of the ladder. I was seven years old, and Momma Dhillon still handpicked my daily outfit. This particular morning, she decided on a vintage Barbie-esque ensemble with Indian embroidery and a bow in my hair (think Ugly Betty meets Bollywood fashion disaster). After strutting my stuff through the classroom corridor, my best friend took one glance at me and wouldn’t meet my gaze for the rest of the day. I was officially too un-cool for school and had zero friends to prove it. The way I see it, cruelty — I mean, coolness – is a form of popular art. Cool people express themselves (whether through words, clothing, accessories, etc.) in a way that is unique but also socially acceptable by those surrounding them – not an easy feat. Although I am no longer seven and (thankfully) my mother no longer dresses me, I have to admit that I’ve never quite mastered the art of fashion; instead, I’ve resorted to exploring the cool culture using a scientific brush on a biological canvas. Too school for cool, if you ask me. On some level, I’d like to think Richard Dawkins did the same in his game-changing novel, The Selfish Gene, in which he explores human behaviour through the lens of evolutionary gene-theory. Dawkins claims that a meme, an “idea, behavior or style… spread[s] from person to person within a culture,” much like a gene that must “selfreplicate, mutate, and evolve” in accordance to external pressures. Sure, Dawkins wasn’t exactly referring to ‘cool’ concepts,
but doesn’t his theory apply to coolness anyway? A notion or idea that is considered cool pervades society in a meme-like fashion, hopping from one individual to the next until it is popularly accepted. So, if something that is cool is memeish, and meme theory is derived from a gene, and genes evolve through the reproductive process, what exactly is the mechanism by which coolness is transmitted? Or better yet, what is the source of cool? According to Malcolm Gladwell, a selfproclaimed ‘cool hunter,’ cool doesn’t have an origin. Gladwell argues that for something to be cool it needs to be facilitated into the cool cycle, and in order to do this, it needs a catalyst. Michael Jordan lowered the activation energy for Pumps to take off, Bill Gates increased the reaction rate for tackling global health issues, and the cool kid in your class made the popped collar chemically favourable. Like it or not, cool is a positive feedback loop, and unless you are facilitated into the cycle, you’re left stranded on the outside. So maybe we need to reframe the definition of cool and revisit my initial point of artistic expression. Art comes in a variety of shapes, forms, and sizes. Maybe coolness needs to, too. Perhaps it’s cool to explore coolness through biology or maybe it’s cool to wear indo-western get-ups to school. We should have no one definition, cycle, or evolutionary selection by which people and ideas are deemed cool. All I’m saying is that we should give the seven-year-old Sheirys out there a shot and let our definition of cool undergo a mutation into something more open and less exclusive.
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READ BETWEEN THE SIGNS
Katija Bonin, Charlotte Mussells & Kaila Radan
cross the world, large-scale art installations are nestled in some of the biggest and busiest cities. These works of creativity are concealed among tall buildings, city noises and bustling people. Although they are often overlooked, they create an atmosphere. We put art in our homes to make them cozier and to express ourselves. Our cities too are our homes, and, though you may not notice it, they too are painted over, scribbled on, and embellished upon by local artists. On Locke Street in Hamilton, for example, artist Simon Frank has embedded motivational words into the sidewalk. He calls it ‘concrete poetry’. The words alter way you experience the street. Reading things like “a deep breath,” and “to walk the streets / of this city / is to love it,” flowing together to create a poem that seems out of step with the surrounding shops: Chuck’s Burger Bar and Locke Street Bagel among other delicious but unromantic venues. The artist’s intention was to engage people and guide them towards an interactive experience with downtown Hamilton. The art gives people the opportunity to connect with the city in a way that would otherwise not be possible. On Wellington Street, Toronto, there is a large herd of cattle. The bronze, life-
sized sculptures have been grazing there since 1985 and are a reminder of the calm country atmosphere. This man-made pasture is located in Toronto’s financial district and is, incidentally, a convenient spot for taking a break from the “herd” to appreciate a moment of quiet solitude. It also reminds Torontonians that there is more to life than their busy schedules. The cattle are a visual reminder of the importance of private moments of reflection. Large-scale art installations are not always appreciated. London, Ontario for example, has been widely scrutinized for its controversial exhibit of metal trees. The 30 sculptures that have so far been planted cost a whopping $6,000 apiece and are a source of displeasure for many of the city’s citizens. Some people feel the sculptures extremely ugly and would rather see the money spent on real trees. The trees were originally planted in order to visually define London as “the forest city”, as well as to unite its people under a town theme. So far, it is difficult to determine whether these goals have been met, but nonetheless, the city council intends to construct 50 more of the disputed metal statues. Street art is not just limited to Ontario; it is present all over the world. In Meadville, Pennsylvania, for example, old state signs have been transformed into
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visually stimulating creations. Created by art majors from nearby Allegheny College, the students take everyday traffic signs and turn them into unique works of art. Towing area, one way, speed limit, and stop signs are bent, cut, and shaped into artistic murals that span the length of city streets. It’s ironic that these beautiful sculptures are placed where their starting materials came from, but by human manipulation carry a different meaning. No longer are they meant to direct traffic. Rather, they are designed to lead people to appreciate beauty in the mundane. Outdoor art installations provide people with an escape from everyday life. They allow us to interact with our environments, drawing us away from our self-absorptions. Art also brings people together and can often stimulate local discussion or even controversy. Although the exhibits can sometimes be expensive, their contributions to people’s lives are unique and thought-provoking. As Simon Frank says, outdoor art “does not function as just a decorative sculpture, installed in public space. Instead, it works to activate the entire site by directly engaging people and … inviting them to become participants in the work, rather than simply viewers.” In effect, art encourages people to “read between the signs” and find beauty in unexpected places.
CONFESSIONS OF A HIPSTER Stephanie Wan
ear Moleskine diary, I met a boy at Clem’s Used Bookstore today, but he wasn’t just any boy. The guy had the face of James Franco and the RayBans of Woody Allen. Not to mention, he was wearing a Pixies band-tee tucked effortlessly into a pair of beige skinnies. With one hand wedged idly in a pocket and the other clutching a whole-wheat burrito, it was as if he was sent down from hipster heaven. He lowered his burrito, and I put down my Kafka book, the universal body language for “hey girl/guy, I’m interested in you. Our love is so unique, they make quirky indie movies about us starring Zooey Deschanel.” We gravitated towards each other in the philosophy section of the old bookstore, following our shared scent of fair trade coffee and weed. My heart pounded harder and harder, but I kept my outer cool. Finally, I met him in the Camus and Chomsky aisle. We exchanged witty banter, marveled at each other’s perspectives on existentialism, cat ownership, and geometric art. And, just when I thought he couldn’t be any more perfect, he surprised me again. Glancing down at his burrito, I realized…it was vegetarian. I was infatuated. Outside the bookstore, we exchanged tumblr accounts. But we weren’t ready to part… the attraction was just too strong. Our relationship moved pretty fast from there. First base: I browsed through his iPod to check out his list of artists. Mellow acoustic songs, check. Absence of Bon Iver Covers, check. Beats by no-name DJs who-will-be-famous-but-don’t-know-it-yet, check. Second base: political philosophy. Left-wing? Check. Third base: his profession. Art, photography, and fashion are his real passions, but for now his real job consists of cashing cheques for the elderly at TD Bank. Double check. Struggling artists are exactly my type.
ARTWORK BY NATALIE JACHYRA
Spending the afternoon together was a wonderful experience. Feeling more relaxed, I whipped out my fisheye camera, while he pulled out a beanie from his secondhand leather backpack. We found a brick wall, posed in front of it, added a sepia hue, and then posted it on our tumblrs. We had dinner at a beautiful farmer’s market outside of this tiny art gallery, and he affectionately teased me for liking Of Montreal more than the Morning Benders. The art gallery was a sight for sore eyes. We stood in front of large canvases, nodding our heads in mutual understanding of the profoundness of it all. He would say, “It’s about wallowing in a sea of injustices” and then I would nod in agreement, silently amazed at how great minds think alike. We gushed about how Helvetica is the best font to use, and then sat for hours in a park, playing his guitar and singing songs. As people walked by, they shot us looks as if to say: “Homeless? No. Hipsters.” It didn’t matter. We were in love. Sure, we had some fundamental disagreements about which Arcade Fire album was best (Neon Bible, obviously). But that afternoon, I lived – we lived the Urban Outfitters Dream. And life was good.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEMBAZURU (FLICKR) Volume 14, Issue 5 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 11
I want you like a Beatles song Meg Peters I want you like a Beatles song, So heavy that the bed breaks and my heart It hurts from the effort I put Into this wanting, this want of you. I want you like the tide wants the shore Sure I could wait for you to notice Like the wave waits twice a day Or I could shout it from the mountain tops For all the world to hear
Mourning Morning David Laing I never know how I can get out of bed, When peacefully dreaming and resting my head On pillows as soft as the clouds in the sky, With blankets that warm like a lid warms an eye.
I could stand, a girl blushing in front of A crowded coffee shop, Like playing the penis game (except it’s your name) Loudly making the elder audience members Jump
The sunlight seeps silently into my room, Throttling bravely the darkness and gloom. This is my favourite time of the day, But somehow it always gets stolen away.
Because they don’t understand this want This adolescent obsession that makes my heart Break Again and again at the thought Of your bones with another’s (that is another not me)
I wrench myself out of my beautiful slumber To run in futility chasing a number; The jaws of survival are snapping behind me, And everyone everywhere always reminds me:
And I could pretend it didn’t matter Laugh, Bringing my head back in a casual manner Denying the burning want inside my breast But I confess: Any such lie would pale when compared to how much I want you. I want you like the fire wants burning Like the stew wants stirring Like the withered plant on my window sill wants rain. I want you like gravity wants mass Like the moment that’s passed Like the American dream I want you so bad I could write you into a pop song Have the lyrics repeat Repeated every few minutes I want want want you Remix Dubstep it and play it in every club Except maybe then you’d hear it.
I’m doing it wrong and I’m wasting my time; I’m looking around and forgetting to climb. Rest when they tell you and get back to work, Or someday you’ll pay for the chores that you shirk. And so every night as I wait in my doubt, I feel only stress and I can’t work things out. Instead of just fighting my way through my dread, I find that I often just go back to bed.
This Poem Is Their Child David Laing Sometimes all I can write is nonsense, Because I’m usually just writing to clear my conscience, And my conscience is joined with my id in a sort of mental marriage, So if this comes out awful, I guess it’s a miscarriage. It’s never been a very happy affair, Because no matter how hard I try to be debonair, My conscience is a prude, Which I suppose must be why my poems don’t usually turn out this rude.
I’ll probably never find a routine that fits like a glove, Because I can never tell when my conscience and my instinct are about to make love. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it gets pretty wild, But they’re a bit strange to begin with, so it’s no surprise to me that this poem is their child. 12 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ Summer 2012
ARTWORK BY TENYA MASTORAS
Untitled Kacper Niburski On the day I meet God, I’d have to tell him I’m sorry. He’d welcome me into heaven with open arms and I’d react with closed ears and tell him I’m sorry. I’m sorry for never remembering my sister’s birthday, for never dialing my grandmother’s number, for never holding doors when it is raining. I am gonna’ have to look him in the eyes while he sits on his throne, Jesus on his right, Mary on his left, and me in the middle, and I am gonna’ have to stare straight into those blue, green, brown eyes and tell him I am sorry. Sorry for peeing in Lake Ontario in grade three. I swear it was only a little. Okay, I’m sorry for lying about that too. I’d tell him I’m sorry for so much shit I can’t even count, but I’d try. I’d get right up there on that throne, a pauper among princes, and say, I’m sorry, God. I am sorry my dad never got to send me to Harvard, sorry he had to suffer watching his best friend die at the cost of 18 dollars, sorry my mother never got to be a doctor, sorry that families aren’t always the best means for staying together. I’d tell him I am sorry, that bankruptcy has a taste like ink, that welfare cheques only take you as far as the paper trail goes, sorry for the drugs that get injected into veins as if they could get so high they could catch your hand and say help, God, sorry for those same violin strings which are cut as if they could close the red sea so that they could curse your name, God, sorry that the holy men on the street asking for change are the only ones who say they can see you, God, I am sorry, that the homeless have no home, that poverty has hit home, that homes get destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and alcohol, that love is spelled in lost clothes but rape is spelled in ripped ones, sorry that education goes to the highest bidder, that illiteracy reads only race, that all men are not born equal, that diseases win, that villains win and sorry the whole world has gone to hell. We’d meet eyes and I’d say, I’m sorry for being an atheist. And I’d glare, right into his eyes, mine filled with tears, falling as if they were people jumping out of buildings, not understanding heaven is above them, and he’d stare back, like a plane taking off and my towering eyes were twins, and he’d smile, as if smoke and ash washes away, and he’d say, “Welcome to heaven my, son.” And I’d look around, from cloud to cloud, from throne and angel to each bar in the golden gate that trapped us, and I’d count, each tear that fell down like rain to earth for a better day and ask, “Then why am I crying?”
ARTWORK BY TENYA MASTORAS
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THE SOUND OF POP ART Matt Watt
n the 1960s, pop artists explored the cultural value of mass media. They asked, could it transcend its original purpose and have relevance for highminded individuals? Pop art embraced popular iconography and consumer culture, and it challenged the distinctions between high and low art. But what of popular music? 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields was a three-volume concept album released in 1999 featuring (you guessed it) 69 songs about love. It is composed of highly intelligent yet mostly singleserving pop numbers covering almost every style, theme, and subject imag-
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inable. But as singer/songwriter Stephen Merritt told The Independent in a 2000 interview, “69 Love Songs is not remotely an album about love. It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.” It is this reflexivity that gives it substance as both a work of commercial value and a work of cultural value for the art community. There is nothing else out there that manages to capture pop music’s self-absorption, gratuitous sentimentality, or obsession with desire as effectively and comprehensively as this album. It blurs the lines between snide parody and earnest homage, as if to say that the difference between high and low culture is arbitrary. Like pop art’s exploration of iconography, 69 Love Songs is obsessed with the touchstones of pop music. “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off” could be mistaken for the silliest song Johnny Cash ever released; “When My Boy Walks Down The Street” gives you an idea of what The Jesus and Mary Chain might be like if their guitars didn’t sound like table-saws; “Very Funny” embraces the cheesiness of Disney-esque musicals with heart-wrenching results; “Punk Love” and “Love Is Like Jazz” are both hilarious caricatures of their genres; “Yeah, Oh Yeah” is like Sonny and Cher exchanging homicidal verses over a Velvet Undergroundinspired drone. This list goes on, but it is important to understand that these are more than just references to the unique identifiers of each musician’s work. It is an attempt to capture the value and pleasure inherent in each piece to which the
album pays tribute. And that is really where the lasting appeal of this album comes from. Inasmuch as pop art embraced the consumer culture in which it was created, 69 Love Songs embraces the collective output of the music industry post-WWII; it shows the seemingly endless possibilities of three-minute, three-chord, verse/chorus/ verse songs about love. Rather than create an overly cynical, ironic caricature of pop music’s easiest targets, Merritt looks deeper to find exactly which sentiments make the listener tick. In its spelunking of genre and history, 69 Love Songs picks out the details that matter to the average listener – the emotions, the nostalgia, the desires articulated – and blows them up into compositions often absurd or grandiose enough to be both hilarious and affecting. Despite their self-awareness, The Magnetic Fields are never condescending to the genre; the album wouldn’t exist if they didn’t love the source material. It does, however, offer a fair bit of added value for the knowledgeable listener. In addition to numerous references to pop music’s diverse history is an ongoing dialog about the nature of the production and consumption of popular music, as well as its value historically. In “The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure,” Merritt sings about the inability of the titular character, a famous linguist and pioneer of semiotics, to comprehend love. After having the audacity to rhyme his name with closure, so sure, bulldozer, composer, composure, kosher, and Holland-Dozier-Holland (prolific Motown songwriters), he murders him. In a way, this song intellectualizes the sentimentality of mass culture. It asks to the art community to consider the cultural relevance of a Motown lyric, for example, in the same way it might be asked to consider the cultural relevance of a Coca-Cola logo or a Campbell’s Soup can. In “A Pretty Girl Is Like...,” Merritt sums up the value of even the most rudimentary forms of music: “A melody is like a pretty girl / Who cares if it’s the dumbest in the world / It’s all about the way that it unfurls.”
BRIEF NEW WORLD SPARE CHANGE Shawn Fazel, Columnist
s a Québécois man living and studying in Ontario, I cannot sit at the sidelines while a fervent nationalism grows among the French youth of Quebec. The student protests in the name of “educational accessibility” and “Québécois values” are irresponsible and short-sighted. Firstly, for a student leader not to immediately denounce violent demonstrations is unforgivable. To enable violence is essentially hate-speech; it is fundamentally against our Lockean political tradition. The absurdity continues with the smoke bombs in the Montreal metro – since when do we terrorise our own people? To resort to such barbaric measures is a sign of desperation, insecurity, and absolute incompetence. Now, the schools that have closed their doors due to violent protests have received an injunction to open by students willing to finish classes. Unfortunately, schools have violated the injunction, again due to protests outside. From an economic perspective, somebody has to pay for postsecondary education, whether it is the students or their taxpayer parents. But the protesters want free education without northern Quebec oil exploration; like Norway without
Statoil, it’s unimaginable. Students demanding either a lower tuition rate or to maintain the current level are in effect relinquishing their power to change the education system. By not paying their way, they would be bargaining away the moral and economic right to a voice in how their education is shaped.
“To resort to such barbaric measures is a sign of desperation, insecurity, and absolute incompetence.” I was just in Montreal (I was born and raised there). Of the four major universities on the island, only the two French ones are experiencing severe protests (numerous French CEGEPs are similarly plagued). At McGill and Concordia, the Anglophone universities, it is business as usual. It would seem that the protests are driven by French youth fighting for accessibility, the timeworn inferiority complex
that drives Quebec nationalism. In effect, my friends in Montreal are concerned that these protests will evolve into a revival of Quebec nationalism, which nobody wants unearthed. I must admit, however, that the political system of Quebec is also seriously flawed. Montreal’s infrastructure is falling apart: bridges are outdated and overcapacity, and the roads are full of potholes. I left Montreal in 2006, and nothing has changed since. Construction contracts are awarded to the highest bidder (instead of to the best project) and they take twice as long to finish. Cultural resentment still permeates and creates a toxic political environment, especially for new immigrants, who somehow seem to be left out of this debate on educational accessibility. Finally, the protesters seem to believe that in the rest of Canada, despite our higher tuition rates, the students are funded by their rich Anglophone parents. This is not the case: the sacrifices to educate ourselves are not limited to the classroom. We take out loans, pay our own bills, and work jobs for support. We learn to live with others and learn to live with ourselves. It is called growing up; perhaps the protesters aren’t ready for that yet. Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 15
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Livia Tsang Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 17
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Words Will Set You Free Nick Kellner They say the last thing the Jews carried with them that escaped the fire were thousands of letters and postcards scrawled by the fading light between the bars on the long last train ride. The final touch of pen to paper.
Plotlines Samantha Sargent I am the beginning, you are the end. We exist between the same covers but you cannot touch me out of fear and I am suffocated by your existence that steals oxygen and warmth, while you rise and fall in action as you rush through tomorrows until finally, shocked at my cold spine, you stop. Because even after everything you are scared to die, I embrace it. It was always a given. – that I would burn brightly for an instant then extinguish. An end is finite. Endings bring countries to their knees, they come with small changes and end in destruction, exist for a perfect moment where your lips touch mine, and end. But a beginning is fire, an idea, something that lives. Forever. It invades the minds of great men and greater loves even if it never knows their resolutions, never sees your flesh intertwined with someone who loved you. So tell me, is it more precious to know love and an end to things or to understand that there is a story? One that needs to be shouted from rooftops and recorded in the cells of your aorta even if I die and we never really touch. Is it enough, to know that in ways I made you, You complete me and as backwards as it seems,
Brevity of wrist movement as soft and sure as a conductor’s baton flick left flick right Onward Where are you from? Onward What is your age? Left, right, left, right Left, right, left. With hands as big as Rachmaninoff he strangled forth the last few keys as the room filled with smoke and choked his voice in mid-verse. All men are either fire or wood. My radiator hisses I tap the ash from my cigarette. I am reading a story (actually a diary) that finishes before it has a chance to end. The letters fade The rest is written in tears. The earth is so full of Them They fill up the earth. Mass chasms of possibilities that float away into the soot-stained sky. As sunsets bring relief to tired eyes I fear the darkness beyond. Rolled flat and black by the tank track rolling over tattooed wrists rolling over stripped shirts rolling over barbed wire bones darkness rolling over the yellow stars.
A letter set you free. It was the words that worked. Gathered by Polish children at train stations, the piles of paper slipped through iron bars, and I write back to you now in a final touch of pen to paper and say: I remember you You lived. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER (FLICKR)
Somewhere along the way that meant something.
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A glass life can still draw blood after the shatter.
Standing On Twin Peaks Aaron Grierson & Adam Nightingale The owls are not what they seem; The shadow lurks inside their dreams Of rodents who scream, torn apart at the seams, Beneath a subtle light that hauntingly gleams, In the foreground of the whispering trees, Drifting amid the leaves time seasonally frees, And chatter in the breeze with shivering knees. With clenching feet aimed at a target who flees, A swoop, then a screech, and the blood it does freeze; The victim caught up in the briefest of pleas, Swallowed into the abyss without keys, Left locked outside eternity’s gates to freeze, With its gnashing of the knees, rolled all over in disease; Laying vehement, incurable by febreeze, Until from the woodwork, healing magic of the Crees, Summons forth the spirit, hoping a young child sees, Knowing life and death are but flickers in the breeze, Touching whomsoever they do please. Deep life lessons seen the child flees; All the while owls stare, perched atop the trees, Silently in thought, remembering summer’s bees, Whose beauty had silenced the knocking knees, Once dangling nervous from the branch of a tree; And the owls’ shadows lingered, Having found both freedom and key, And went about their business, Eyes glowing from a tree; Finally being what they seem. Semper Custos Karen Lamb They know the vault is quite secure; their treasures will be safe with me. They do not ask, nor I confirm, and yet they trust implicitly. It flatters me, I have to say... I’m glad that they would so believe. And never would I dare betray the faith that they have placed in me. I stand on guard through day and night and watch the treasures gather dust and wonder when they’ll reunite with those who left them in my trust. Ego potest non querela. Sic, semper custos secreta.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIMMEDIA (FLICKR)
Hush Jing Xu Hush, don’t speak. Instead, take my hand and close your eyes. Try focusing on a few of your other senses, the ones to which we pay so little attention but sometimes can reveal to us so much. Listen. Fireworks rumble far across the waters, almost on the opposite shore. The party behind us lives on, voices melded into white noise with an occasional snatch of clarity, here and there. The waves beneath, they swell, crests break on the rocks, water surges and strikes at the wood that holds us above the current, timbers groan and murmur complaints, but hold under our unmoving weight. Breathing – can you hear it? Yours and mine. In, out, in that slow steady rhythm as the air flows into our lungs and rushes back out, made discernible only by the distance, or rather, the lack thereof, between us. Feel. The chill wind sifts through hair, caressing bare, wet skin and penetrating clothing, each eddy and swirl somehow alive. Goosebumps rise, slight shivering. Not entirely due to the cold. The wood grain is rough under our bare feet, and the dock shudders beneath us as the water buffets. Each breath tickles at the delicate skin of lips and tongue. Can you feel it? In, out, steady as the barely discernible pulses under our fingertips. Smell. There’s water beneath and all around us, moisture’s heavy in the air. The wind carries a hint of smoke, of wood and still-warm embers, lingering remembrances of bathing warmth and light. Now, open your eyes, slowly. Look. Fireworks burst to life far in the distance and hazy city lights dot the horizon. The moon above us hangs, that pale bright sickle against the black canvas, accompanied by pinpoints of distant fire. Where the opposite shore ends the black waters melt into the black sky, until the two are inseparable but by time and the inevitable morn. Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 21
THE MEAT CREATURES Stephen Clare “
hey’re starting to figure it out.” “What?” “Look. They’re figuring it all out.”
“Which ones? The gas beings from sector three alpha?” “No, the meat creatures.” “The what?” “The meat creatures. Look. They’re running experiments – they’re starting to figure it out.” “That’s impossible.” “No. Look at these meat creatures. They’re ... terrible.” “Oh, come now. I mean, they’re made of meat, sure, but how bad can it be?” “Look at them! Nasty little buggers, they are. And yeah, they’re made of meat.” “So?” “It’s disgusting! And hardly sanitary.” “Oh, come on, man. There are a hundred and fifty billion galaxies in this universe we have. So what if we have one little planet infested with meat creatures.” “No way. This contest isn’t about creating a ‘Pretty Damn Good Universe.’ We’re trying to make the ‘Most Beautiful Universe.’ And the Most Beautiful Universe sure as hell doesn’t have a bunch of talking meat wandering around. I mean, look. They’re positively barbaric. Four billion years of evolution and they still haven’t figured out how to stop killing each other.” “You seriously want to run the whole process again, just because of these stupid meat
creatures?” “Yes! It’s talking meat! We don’t want that.” “Ugh... fine. Let’s shut it down. What did we set the speed of light to?” “Uh... three times ten to the eight meters per second. That’s meat creature units.” “Okay. Initiating big crunch. Universe collapsing.” “I’m sorry, but it has to be done.” “Well, I suppose if you run an experiment forty thousand times you’re bound to get some anomalies.” “Yeah. These meat creatures are something else, though. Look at that one! Their universe is ending and they’re still arguing about what nutritional substance to intake to extend their pathetic existence.” “Are those two fighting?” “Yeah, that’s what they like to do. They’re filled with this watery stuff, right? And they like to poke holes in each other until all their insides drain out and their meat dries up.” “Ah, how far they’ve come.” “Ha. Right.” “How about those gas beings, though? Aren’t those beautiful?” “Yeah. Shame to see them go. They could never figure out their diplomacy problems, though.” “Well when your body needs a constant source of supercritical mercury gas for energy, travelling internationally does pose a serious problem.”
“They’re damn beautiful, though.” “Indeed. We’re getting close. We almost had it this time. The Most Beautiful Universe.” “What should we try next?” “We’ve got a good thing here. Maybe tinker with the speed of light, increase the gravitational constant a bit, and voila. Another fine universe.” “But no talking meat this time.” “Oh, come on. They’re almost endearing, in their own silly way. Look at how they smush their faces together as a sign of affection.” “Ugh. More like a sign of infection.” “Look, that one just saved another from falling down that cliff! And now – oops, their planet just got hit by an asteroid. I think they’re all dead.” “Good riddance. Are we ready for the next version?” “Sure. I did like the last one, though.” “Dammit, man, do you want to win this thing or not? We need our universe to be flawless. Flawless, I say! We’re making art here!” “I do, I do. I just think you were a bit harsh on the meat.” “Oh for crying out loud ... what am I going to do with you? There is no place in our universe for walking, talking meat. Run it again!” “All right, all right. Commencing experiment number three nine four two one. Entry number 642 in the Beautiful Universe contest. Initiating Big Bang.” “Here we go. This is it.”
ARTWORK BY SWEETIE187 (FLICKR) 22 22 ▪▪ Incite Incite Magazine Magazine ▪▪ Summer Summer 2012 2012
ARTWORK BY SAM GODFREY Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 23
FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY MIND Mayuri Deshmukh
he first thing I saw was a white surface. Instinctively, I reached out and ran my fingers over it, feeling the coarseness as I tried to map out what I’d want to paint on such a beautiful expanse. I could already see colours pouring down onto the canvas, swirling until they crystallized into a work of art. The world was so big, and my canvas was so small. Sitting there in a French cafe, I decided that I wanted to paint something that would capture all my memories of the moment. Casting my eyes about, my gaze settled on a violinist playing a melody fitting of summertime. On their own, my feet carried me towards him. There was just something about his music that sounded so familiar, like it was my life’s
melody. I came to a stop in front of him, just staring at him like Curious George. He must have noticed, because he asked me with a smile, “What should I play for you?” When I didn’t respond, with a simple shrug of the shoulders he started to play another wondrous melody. But my mind wasn’t on the song; it was on what he was doing. With each string that he plucked, an arc of colours slashed through the air, each merrily dancing and then dissolving into nothingness. I couldn’t believe my eyes; how could colour come out of something like a violin? How come I heard sound as colour?
ARTWORK BY MAYURI DESHMUKH 24 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ Summer 2012
To say that I have a pretty wild imagination seemed too far-fetched. Suddenly, the melody changed from a light and airy tune to a cheerful step-to song. The colours that were floating gently in the air suddenly started bobbing around to the beat. I reached out to touch them, but they ran right through my outstretched fingers like smoke. The music stopped abruptly, and noticing my confusion, the old man said, “You have synaesthesia, don’t you?” Shocked, I looked at him, and he smiled. “Oh yes. From the moment you came here, I could tell; you see a myriad of colours, don’t you? Well, if you must know, I am a synesthete myself, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. It helps you to see unworldly colours and hear heavenly sounds that no one will ever experience. Mon ami, we live in another world, a world which comes alive with the joy of music.” Those words rang true in my soul, and I returned to my canvas, my soul filled with enough inspiration to make a thousand memories. For each note he played, my brush sent a fountain of colours splashing down onto the canvas. But all too soon, the song was over. Looking up, I saw that I had painted the true essence of summer: sunflower fields stretching far into the horizon, basking in golden sunbeams that broke through the silver lining of the clouds. Smiling, I sat back to sip my coffee, thinking that if I didn’t have synaesthesia, I would have never been able to see what happiness sounded like. Synaesthesia indisputably sets me apart from everyone else, but I choose to see it in a positive light. It’s a beautiful shade of uniqueness.
MOTO MADNESS Chris Hilbrecht
had heard that traffic in Bangkok was nuts – that the city’s roads were clogged with cars, buses, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, fruit carts, trucks and more – but it was not until I arrived in the city that I could truly appreciate the extent of its madness. Ambling down the sidewalk with a lungful of smog, I was startled as the driver of a Vespa, fed up with the congestion on the road, pulled up onto the sidewalk and zoomed past me, narrowly dodging two food stalls, a stray cat, and several pedestrians along the way. I soon discovered that this was normal. Pedestrians beware: if there are traffic laws or safety regulations in Southeast Asia, they seem to be mere suggestions. Nothing demonstrates this better than the region’s brilliantly inventive, and sometimes insane, use of motorbikes, or “motos” as everyone calls them. In the next two months I traveled throughout Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The roads of each country have a different feel. Swarms of motorbikes reign in Ho Chi Minh City; while the more affluent streets of Bangkok are dominated by cars. While Bangkok’s traffic is a sort of organized chaos in which everyone at least plays by the same crazy rules, in Phnom
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICKI VARKEVISSER
Penh, not even the locals seem to know what is going on. In spite of regional differences, great creativity and a good deal of recklessness can be found on two wheels all over South East Asia. On any given day in Cambodia and Vietnam, a parade of items zip through traffic, precariously balanced on the tiniest motorbikes. A moto will sputter down the street with a dozen chickens – sometimes still living – dangling by their feet off the back of the bike. Three massive dead pigs will follow, lashed to the seat of another. Add a few crates of ducklings and a basket of puppies and you’ll have a whole barnyard rushing along at 50 kilometers an hour. Altogether, “truck” and “50cc scooter” seem to be synonymous terms here. Three or four dozen coconuts will hang off a bike on its way to market. Another driver will somehow manage not to drop the box of watermelons teetering on his handlebars as he weaves around slower vehicles. Sometimes there will be so many things piled onto a bike that it almost disappears under the bulk tied to it. Drivers seem to keep their bikes balanced by determination alone. Most astonishing – and sometimes terrifying – is Southeast Asia’s creative trans-
portation of people. Here, a motorbike is just as much a taxi or family vehicle as it is an individual’s mode of transport. There seems always to be room for another person a little further back on the seat. In Bangkok, I was often impressed by the grace of fashionable girls in skirts and heels who would hop on and off the backs of motos without having to interrupt their cell phone conversations. Very few people wear helmets. In Vietnam, I would often both laugh and cringe at the sight of babies riding motos: in little hammocks tied between the handlebars, on high-chairs between a driver’s legs or perched on another passenger’s shoulders. In Cambodia I came across a fully naked one-year-old standing on the seat in front of the driver, hands on the handle bars, absurdly, it almost looked like the kid was driving and not the parent. Spotting the most outrageous number of people on one bike is something of a traveler’s sport in Southeast Asia. An American professor I met in Cambodia claimed to have once seen eight people artfully balanced on and off the sides of a moto in Phnom Penh. My record was five: a mother, father, older daughter, toddler and baby traveling with ease not far from Angkor Wat. Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 25
WHERE IS THE ART IN MARTIAL ARTS? Sandra Duffey
s someone who has practiced martial arts for sixteen years and taught them for six, I was surprised to find myself scratching my head when I sat down to write about martial arts as an art. In a way, thinking of karate or kung fu as art is very intuitive: one only needs to watch a kata (routine) or see the grace with which two respected opponents deliver or dodge a swift kick to the head to appreciate the aesthetic quality and beauty of martial arts. The same form performed
by twenty people will look like twenty different forms. Twenty different fighters will fight extremely differently, depending on their talents, experience, and personality. Herein lies beauty and creativity. Herein lies art. But does that really make martial arts “art”? Unlike most other accepted art forms, martial arts are not designed to be expressive, creative, communicative, or aesthetic. Generally we don’t decide the merit of a martial art(ist) by how beautiful one’s performance is, nor are schools of martial art created based on what is expressive or aesthetically pleasing. At their core, they are fighting systems based on theories of how the ARTWORK BY ARIEL STRASSER 26 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ Summer 2012
body works and can be manipulated or defeated. They are designed and practiced in order for its adherent to be able to beat other fighters in battle, whether the opponent is real or imagined (such as when executing a pattern). I asked a number of my students and peers “what is the art in martial arts?” I got lots of answers that captured the paradox of martial arts: while it seems artful, it is still a set of fighting sciences. Yet, any martial art student knows, in their gut, that martial art is art. I also asked my senseis this
question; like all good zen teachers do when asked a question they can’t easily explain, they gave me answers that were purposely vague or contradictory, or they answered with another question. Either way, the message was “Figure it out yourself.” So here’s what I’ve come up with: Martial art is the canvas, and the
practitioner is both the artist and the masterpiece. That zen enough for you? The answer is twofold. First, martial art – the art of winning a conflict – is an expression of the self. The way we resolve our conflicts, in the ring, on the battlefield, in life, is an expression of who we are. Martial artists can become skilled not just in delivering maximum damage, but in techniques that can subdue an attacker and de-escalate a situation. Having those tools gives me the choice of whether I want to resolve a conflict in a way that is hurtful or tactful, and I can follow through unafraid. If a guy gets up in my face because I won’t give him my number or let him take me home, I have lots of options for resolving the matter: I could break his nose, ribs, knees, finger, wrist; I could choke him out, or throw him out. I don’t, but having that ability makes it a whole lot easier for me to say, calmly and assertively, “You’re being really disrespectful, and I deserve better than that. Please walk away.” And that’s an expression of me. Martial art is my canvas, and I am the artist. The practice of martial arts is also an experience that brings about emotion. It entails strengthening the body, and requires control over its many functions at once: to do any one technique, a master needs to be able to synchronize the hands, arms, feet, legs, core, breath, and thought. Any reader who has tried to learn the basic techniques in martial arts can probably appreciate how difficult this is. Then everything changes when there’s a person in front of you, who’s also trying to hit you. It can be a mental battle just to get the courage to step into the ring, let alone to keep your focus amidst your fear and excitement. It takes a lot of practice (i.e. a lot of getting hit) to train both your mind and your body to fight with your whole self as one unit. A person who has developed the mental and physical capacity to do that is nothing less than a masterpiece. As I train toward that goal, my body and mind get stronger, and I am able to appreciate the things that they can do. I come to love my self. I am a masterpiece. I am a martial artist.
FRACTALS Nigel Pynn-Coates
ractals are everywhere: galaxies, cloud formations, mountain ranges, river networks, blood vessels, and DNA all exhibit fractal behaviour. Heck, you can even eat fractal broccoli, technically known as Romanesco broccoli. We might wonder why fractals are so prevalent throughout the natural world. In fact, these natural phenomena which seem so incredibly complex can be modelled by relatively simple recursive functions because the defining feature of fractals is their self-similarity (although strictly speaking that is not how they are mathematically defined). An object exhibits self-similarity if zooming in on a particular aspect of it shows the same or a similar pattern as before. In other words, you get no new information about the object’s structure by looking closer. In order to create a fractal structure, then, we only need to have one pattern in our mind and iterate it to get a complex structure. A simple and beautiful example of this is the Koch snowflake. Starting from an equilateral triangle and applying one simple rule again and again, we create a detailed and self-similar snowflake pattern. A recurring theme in science is the
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MELLY’S PHOTOGRAPHY2011 (FLICKR)
elegant efficiency of nature. Fractal structures are useful in nature precisely because a minimal amount of information is needed to create them. Hence, it is the simple elegance of fractals that explains their ubiquity in the world around us. Considering the interesting relationship between nature, science, and art throughout the centuries, it seems only natural that artists would want to harness the powerful tools of fractal mathematics to create art. Even before computers, though, fractal patterns found their way into art. Some works of Jackson Pollack in the 1950s, for example, display fractal-like behaviour two decades before the term “fractal” was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot. Today, most artists who incorporate fractals into their work do so using computers. In fact, Fractal Art has developed as a popular form of digital art and has appeared in many exhibits around the world, from Bilbao to Buenos Aires. Many of these have been put on by the Benoît Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest, which seeks to increase the popularity and recognition of the art form. The development of new art forms,
especially ones made possible through technology, always raises interesting questions about what we consider to be art. Since fractal art is generated exclusively on computers by inputting calculation formulas and taking a snapshot after a certain number of iterations, there are those who would denounce it as non-art. As Kerry Mitchell points out in The Fractal Art Manifesto, there is much more to fractal art than inputting a formula. Although it is true that anyone can use computer software to generate fractal images, it is also true that anyone can pick up a paintbrush and paint something on a canvas. It requires creativity to generate a piece of fractal art, involving expressive use of colour palettes, shading, and other tools of traditional visual art. Fractal art challenges us to re-evaluate what we consider art. It is inspired by the fractals that pervade nature, yet it is often produced digitally. It is at the same time grounded and abstract. It is highly technological, but incorporates tools from traditional visual arts. Fractal art is a unique product of modern society – a hybrid of the natural, the cultural, and the technological. Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 27
THANK GOD FOR THE GENIUSES Dylan Euteneier
hose job is it to understand creativity? Why not give that job to a scientist? I imagine an Albert Einstein lookalike handing me a carefully folded piece of paper with step-by-step instructions for stimulating my own creative juices – a recipe for creative innovation with each step written out in meticulous detail. In my imagination, the prospect is somewhat ridiculous. For some reason I find it silly to think that creativity and inspiration could ever actually take place in my mind. When I look at the world around me, I can’t understand why society has decided that artists are the essence and source of originality. As a society, we put artists on a pedestal and then we are surprised to find that so many of them suffer from isolation and depression. We lead these people to believe that they are unknowable mysteries and then they become shut out from the rest of the world. I’m certainly not the first person to think that the human spirit is much too fragile to deal with the infinite pressure of ‘being an artist’. The artists of ancient Greece and Rome shielded themselves from this 28 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ Summer 2012
ARTWORK BY ALICIA GIANSANTE
pressure. They sought inspiration from the gods in order to create their masterpieces. An artist in ancient Rome was kept company by a disembodied spirit they called a Genius. You and your Genius would work together to remarkable ends. Conversely, when that same artist wasn’t doing his best work, he simply argued that his Genius was just slacking that day. Ancient Greece called these spirits Muses. The Muses were the gods of art and the sources of all inspiration. Artists had to rely on these muses for creative inspiration. Why and how this happened was as much a mystery to these artists as it was to the rest of Greece. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? Aristophanes would sit down to write a play never once worrying about making it breathtakingly perfect. Inspiration, after all, was left to the divine. Thank goodness, for inspiration was much too stressful for someone to seek alone. I’ve written quite a few songs under quite a few names. Most of them never make it beyond my bedroom. One song in particular that I wrote with my brother in 2010 ended up becoming somewhat of a success – eventually, the
single was mentioned on Pitchfork. It wasn’t much but it felt really nice. It was and is probable that it will always be my most successful song. It really bugged me for a while. I spent a few months begrudging it. After I recorded it, I didn’t even listen to it. I realized that a work of art completely defeats you. I can’t even imagine what successful artists must think when they look back at their best albums, novels, or paintings. I’d be waking up to a stiff drink too. This past year a good friend of mine played me the recording for the first time. I wasn’t at all expecting it and I soon found myself thinking, “Oh! This song is good!” I don’t even remember writing a lot of it; it’s like the music just spilled out of me. At first, I didn’t like the result, but in hindsight, I’m glad I released the song, even if I don’t totally understand how the lyrics and melody came to me in the first place. Maybe it was my Muse. My ideas on inspiration and creativity have completely shifted since and it feels really f’ing great. I will continue to show up at my keyboard or guitar and maybe one day my Genius will show up too.
UNIVERSAL LANGUAGES Asha Behdinan
usic has the power to unite individuals of different ages, nationalities, and cultures. But music is only a subdivision of a much larger category: art. And art, in any shape or form, has been proven to be an effective means of communication, transcending both barriers of culture and time. For instance, modern historians frequently use Paleolithic cave drawings and pottery shards to interpret how prehistoric people lived. It is believed by some researchers that these forms of artwork were not only used as a creative outlet, but as a means of communicating stories and documenting events. According to Dr. Timothy Rice, an ethnomusicologist of the University of California, being able to create music with individuals of different cultures allows these individuals to slowly trust you, since they have trust in your musicianship. The level of trust and acceptance you can achieve through creating music, dance, and other forms of art is unmatched by that achieved through everyday language and speech. Therefore, it is evident that communicating through music and other forms of art not only breaks cultural barriers, but allows individuals to forge a very unique bond. Pierre Dulaine, creator of the Dancing Classrooms program, agrees: “Sitting next to each other doesn’t get you to know another person in the classroom. But having danced with one another, somehow, is a different thing.” Typically, when one vacations in a different country, one of the main attractions for cultural enrichment is the local museum. According to psychologists, art is one of the most effective mediums through which a group of individuals can convey their culture and beliefs. For instance, when visiting France, one of the first places tourists wish to see is the Eiffel Tower, an iconic landmark of French culture. Everyone experiences art in different ways, and being part of this experience not only
gives the individual a better appreciation of the art, but also a better understanding of the source culture. Art is a multi-faceted form of expression, and includes dance, music, architecture, visual art, drama, and much more. It is common to all of the cultures and peoples of the world. And art is can
break barriers formed between individuals who do not share the same language or customs. Ultimately, art is one of the most important branches on the culture tree, because communicating through art is one of the ways whereby individuals from different cultural backgrounds can reach a mutual understanding.
ARTWORK BY JOANNA CHAN Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 29
Jane van Koeverden & Cameron Amini TwelvEighty Absinthe: Motown Wednesdays Vibrant is the only word to describe the TwelvEighty (forTrying to convince a friend to go to Motown for the first merly known as Quarters) experience. The music is a blaring time is usually a sure-fire way to sound like a big weirdo. It’s mix of Top 40 – Rihanna and Katy Perry are especially popu- not easy to make a place that only plays music your parents lar – and colourful lights flash in a pleasant seizure-inducing listen to sound attractive to your typical Mac student. But once sort of way. Female members of the crowd are dressed in their you actually get them to Club Absinthe, the place sells itself. tightest, brightest, or shortest, while the male cohort dons The music is so upbeat you feel almost overwhelmingly happy, their fly-est (fliest? Most fly?) American Eagle plaid button-ups. and everything that makes Motown night unique is so charmBy 11 p.m. on Thursing that you don’t even day night, the line have to be drunk to up has gotten ridicuhave a good time. For lous, reaching the one, you’re not surend of the MUSC eatrounded by people making area. Inside, the ing out or dry-humpgrinding only intening. The atmosphere is sifies. Those dancmore suitable to a fun ing alone move left night of dancing with to right, while parta group of friends. The nered patrons grind only reservations I have up and down. One about Motown is that is like a mating call, if you’re looking for a and the other is just wild night, you’re probmating. ably better off going to I’m not one to another club, which is be hating on matwhy Motown is best for ing, but the raw Wednesday nights. sexual energy exuded by TwelvEighty Rokbar frightened me at If you think confirst. Luckily, the vincing a typical clubclub supplies a little goer to go to Motown something I like to is hard, try convincing call liquid courage. a Motown-er to try the Ancient Samurais clubs on Hess Street. paid for bravery Rokbar, along with most with their lives – at other places on Hess, TwevEighty, I used a are rarely well-received twenty-dollar bill. by more alternative Properly juiced, crowds (the type that I join the dance floor go to Motown). But in to begin my mating some ways, these places call, but the intense have appeal Motown ARTWORK BY NATALIE JACHYRA lights and body can’t match. I found my heat make me dizzy, and I head to the women’s bathroom. On first night at Rokbar much more exciting than the one I had at my way, I pass a girl attempting to straddle her male partner Motown, mostly because the music was new and more eneragainst a wall. Nice. getic. Also, the light-up checkered floor makes dancing espeIn the bathroom, I skid across the slippery floor to a toilet cially fun. And sometimes, you might just feel like bringing out stall. The conclusion I come to as I cram myself in a row of girls your less tame and sensible side and trying out the ol’ bump for mirror space: at the bar formerly known as Quarters, pen- and grind. You’ll feel much less out-of-place doing so at a place nies are worth more than your thoughts, they don’t nickel and like Rokbar. So, I think the place deserves some consideration, dime you for drinks, and the customers are loony. especially if you’re looking for something wild and new. - JvK - CA 30 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ Summer 2012
Devra Charney, Anthony D’Ambrosio & Julia Redmond
ll art is quite useless.” Or so claims Oscar Wilde in his controversial preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray. But what exactly does this mean? Taken alone, this phrase might suggest that Wilde didn’t appreciate art. But anyone reading The Picture of Dorian Gray would know that this is far from true. A thing does not have to be useful in order to be appreciated, he suggests. It is possible to enjoy something simply for what it is without needing it to be functional. In today’s science-based society, however, the value of art is often questioned. In comparison with the more objective fields of math and science, art is often pushed aside as a secondary concern. While the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math have practical applications in everyday society, art is generally considered a frivolous pastime. Math and science help progress society in terms of technology, whereas art does not help us move further in the same measurable way. This explains why intellect is often gauged by one’s aptitude in math and science rather than artistic ability. We do, after all, go to art galleries, watch plays, and attend concerts in order to appreciate art and take a break from the rigid practicality of everyday life. Art is therefore thought of as an indulgence rather than a necessary part of societal workings. In times of economic trouble, governments often cut funding for the arts before other sectors. It is therefore evident that society places a greater emphasis on the value of practical, scientific study than it does on artistic contributions. Does this mean, though, that art is not valuable? Does Wilde agree with this societal perception of art? Although he uses the
term “useless,” this does not imply that it has no place in society. While the term admittedly has a negative connotation, Wilde is simply arguing that it does not have practical applications – art has beauty and purpose in and of itself. All art is useless, according to Wilde, and since the only excuse for making useless things is that they should be admired, the only excuse to make art is that it should be admired. If art is admired, though, is it really useless? Wilde says that the purpose of art is only to express beauty, and people should not make anything more out of it. “Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril,” he writes. “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” Rather than being valued for making sweeping comments about the nature of society or life in general, art is appreciated for the benefits it brings to the viewer. In experiencing art, we are given the opportunity for introspection, which is certainly of value. Art also has aesthetic value that can bring pleasure to the viewer. Beauty that can be conveyed through art might not have a practical application, but it is still valuable. In keeping with Wilde’s stance, art is valuable despite the fact that it is useless. Yet one can easily name this article to be a piece of literary art, and so by that very classification, it is inherently useless. Before you wonder why you have wasted your time on a useless mass of words, though, keep in mind that by this same logic, this article has beauty and purpose in its very existence. Arguably, it was written to be admired, and so we leave you to determine – is it valuable?
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE CARROLL (FLICKR)
Volume 14, Issue 6 ▪ Incite Magazine ▪ 31
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