Browsing articles tagged with " politics"
Nov 15, 2012
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Alas! Atlas! (2012)

version française ici

Fog and reality! Cloud and mappemonde!
Victor HUGO

KEYWORDS: visualisation, cartography, cartogram, Facebook, US presidential election 2012, Purple America

Recently, I opened my Facebook account to see the juxtaposed images of two maps of the United States. The first map illustrated the results of the 2012 American presidential election: blue states for the Democrats and red states for the Republicans. The second map, dated 1846, was a representation of abolitionist and slave states before the start of the American Civil War.[1]

What struck me at first glance was the apparent similarity between the two maps. It seemed that the distribution of political forces was the same. The abolitionist states and territories of 1846 were, more or less, the Democratic states of 2012. The slave states and territories were clearly in the camp of Republicans. The effectively demonstrated parallels were so compelling that I immediately shared the image. This commentary by Michelle Lawrence was accompanied by two short sentences: “Sometimes change is really hard especially when people don’t want to change. Just something to ponder.” Indeed, looking at the two images gave the impression that nothing has changed in the one hundred and sixty-six years that we have travelled. In short, as the saying goes, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’

The concept of mapmaking inspires respect; there is an air of truth and authenticity about the practice. It is difficult to doubt the reality of map, maybe because of an innate trust we carry for them. In any case, I was there at my computer, confronted with this terrifying image of an unchanging world. And I was disappointed to think that we, as a society, have made such a long journey to be staring back at that very sad starting point. After a few minutes, my enthusiasm to share this with other Facebook users quickly turned into interrogation. What was the reality mapped out before me? Is the world of today really the same as the world yesterday?

To put it all in a historical context and to see if the American electorate had evolved over the years, I began to think of other presidential elections. I thought right away of the Ronald Reagan tidal wave of 1984. The winds of conservatism swept across America leaving only Minnesota and Washington, DC to the Democrats. At the other end of the spectrum, there was the decisive victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936) who was re-elected triumphantly leaving the Republicans with the two small states of Maine and Vermont. On the other hand, and in an almost negative image of the 2012 election, we find the Jimmy Carter election results of 1976. It firmly placed in the Democratic camp all of the southern states often associated with the Republicans.[2]

On this closer examination, I had difficulty in reconciling the three maps above to the political immutability underpinned by the ‘2012 – 1846’ image. Were there changes or not? Looking at a wider scope of images mapping the results of previous presidential elections, it is clear that there have been many changes over the years. The problem with a comment like the one that Michelle Lawrence made, is that it is simplistic and sensationalist. The difficulty of reconciling what is seen and what is said resides in the fact that these particular maps are not speaking about the same thing. The context is warped.

Presenting pictures that look alike offers a simplified view of the past and of the present. It is a truncated, veritably ‘fake’ reality. There has been a lot of talk about polarized American viewpoints and this dual image suddenly offers proof of legendary division. If we are truly interested in evaluating voter diversity in the United States, we should look farther. Perhaps we should begin with the maps of Purple America[3], and migrate to the cartograms of election results complied by Mark Newman of the University of Michigan.[4]

But, the deed was done. I had, in a burst of thoughtless enthusiasm (as is often the case on the Internet), joined the ranks of 45,000 other Facebook users who had also shared the maps and the comment. At first, the juxtaposition of the NOW and THEN image, seemed to offer an eloquent synthesis of the situation, but ultimately it is clear that all who clicked to share were duped. If the shortcut was not a trap, it was certainly a cul-de-sac.

Daniel Dugas
November 12, 2012

Footnotes

[1] Michelle Lawrence, Facebook Account, November 10, 2012
http://www.facebook.com/michelle.lawrence.92754
[2] The website 270 to win offers interactive maps of every presidential election since 1789. To put the maps in context the site also lists the major issues of the day.  http://www.270towin.com/ November 10, 2012
[3] Robert J. Vanderbei, Election 2004 Results: http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2004/ November 10, 2012
[4] Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, Maps of the 2012 US presidential election results : http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2012/
See also: 2012 U.S. Election Visualizations, Christopher G. Healey, Department of Computer Science, North Carolina State University http://www.csc.ncsu.edu/faculty/healey/US_election/
November 10, 2012

Aug 13, 2012
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LONDON 2012: quicker to paradise (2012)

[Thoughts about the fabulous closing ceremonies]

Daniel Dugas with contributions from Valerie LeBlanc
August 13, 2012

LYRICS AND REALITIES
Imagine there’s no countries,
(John Lennon)

With all the flags waving and a massive,
dominating Union Jack outlining the track,
it is kind of hard to do.

There is Nothing to kill or die for
(John Lennon)

Nevertheless during the final minutes of the closing ceremonies,
the Olympic Flag was carried by members of the British Armed Forces.
It’s like they say, if you want peace, prepare for war.

Imagine no possessions
(John Lennon)

VS

I’m wearing all my favourite brands
(Taio Cruz)

+

It’s not about the money, money, money
We don’t need your money, money, money
(Jessie J)

Why are the medals, medals, medals, made of precious metal anyway?
Flash images of winning athletes biting their own.

FASHION
And no religion too
(John Lennon)

Annie Lennox’s Goth Pirate ship with charred sails:
a royally well-matched colonialist image to compliment the fashion extravaganza.

Did anybody see Fellini’s Roma – Catholic Church Fashion Show lately? Fellini’s ironic images must have informed the London’s closing ceremonies. Whether it is the lighted hats of the bishops (glow-in-the-dark hats of the Brazilian dancers), the deacon outfits equipped with roller skates (roller-skating nuns) or the skeleton float (Lennox’s ship). This is especially interesting when you realized that the Queen of England heads up the Church of England.

PSYCHEDELIA
Psychedelic magical mystery tour bus

How can we reconcile the psychedelic in us with the rectitude of the Olympic movement regarding drugs?  Is the magic drink good for the mind but bad for the body?  Go ask Lucy.

BURNING
Was the so-called re-enactment of the Pink Floyd cover Wish You Were Here, death by burning, auto combustion or political reference to last year’s burning effigy of the London 2012 Olympics organiser Lord Coe in protest at the sponsorship role of Dow Chemical? [1]

ENLIGHTENMENT
After reading a comment by the creative director and choreographer of the show, Kim Gavin it now makes sense: “My approach was to say, ‘Let’s not over-think it. . . . Let’s have a party. I don’t want anyone to say, ‘I don’t understand this.’” [2]

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Sex Pistols, The Cure, Amy Winehouse.

 

[1] London 2012: India 2012 Olympics protest in Bhopal burns Coe effigy, BBC website, 2 Dec 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16001266
For more information, please see Tell Lord Coe to stop defending Dow Chemical: http://action.amnesty.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1194&ea.campaign.id=15017

[2] London 2012: Closing ceremony the after-party to end all after-parties, thestar.com, August 12, 2012  http://www.thestar.com/sports/london2012/article/1241117–london-2012-closing-ceremony-the-after-party-to-end-all-after-parties

Jun 25, 2010
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Grand Spectacle (2010)

The grand spectacle of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is a permanent link on the CNN website:

 

But what are witnessing here, an endless supply of oil, right in the middle of the so called Peak Oil [1] period? And like oil thrown on a fire, another great spectacle, the World Cup is there to keep us busy, to distract us from the first event. “Uncertainty is organized everywhere” to paraphrase Guy Debord [2], the French theorist.

There is an interesting passage in the Comments on the Society of the Spectacle [3] that seems to relate to the current Oil Spill.  In this section Debord speaks of economic necessities, the mystery and the secrecy of power:

And more assuredly, it has been almost universally accepted that the geological explorations for oil-beds in the subsoil of the city of Paris, so noisily conducted in the autumn of 1986, had no other serious purpose than to measure the inhabitants’ current level of stupefaction and submission: by showing them supposed research so absolutely contradicted on the economic level. [4]

Hopefully the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not a machiavelic test orchestrated by the great powers of the world to study and chart the reactions of people. I am nonetheless certain that an army of analysts is mapping the degree of anger; the levels of docility; and the limit of tolerance of the local populations along the coast.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Debord
[3] http://www.notbored.org/commentaires.html
[4] Debord, G (1998) Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, XVIII (p. 56), Verso 1998

 

May 3, 2010
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House on Fire (2010)

House on Fire was written on May 3, 2010 after listening reports on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As of today, June 3, the oil is still coming out and the spill has now reached catastrophic level. Although the text was written early on in this saga, I decided to publish it on my blog as it convey the feelings of disbelief that I feel might be experienced by others. [2777 words]

House on Fire by Daniel Dugas

May 3, 2010. On the radio this morning, I hear that the oil is slowly gushing out, thousands of barrels a day from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. What does gushing slowly mean? Can the flow of oil come out suddenly, copiously, forcibly like a hemorrhage, and slowly, all at once? Who has qualified the speed of this spill?

This is such an aberration, especially in the light of what happened in 1989 with the Exxon Valdez. How could something like this happen now? It’s not that we did not learn from the past, it’s more like we don’t want to learn from it. Greed is the motivation and greed will define the actions of many of the players involved. bp will fight to survive and its teams of lawyers are surely working overtime. It is important to remember how the tab was settled with the Exxon Valdez, which was repaired, renamed – the S/R Mediterranean and is now registered in Panama. “An Anchorage jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages.” [1] After a number of challenges the punitive damages were reduced to $2.5 billion, this again was renegotiated in a lower court to $500 million and finally Exxon agreed in 2008 to pay 75% of the final invoice. [2]

Cheapness and greed are the two motors that propel and make the big oil machines breathe, eat and grow. The cargo barge Irving Whale is another good example. It sank in 1970 near the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St Lawrence with its cargo of PCB-laden bunker oil. In the days following the sinking, oil washed ashore onto the islands. There are, to this day, more than 200,000 bags of oil debris buried under the beautiful dunes. The clean up effort continues and officials are still removing the bags as they surface. [3] According to the scientific data of the time, the cold waters of the Gulf made the oil congeal and reduced leakage from the barge. The prognosis changed in the early 90’s when scientists noticed PCB’s leaking from the carcass of the boat. The Government of Canada tried unsuccessfully to force Irving Oil [4] to salvage their boat but Irving had… ‘abandoned ownership of the wreck, since it was considered to be in international waters.’ [5]

When all failed, the Canadian Government went ahead with the recovery on its own. The doomed barge was hoisted from the bottom of the sea and brought back to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it was going to be cut into pieces and sold for its weight as scrap metal. The Irving lawyers were waiting in the wings, as soon as the ship reached its final destination the lawyers put an injunction rightfully claiming its valuable cargo. They pumped the oil out of the barge and sold it. If this operation would have taken place today, it is certain that the marketing branch of the company would have re-branded the operation as a great recycling project. Something like: “Hey, nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed type of event.”

bp has also invested in its branding, they are after all, the greenest of the oil giants. Its glorious logo is a vibrant leaf-like-sun-emitting symbol of hope and responsibility, a beacon of everything green, or is it? [6] Whatever lies under the beauty of the graphic remains a mystery but the image is so beautiful that we want to trust it. Even the Green Party of Canada must have thought that it was irresistible; as they too have a similar emblem.

Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, on April 20, the disaster and the coverage has been as controlled as it can be. Two weeks later I am puzzled by the lack of attention and coverage. It is as if the spill was a small thing, something that is part of the game, a calculated risk. I heard earlier today, on the CBC airwaves, the soothing voice of Dr. Ed Overton, Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University’s Department of Environmental Science. [7] Here, finally, we have an expert talking about the oil spill. He spoke of the uncertainty and the scope of this event, noting in a matter of fact way, that it will never be as huge as the Exxon Valdez, “… I don’t think that it will be that bad. ” The good doctor, talked about the oil spreading over a much longer period of time than the ill fated tanker and explained that the effects will be different, “… this is a long-term affair spread over a long period of time …”

I admit that Napoleon could have been killed with a bullet but he was slowly poisoned instead. The difference is minute but the outcome is the same. Dr Overton went on to compare the situation to a house fire; ‘a room might be on fire, but it doesn’t mean that the house is in danger.’ Here I’m guessing that the doctor might be comparing the oil spill, or the Gulf of Mexico to the ‘room’ and the rest of the planet to the ‘house.’ (?) He was actually talking about the environment as a series of compartments, secluded from one another, with fire doors in between habitats. (much like a pillbox of weekly medication) Overton claimed to be not associated with any oil company, but really? Considering the size and significance of the Gulf of Mexico to the planet’s ecology, how could an environmental professor, acting on his own, create this house analogy, and not show more concern for the kitchen?

In the 1970’s the Canadian government built a series of American style bungalows on native reserves in Manitoba. The native people were puzzled by the architecture of the buildings, wondering why someone had to open a door and go through a hallway to open another door to go into another room. It seemed unnecessary and they decided to re-design their homes, opening them all up, effectively creating a space closer to their traditional view of the world. Everybody can see that the clouds and the birds cross the political borders of our world without even thinking about it, and why would they? Like acid rain, oil will not stop on a specific latitude or longitude.

On their website, Time Magazine has brought back its top 10 environment disasters page. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might even make the list if the leak, as they call it, continues. Oil companies have a specific way of wording their messages. A leak sounds to me like a dripping kitchen tap, something annoying but that you can learn to live with. Obviously this is more than that; it is a rupture, a break, a hole. Suncrude, the world’s largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands in Alberta is the owner on the infamous Aurora tailings pond where some 1,606 waterfowl died after landing in it. [8] The idea of a pond is good, it sounds small and cute, it brings forth image of the famous Walden Pond; a place to reflect and think. They are places where life forms flourish. But those tailings ponds are artificially created, huge lake-like forms where poisons are deposited; they are settling areas for toxic waste.

This latest catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico comes after years of environmental awareness, after years of being told the difference and the importance of not using plastic bags, which are made of oil, after years of composting, of sorting through the garbage – recycling the dry from the wet, the toxic from the organic. We were told, and we believed, that the biggest part of the problem resided with the consumers and not the industries, with us – and not – with them. ‘Our actions will save our fragile planet’, and we bought it. We thought that it was important enough. We listened to Al Gore warning us about the warming of the planet, we accepted to pay more for green energy; every little bit helps as they say. After two weeks, where are Gore and Suzuki? Did they say anything? Will they? Should they? Aren’t their rooms heating up from this localized fire? Is there smoke seeping under their doors? Should I really put my chip bag in the trash or just toss is out in this great garbage can of a world?

We live in a world of slogans, the great motivators of our lives, along with the loyalty programs that exist out there. Beyond Petroleum (bp), Make things better (Toyota), Solutions for Today’s Energy Challenges (Halliburton) or Solutions are in our nature (David Suzuki) – they all offer visions of optimism and possibilities. But this time the deception is complete, our optimism exhausted. What made us believe them, what made us buy into their dreams? What is the next step, the next greenwash, the next empty word to be flaunted before our eyes like carrots. Is there a roundabout in the dead end of marketing?

Environment has become a buzzword – or it was until recently – and a dreamscape where we project ourselves, perhaps into the future. Avatar worked because of all of those years of learning, of trying to be more in tune with Mother Nature, but Mother Nature is about to become one big ‘fucked up’ lady. But wait! There is hope, bp has a plan, the building of a Containment Pollution Chamber as they call it, a huge compartment of steel to catch the oil and pump it onto a barge waiting at the surface. [9] The manager of the Operations for bp assures the public that bp has a plan B, C, D and F, in case the Containment Pollution Chamber does not work. How can bp have so many clean up plans when they were out there drilling without any safety net? Did they really think that all of their dollar bills would cushion their fall? But here we are, in week number 2, and everyone is enthralled about the engineering marvel of the container.

CNN:

It sounds like a Hollywood movie. An impending disaster — think the disabled spacecraft in “Apollo 13″ or the asteroid hurtling toward Earth in “Armageddon” — prompts a daring intervention by engineers to save the day.[10]

Somewhere else another announcer talks about the box as some kind of Egyptian project. Hooray! We will have our own pyramid! The cable news networks keep showing workers welding the metal sarcophagus that will make everything go away. Why are we so in awe in front of this engineering accomplishment? Is it because it creates a simple superhero narrative, with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Evil is lurking, slithering, dripping out of the kitchen tap, and meanwhile … the Heros are working overtime on a plan to place a gigantic encasement tomb to save the day. The problem is that the good guys and the bad guys are one entity, one being. And why are we so excited by this chamber and not by the remote control switch technology lacking on the Deepwater Horizon Platform, and still lacking on all of the other 4,000 drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico? [11] And how come it was not there? The European Union forces drilling platforms to have a remote control switch to shut off wells. [12] We have the same idea in our homes, which we all agree is a good one – a switch to turn off the water main in case there is an emergency. It is mandatory in EU but not in England where bp has its headquarters. The company refused to implement the practice because of its cost, about half a million dollars.

Will this go away? When will it go away? When will you be able to go to the store and buy Gulf shrimps; when will you go back into the water; walk on the beaches and play in the sand? The executives of bp are as picky as everybody else when it comes time to choose the location of their next holiday. If this spot is ruined, it does not really matter, their world is made of many compartments and they will find a corner that is still unspoiled, pristine, the perfect fit for their families to frolic candidly. And if there are no more corners, they will build one and put fences around it – period.

If we worry about products that are not tested on animals we should be dead worried about this experiment. There has never been anything like it; it eclipses all that we have known. And beside the health risks involved, there are also the risks to the reputation of prominent figures. Armies of lawyers from bp to Halliburton are already devising their escape routes, planning to surrender on their own terms, perhaps even negotiating for immunity – with bonuses. At worst they will go bankrupt like Union Carbide did following the Bhopal chemical disaster in 1984. [13] The bankruptcy of Union Carbide permitted Dow Chemical to purchase the corporation without acquiring the Bhopal legacy. The lawyers for bp and its associates are certainly looking at this option right now. And let’s not forget the banks, which were too big to fail, yet they were rescued. Could bp fall into the same category?

Then on May 1, came Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square car bomb terrorist. [14] Was this for real? The timing of this failed bombing was very strange. It pulled so much attention away from bp that I have been wondering if this was not a set up. Yes I know, another conspiration theory, but you have to admit that timing is everything. The Nashville flooding, on the other hand, would have be too difficult to stage even for big oil.

Even if the Time Square event is not related to the spill, it does bring an interesting thread into play. No terrorist could have created such havoc as bp is doing right now. The effects, the range of devastation and the implication for the ecosystems and the people who live in them is way outside the Al-Qaeda league. The impending approach of the oil slick is terrorizing people and animals alike, it is creating fear and anxiety – in other words: terror. Al-Qaeda could not have done this, but here we are, with bp at the helm. It is backed by the Government of the United States of America that has sanctioned offshore drilling; leading us to rest assured in the belief that it was clean, safe, and environmentally friendly. Good going!

Could this become a case of National Security? Let’s imagine for a moment that the oil slick has reached the coast, and is making its way into the ports, like Mobile, Alabama for example. And then a little thug, a budding homegrown terrorist or one from abroad, goes out on a stroll, throwing a match in the mixture. Could this happen? What would we do with the bp executives then, would they be going to Guantanamo? And what about the US government, would heads roll there? Unlikely scenario.

Could this be a case of crime against Humanity? The human specie, humankind, what is known as Humanity is intimately intertwined with the animal kingdom, isn’t it Mr. Susuki? What is done to them is done to us? Maybe? Unlikely scenario.

Headlines:
bp Finally Caps The Well!
Bravo To The Savants!
World Wins Battle Against Evil!

And then, for years and years and years the company battles in the courts, negotiates the terms of reality, reduces and minimizes its responsibilities. The lawyers decorate their offices and buy new suits and then redecorate again and buy more suits until all the money has gone out, like the oil of an old well. Bankruptcy is declared and then another company comes along and takes it over, plucking it like a dangling fruit, ready to be eaten. Likely scenario.

Daniel Dugas ©
May 3, 2010

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill#Litigation_and_cleanup_costs
[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/idUKN2641081120080827

[3] http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/01/08/magdalene-islands-oil-recovery.html

[4] Irving Oil is a gasoline, oil, and natural gas producing and exporting company part of the J.D. Irving Limited privately owned conglomerate company headquartered in Saint John, New Brunswick

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATL_2701#Pollution

[6] http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/bp.html

[7] http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/asithappens/aihstreaming_20100503_01.wma

[8] http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Tailings+pond+breaks+federal+officer/2663851/story.html

[9] http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/03/oil.spill.desperate.measure/index.html

[10] http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/03/oil.spill.desperate.measure/index.html

[11] http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0726/p03s01-usgn.html

[12] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704423504575212031417936798.html

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Carbide

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faisal_Shahzad

Image: A thick patch of goo and oily water floats in the sea a 1/4 mile from the Sand Dollar Marina in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
(Photo: Lars Gange – Download hi-res here. Usage is permitted free of charge for all uses web, printed & otherwise. The only restrictions is that images can’t be resold and photo credit must be given.)

Jun 6, 2002
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The Walls Have Ears (2002)

• Passing Moments: EMMEDIA celebrates 25 years,Artcity 2004 Festival, Calgary, AB, 2004
• Fugitive Images: The Global Visions Video Lounge, Art Gallery of Edmonton, AB, 2003
• The Activist Menu, Emmedia, Calgary, AB, 2002

The Walls Have Ears, 2002
Duration: 4min
NTSC • 2007

Everybody is suspected of being an enemy of the state or an undercover agent. It is not “J’ACCUSE” any more,it is “I DENOUNCE.” The Walls Have Ears was realized in the framework of the Activist Menu, Media Activismand Community Collaborations held in response to the Kananaskis Country G8 Summit.

May 6, 1999
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Foundwealth (1999)

Struts Gallery, Sackville, NB March 12 – April 3, 1999
Artcite, Windsor, ON May 18 – June 16 2001

FOUNDWEALTH is about seeing the light.  To see it indicates both, the end of a journey, and the beginning of a certain level of hope.  The moment where the light is seen is a moment where space and time are crunched together into a new thing.  It is the split second where choices are made.  I want the installation to be about that moment, where everything could happen.  This moment of decision or indecision looks a lot like our point in time; the crossing of the two millenniums.  It seems as if we are moving into a corridor of weightlessness.  It seems that the EXIT and the ENTRY, the GOOD BYE and WELCOME signs do not have any particular places.  Like astronauts in a tube, we have to look, while lost in the dark, at the light that may come through the cracks, to guide and to inspire us to continue forward, to believe that there is some worth in everything and maybe wealth is not what we thought at first.
Is wealth something that one can find, like a fat wallet on the sidewalk?  How can wealth be lost?  How can it be found and how can it be maintained?  Maybe it happens simply, by fortune, while strolling down by the lake, by the river, or going home late at night.  Maybe it happens by ingenuity.  Perhaps it is a bit of both, luck and skills, patience and audacity.
FOUNDWEALTH is constructed around a few historical moments.  In 1776, the Scottish economist, Adam Smith wrote in his book An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations about the invisible hand that comes and regulates the economy.  In 1848, John August Sutter, the man who was in the process, through his sawmills, of becoming one of the wealthiest man on the Pacific coast, was ruin by the discovery of gold on his own property.  In 1891, the Pope Leo the 13th wrote an encyclical letter on the condition of the working classes.  References to the work of Alchemists; the all-purpose curative liquid A.K.A. – Snake Oil; and the Greased Pole where goods where hung during village fairs inform this installation.
FOUNDWEALTH is a poetic reflection and a kind of frontal collision-relationship of the rich and the poor.  It is a bridge made of burning rags and thrown over the abyss where the river called Economy runs furiously.  I want the carpet-cleaning trainee to talk to the capital risk investor.  I want to know if the parents are telling the story of how the good RSSP bear grew so big in their own forest preserve.
FOUNDWEALTH is made up of seven works.  Those works bear reference to the number 7, which has always held a powerful and mystical place in History.  We only have to think of the Seven Seas; the navigable waters of the world; forming that road to treasure and adventure; the Seven Marvels of the World which included the lighthouse in Alexandria; the Seventh Heaven where God and the most exalted angels dwell; the Seven Deadly Sins (among them, Envy); and the Seven Eleven, a place where you can buy a 6-49 ticket.
Daniel Dugas, Shemogue NB February 1999

 

Daniel Dugas peers into a glass sculpture that is part of his recent art installation, FOUNDWEALTH

Art by Installation

Daniel Dugas’ last exhibit forced viewers to questions what it means to be wealthy
By Alison Hughes
in Sackville

LUMINOUS lighting emanates from seven surfaces in the dim room. It radiates through yellow plastic beads, shines on carved glass and illuminates messages set into plain white walls.

The exhibit’s overall effect is deceptively simple, but behind the constructions making up Daniel Dugas’ latest art installation is a complex thought process. Drawing on influences from medieval alchemy to modem economics, FOUNDWEALTH uses audiotapes, found art objects and sculpture to examine conflicting ideas about what it means to be wealthy.

A self-described “pluri­ disciplinary artist,” Dugas has been pushing the artistic envelope since completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Université de Moncton, in 1986. His resume includes 12 solo exhibitions, 24 two-person and group shows, as well as dozens of audio, video, radio and performance credits.
Dugas bas received numerous Canada Council and provincial Creation grants for his projects, along with funding from several art institutes. These have led to travel opportunities throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including a role as a Canadian representative at the 1997 Jeux de La Francophonie, in Madagascar.
While working for a year at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Dugas met and began collaborating with his partner Valerie LeBlanc. Together, they headed off to the Art Institute of Chicago.

With LeBlanc originally from Halifax and Dugas raised primarily in Moncton, the two eventually moved to New Brunswick. Here, they gained notoriety in 1996 by travelling to small towns with an exhibit known as the Trunk Gallery. People paid a dollar to look inside the hatchback of a Citation to see the couple’s custom-designed audiovisual installation. After Peter Gzowski interviewed them about this unique way of taking art to the people, they received calls from all across the country.

“A lot of people would go to a Legion, but never to a gallery,” Dugas says. “There’s also a need for more populist art. I think it’s important for an artist to have reactions from many people in order to grow.”

In FOUNDWEALTH, Dugas questions whether wealth is anything more than a marketing illusion in today’s society. The show’s first installation is a wall-mounted piece of beveled glass with the exhibit title etched elegantly into the surface. In front of this hangs a bare bulb with a symbolic and functional string attached.

As a motor on the floor turns noisily around, it moves the string and causes a shadow title on the wall to shrink and grow with rhythmic regularity. This hypnotic motion draws in the viewer, suggesting wealth’s seductive power. Simultaneously, it reveals the crude machinery working behind the scenes to create expensive polished products.

Dugas cleverly combines public perceptions with personal research in offering his insights into the origins of wealth. Central to this installation, both physically and conceptually, is a circular light table. A pole rising from the centre represents the medieval greased pole where foodstuffs used to be hung during celebrations, for those hungry, agile and determined enough to reach them.

On the table itself, seven carefully chosen found objects are displayed like jewels. Each of the items, from a broken doll to a pinecone, has a word written on the surface, forming the sentence “I always thought there were seven seas.”

“The roots of wealth were originally the seven seas,” Dugas explains. “But when I got out a globe, I counted 33 seas. It’s like the growth of wealth parallels the number of seas. That’s the terrible beauty of the free market, that it always finds a way to grow,” he says. “It’s both creativity and cancer, and the role of society is to decide the boundaries.”

A voluminous and eclectic reader, Dugas explored economic limits in the exhibit through three seemingly unrelated men: 18th-century Scottish founder of capitalism Adam Smith, late-19th-century Pope Leo the 13th and mid-19th-century California lumber baron John Sutter.

A white plaster hand mounted in an opening in the gallery wall symbolizes the “invisible hand” Smith described as regulating the free-market economy.

Sutter serves as a warning that even hard work and capability aren’t enough to ensure wealth if the timing is wrong. The millionaire sawmill owner was ruined by the discovery of gold on his property and the subsequent gold rush fever. In the exhibit, a carefully crafted walnut light table holds a pile of yellow plastic beads that look like gold, but have no inherent value.

Having lived the hand-to-mouth existence of an artist for many years, Dugas has given considerable thought to the role of money in society. Like a magpie, he picked up shiny fragments about wealth from novels, financial pages and personal observations during the year it took to assemble the show.

While this installation hasn’t been purchased by a collecting institution, as others have been in the past, Dugas considers it a success. As he begins to dismantle these pieces, though, his mind is on the multitude of other projects awaiting attention. He has just published his fourth poetry chapbook and together with Ms. LeBlanc is preparing more manuscripts for a launch later this spring. Then, there is another word-based project involving parking lots and an audio production already under way. Dugas is also a musician.

“Projects are like kids. The one that squeaks the most gets finished,” he laughs. “Valerie is a very productive artist too. Often we say ‘gee, wouldn’t it be nice to just look out the window and be bored?’ ”

As well as pursuing their own art projects, the couple runs a high-end glass-carving business, producing presentation items and architectural details. Both enjoy the freedom of working together at home in Shemogue, not far from Shediac. Dugas still feels the urgency to communicate ideas through painting, sculpture and other media. Whether the projects are about nature and civilization, media manipulation, or found wealth, he plans to continue making art that stimulates thought about challenging subjects.

“With the crossing of the two millenniums, we’re a bit like in a corridor of weightlessness; the entry and the exit signs, the welcome and the goodbye signs, we don’t seem to have a specific place,” he muses. “I think it’s very important to have a feeling of hope and of the importance of what you’re doing- that it’s of value. ”

Telegraph Journal
April 17, 1999

Feb 6, 1997
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Quand l’Ouest était un océan… et Calgary une île (1994)

Quand l’Ouest était un océan… et Calgary une île.

Après un séjour de deux ans aux États-Unis l’auteur effectue un retour au Canada et le paysage politique qu’il retrouve est peuplé par les Ralph Klein et les Preston Manning. L’auteur se demande si les changements et l’assainissement des finances publiques finiront par assainir la société en général. « Quand l’Ouest était un océan… et Calgary une île » a été écrit en 1994 et, depuis, la pièce Ubu roi d’Alfred Jarry a célébré son centenaire.

 

Calgary, le quartier général du Parti Réformiste. Il est 6 heures du soir. Le temps est doux. Je vais marcher le long de la rivière Bow. Les pistes cyclables sont envahies par M. et Mme Performance. Ils sont jeunes, aérodynamiques, enveloppés dans du Spandex et du Velcro fluorescent. Ils courent, ils patinent, ils skient, ils pédalent, ils ont des casques, des genouillères, des gants et des montres approuvées et certifiées pour aller au fond des océans.  Toute cette activité me rappelle un livre de bandes dessinées de mon adolescence.  Sur la couverture il y a une île grouillante de crabes rouges. Il y a aussi un complexe sportif ultramoderne, vibrant avec une multitude de coureurs et de gymnastes. L’histoire est simple et familière. Un savant devient fou. Il se réfugie sur une île à l’écart du monde et là, dans la solitude, développe l’athlète de l’an 2000. Malheureusement ce développement a la tendance de rendre le cerveau de ces hommes et de ces femmes aussi mou et léger qu’un soufflé. Un de ces cobayes réalise le danger de l’expérience et avec sa compagne, l’héroïne, organise une résistance secrète. L’histoire se termine comme vous l’avez deviné. Le savant, après une lutte intense avec le héros, meurt sur la plage, dévoré par les crabes. Le héros et l’héroïne s’embrassent en regardant le soleil se coucher.

Il est 18 h 30. Le temps est encore doux. Nous nous esquivons les uns les autres avec succès. La piste cyclable longe la rivière et la Memorial Drive. Je bifurque à la gauche et emprunte l’escalier qui permet d’accéder au somment de la falaise. Le rythme est plus lent. C’est une montée ardue. L’escalier est muni de plates-formes où les usagers peuvent s’arrêter et souffler un peu ou tout simplement admirer la vue. À chaque niveau, il est intéressant de se retourner vers la piste cyclable et de voir combien la course est serrée. On se donne du coude, on fait sonner les clochettes des vélos, on siffle, on cri « À DROITE », « À GAUCHE ». Ces derniers avertissements visent les piétons, ces larves rampantes qui persistent à ralentir le flux incessant. Je grimpe plus haut et plus je grimpe, plus il fait calme. À la dernière marche sur Crecent Drive c’est le silence total. La vue est imprenable. La ville est à mes pieds, belle, facile et silencieuse. Le ciel est immense et beau comme seul un ciel de l’Ouest peut l’être. Il y a du mauve dans les nuages, du rose, du bleu, du blanc et les rocheuses sont assises à l’arrière-plan comme dans une peinture romantique.

Tout à coup voici un quartier cossu avec de jolis parcs et de petits chiens de race qui jappent quand les Jeep Cherokee ou les BMW passent. On joue au footbag et au Frisbee. Il est presque 7 heures. Cresent Drive longe la falaise qui entoure la ville, cette ville qui est le centre nerveux du Parti Réformiste et qui est aussi l’ancienne mairie de Ralph Klein. D’où je suis la ville ressemble non pas à un regroupement organique comme il se devrait, mais plutôt à une maquette, adaptable, réglable à volonté. C’est cette idée de société comme maquette, comme modèle réduit de décor de théâtre, qui m’a rappelé l’histoire du savant fou, de ses surhommes et de ces crabes rouges. Dans ma promenade tranquille, je commence à comprendre la solidité qu’on doit attribuer ici aux falaises qui surplombent la ville. Je comprends aussi la sécurité et l’insouciance peut-être, qu’il existe à spéculer sur le nouveau prototype de société qu’on est en train de créer. L’avènement du monde privé (privé comme dans privatiser) quand on a payé son hypothèque et d’autres possessions matérielles peut sans doute être envisagé sous un angle optimiste. Mais voilà, quel est ce monde privé et de quoi est-il fait ?

Calgary doit être la Biosphère numéro 3, après la planète Terre numéro 1, et après la Biosphère numéro 2 du Texas. Dans la nôtre, qui ressemble de plus en plus à celle de l’île aux crabes rouges, nous apprenons tous les jours à nous serrer la ceinture, comme on nous dit, à faire plus avec moins. Nous comprenons maintenant l’importance de toutes ces modes de conditionnement physique. Nous comprenons qu’un corps sain produira beaucoup et beaucoup plus longtemps. C’est une belle coïncidence avec la dégradation éventuelle du système de santé. Simultanément nous saisissons que notre monde nous glisse entre les doigts.

Il est 7 h 15 et le soleil descend tranquillement. Les ombres de la falaise ont déjà envahi ceux qui vivent dans le creux de l’escarpement et ce n’est pas compter ceux qui habitent dans les caves. Quant à moi je marche encore dans la lumière, dans ce quartier romantique, sur la route des réformistes.

Me voici à Calgary dans une société jeune, dynamique, agressive, gagnante et performante. Je ne peux m’empêcher de me demander si cette société sera aussi malléable que les fesses des coureurs dans leurs culottes de Spandex. Fera-t-on d’elle une chose qui pourra être contenue ? Est-ce que le gouvernement de l’Alberta conduit ses affaires comme une entreprise, comme on l’entend souvent, ou comme une compagnie de théâtre vaudeville ? Je dirais comme la seconde et j’ajouterai que la pièce qu’on présente tous les soirs est Ubu Roi d’Alfred Jarry. La mise en scène et le rôle principal sont tenus, naturellement, par l’honorable M. Ralph Klein. On a dit de cette pièce qu’elle était la synthèse absolue de tout drame historique. Voilà certainement quelque chose à quoi les Albertains peuvent s’identifier. Et qui plus est, cette pièce fut écrite par des adolescents de 15 ans, dont Jarry. Jeunes contrevenants du passé ? Dans moins de deux ans, le 10 décembre 1996, pour être plus exact, nous pourrons fêter le 100e anniversaire de la première représentation de la pièce.

Ubu Roi c’est l’histoire d’Ubu qui, poussé par l’ambition, tue le roi de Pologne et s’empare du trône. Il gouverne en dépit du bon sens. Il extermine les nobles, les magistrats et les financiers dans le seul but d’accroître ses richesses. Il se charge lui-même de collecter les impôts. Ubu le roi est finalement défait par le Czar et s’enfuit avec sa femme pour l’Espagne ou la France.

Il y a un lien je pense entre le savant de l’île aux crabes rouges, Ubu Roi et Ralph Klein. Claude Roy dans Description critiques, le commerce des classiques paru chez Gallimard en 1951 :

“Mais ce qui nous touche, en Ubu, c’est son inépuisable actualité, c’est-à-dire sa ressource active. De Hitler à MacArthur, le roi Ubu n’a pas fini encore, hélas, d’être prophétiquement ressemblant, d’être le prototype vengeur de toutes les citrouilles armées qui nous poussent ubuesquement à l’abattoir, après nous avoir décervelés… “

Voilà, il est 8 h 20. La marche s’étire. C’est maintenant le chemin du retour. Un homme est à genoux sur son gazon. Il plante des fleurs et nous nous souhaitons une bonne soirée. Les feuilles seront bientôt sur les arbres. Je vois en bas de la falaise ce que j’appelle « Candy Town ». Un nouveau développement qui inclut un YMCA, un cinéma IMAX, un marché alimentaire, un « authentique » café des années 1880 et un jongleur. Les couleurs sont criardes, l’architecture laisse à désirer comme souvent l’est l’architecture post-moderne et le jongleur semble triste. Je vois bien quelques personnes là-bas, mais elles sont si petites d’ici. On dirait un tableau de Chirico. Une ville où la bombe neutron fut utilisée. Exit à la vie sans endommager cette sacro-sainte propriété privée. Petit monde où les places publiques sont privées.

Je retourne chez moi en pensant au Père Ubu maintenant. J’accepte que le Roi Ralph soit beaucoup Ubu. Physiquement ils ont beaucoup en commun. La corpulence des représentations originales qu’Alfred Jarry nous a données du Père Ubu ressemble étrangement au Roi de l’Alberta. Moralement ils semblent compatibles. La dernière secousse ici, le dernier drame de ce qui n’est encore que le premier acte de cette pièce est sans contredit l’arrogant défi qu’il a lancé aux juges de la cour provinciale. À savoir qu’ils sont des employés provinciaux et à ce titre doivent suivre les directives du cabinet. Klein note qu’il n’est question que de réductions de salaire. Les juges et les criminels sont d’accord pour ensemble s’inquiéter. Notre bon roi n’en veut démordre. Ses conseillers, dans ce qui apparaît comme une vaine tentative, lui ont suggéré de nuancer ses propos. Une crise constitutionnelle gronde à l’horizon, l’indépendance judiciaire est en jeu, lit-on dans les journaux. J’entends résonner ici la voix du Père Ubu :

PÈRE UBU
Je vais d’abord réformer la justice, après quoi nous procéderons aux finances.

PLUSIEURS MAGISTRATS
Nous nous opposons à tout changement.

PÈRE UBU
Merdre. D’abord les magistrats ne seront plus payés.

Que cette crise se règle c’est à n’en pas douter. Dans quelques jours, quelques semaines. Ce qui est inquiétant c’est d’avoir comme roi quelqu’un qui n’hésite pas à s’attaquer aux fondations mêmes d’une société. L’Alberta vogue peut-être vers une cote de crédit triple A, mais est-ce que le prix à payer sera d’accepter froidement l’existence humaine comme étant une ressource naturelle au même titre que la forêt ou le gaz.

Nous ne savons pas encore qui est le Czar dans notre histoire. Ce que nous savons toutefois c’est que le Roi Ralph ne s’enfuira pas en Espagne et surtout pas en France.

Il est 21 h et je descends des hauteurs, par un autre escalier. Je m’enveloppe dans la nuit qui vient, dans le merveilleux royaume de l’Alberta.

 

 

 

Daniel Dugas
Calgary, printemps 1994

Texte publié dans le magazine Satellite, #1 février 1997 p. 18-19

 

May 6, 1993
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Transitory (1993)

• The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA Show, Chicago, IL, 1993

May 6, 1993
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In Transit (1993)

• EMMEDIA, Calgary, AB, 1993
• The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA Show, Chicago, IL, 1993

In Transit offer a collection of daily life passages in ten parts. The visuals draw a wide range of locations. Gathered in cities, nature settings, carnival, various modes of public and private transport, they are sometimes ironically set to the voiceovers. The texts are observations and reactions presented in either a poetic or blunt manner. Amidst this travelogue of the times is a desire to weigh situations and to make decisions based on individual needs and directions in life.

NTSC Colour 24:30min
Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas -Limit(E) Productions

May 6, 1989
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La boîte rouge (1989)

• Saint Mary’s Unniversity Art Gallery, Halifax, NS 8 février – 11 mars 1990
• Galerie Sans Nom, septembre 1990

La boîte rouge

La boîte rouge montée sur un support d’acier et la chaise fluorescente éclairée par des black lights sont reliés électriquement. Des commandes électriques installées sur la chaise activent un système sonore ainsi que deux projecteurs diapositives. La projection est fragmentée par des miroirs fixés sur la boîte. D’autres commandes, installées sous la boîte activent des composantes lumineuses installées dans un périscope qui peut être tiré hors de la boîte. La projection de diapositives ambrées est composée de close-ups d◊images recueillies dans les journaux. La bande sonore consiste en un collage de percussions et de 30 différents proverbes français

 

Daniel H. Dugas

Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Son neuvième recueil de poésie L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time vient de paraître aux Éditions Prise de parole.

Daniel Dugas is a poet, musician and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico and Australia. His ninth book of poetry: L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time has just been published by Les Éditions Prise de parole.

Daniel Dugas es poeta, músico y videocreador. Ha participado en exposiciones individuales y colectivas, festivals y eventos literarios en Norteamérica, Europa, México y Australia. Acaba de publicar su noveno poemario, L’esprit du temps / The spirit of time (Les Editions Prise de parole).

L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time est un projet de transmutation du paysage publicitaire en paysage poétique. Ce livre est à la fois un livre de photographie, un recueil de poésie et un essai lucide mais ludique sur notre société matérialiste. Il a été produit en numérique et imprimé en quantité limitée.

Date : Décembre 2015
Genre : Poésie
Collection : Poésie
ISBN : 9782894239629

Éditions Prise de parole

http://www.prisedeparole.ca/auteurs/?id=148

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