HannahSpeltBackwards

Content Writer Hannah Miller

Perfumer Barry Shell at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire 2012Big In JapanDumb Arts

Gif-tastic Vancity

Laughing LaughingBb LaughingCc

The “A-maze-ing Laughter” statues in English Bay by Chinese Artist Yue Minjun. These gifs are created from photographs taken with my 3D lenticular camera. More to come!

 

The Only Trouble With Film

Tulip at VanDusen Botanical Garden
– Is that it’s well into winter and I am only now posting these pretty spring pictures. Taken at VanDusen Botanical Garden on 35mm film, months ago!

Lake In Spring At VanDusen Botanical Garden

Plants at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Purple and Lavender

Lake reflection at vanDusen Botanical Garden

Ducklings at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Duckling and Lilypads at vanDusen Botanical Garden

Flower Bed at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Art Night

I’ve been lucky enough to be included in a cool little crew of people who get together weekly to work on creative arty things in a shared space. It’s really chill, no pressure to turn up, but when you do, you know you can work on your projects in an environment with like-minded folks. I admit, I haven’t been to many of the meet-ups yet, but I already have a strong appreciation for the group. The night that Rachel hosted had a lot of people filter through, working on sketches, laptops, water colours – even woodburning/engraving!

I set up my camera to try out my recently acquired remote. It allows you to choose how often you want the camera to take a photo, in order to make a timelapse. I’m pretty sure I set it to every 15 seconds or so over 2 – 3 hours. (Actually I just left it going until the camera battery ran out.) I’m pretty happy with the results of my first timelapse. It was pure luck that people were situated in such a way that we can see their sketches evolve. It’s fun to re-watch it, focusing on just one person to see their movements throughout the night. I notice something new each time!

Big thanks to the art night folks, and to Eff for the music.

Papergirl

It’s the idealistic, yet brilliantly simple concept that got me. Combine art, philanthropy and bicycles and you have a unique mode of art dissemination. Papergirl takes art to the streets and delivers it straight to the people, in the style of a newspaper route. It’s a global art movement in its second year in Vancouver, and as an appreciator of both biking and the arts, I had to get involved. This week, all the donated art was exhibited at the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre and I went along to the opening.

This is the poster I contributed. The only prerequisite was that the art must be able to be rolled up to go into the delivery bags and baskets. When I was apartment hunting, it felt like I visited just about every apartment building in Kitsilano. I noticed that so many of the buildings have these endearing names scrolled on their doors. Being near what Vancouverites call a beach, some of the names have a seaside feel, and others allude to Maple something-or-other in an act of Canadian patriotism I suppose. So I’ve been collecting photographs of these as I stroll the neighbourhood. And that’s what I made, that right there.

Here is a piece that caught my eye because they must have a 3D camera like mine, with the 4 lenses.

Papergirl Vancouver ExhibitionAnd this is a shot of the bicycle sculpture they had dangling overhead. I like the unpretentious peg display method too.

The ‘giftervention’ is happening tomorrow. Papergirls will ride out, placing art in the hands of unsuspecting strangers on an undisclosed route. I wonder if I will spot them!

Flower-snow

I’ve never seen so much cherry blossom. The streets were so pretty with all the petals sprinkled over the cars like confetti, making little white patches in the grass like snow. It makes a walk around the block feel like walking down the aisle, sorta. Then the sun comes and shines through those white blooms making me lament every time I left the house without a camera. Apparently it’s really annoying to clean off your car, but since it’s someone else’s, I’ll go on admiring it. These pics are all taken just around our neighbourhood, with my Olympus Trip and 400 ISO 35mm.

cherry blossom, sunlight, flare, car

cherry blossom, spring

blossom, spring, sidewalk

swing, sidewalk, blossom, sunlight

Failing to Define Creativity

Lately the idea occurred to me that I’m not so much a maker or creator; I’ve become more of a documenter, a collector of other people’s stories. When I drew for Vancouver Draw Down, I remembered that even my drawing ability centres around copying exactly what I see. It’s the same with my photography, I collect images of things I happen to see and want to keep the memory of for later. I feel like my imagination doesn’t kick into gear much any more – it’s lacking – or I just don’t push it enough. What do you think? Is imagination intrinsic to creativity?

My making is strictly non-fiction of late. Perhaps I should I force myself to write something fiction to test if I still have any imagination. But then am I being too hard on myself? Can you really say that either fiction or non-fiction has more creative value? I know that I really admire the art created by people that can dream up images in their head and transfer those images to their mediums. But then again, there’s the incredible street photography of Vivian Maier, which depicts everyday people, places and events. Her undeniable talent is in seeing the value in that moment and capturing it in a way that others can still feel and identify with today. Not that she intended  anyone to see it.

I’m unsure about creativity. I do feel it takes more imagination to create something from fantasy, and I don’t feel like I’ve done that in a long time. Yet, creativity and imagination don’t have to be one and the same. Even if I do wish I remembered how to use mine.

At the same time, I look at that list of ideas I just wrote and I feel satisfied and inspired. I know I am an ideas person. I have more ideas than I am able to actually complete. And generating ideas is definitely an act of creation.

Ideas 38 to 48

This idea list is also becoming somewhat of a To Do list.

Idea #38:  Pitch a video series idea to Vancouver Is Awesome. Make one video first, to show as part of the pitch. (I’ll keep the actual concept secret for now.)

Idea #39:  Go for a walk in the mornings to wake me up. And take photos. Creativity and exercise 2 in 1.

Idea #40:  Vancouver photo sets I’ve started working on: house names, view from bus stops, hedges.

Idea #41:  Do a Papergirl submission with photos from these sets or maybe a lenticular pic.

Idea #42:  I have a few awesome pictures I just got developed (soon to appear here), mostly of all the spring blossoms in local streets. I love the way photographs are being used to create digital prints in fashion lately (See this lookbook). I can imagine some throw pillows that are just big photographs, and I could make them using this technique. I could even do People I’ve Slept With pillows again! It works with laser printed images, but maybe not coated photographs. If not, there’s a simple trick of using freezer paper to put fabric through an ink-jet that Quilters have been using for years!

Idea #43:  Move this blog and People I’ve Slept With to be self hosted wordpress with their own domains. I can/should also learn how to make use of more Word Press plugins. Some important ones I saw featured at the Northern Voice 2012 conference that I recently attended were: SEO by Yoast and the Facebook plugin. I’d also like to use a lightbox for images.

Idea #44:  Then I can get letterpress business cards from Etsy with the new domains!

Other Northern Voice related ideas

Idea# 45:  Use my recently acquired lynda.com subscription to learn Ableton and Garage band so that I can add music to my audio and video docos and interviews. (Northern Voice reminded me that so many things can be learned on lynda. I’d been meaning to get it for video editing programs anyway.)

Idea #46:  Put pictures from my blog posts onto a Pinterest board. Pinterest is a huge traffic generator, I just have to learn how to best utilise it.

Other productivity ideas:

Idea #47:  Go to a coffee shop at about 3pm so I can work through a few more hours beyond when Jay gets home, instead of feeling distracted and stopping. I had been struggling with my productive time being interrupted at 5, because I work best from about 12 to 7 when I’m at home. Following the advice to remove distractions, re: Mike Vardy’s talk on blogging productivity. “People leave distractions up because it gives you an excuse to bow out.” I’m finding that at a coffee shop, I barely get up in case someone steals my laptop (Though Canadian’s are generally too honest for that). It’s too noisy for audio editing though.

Idea #48:  Use Evernote or a similar program for better lists, note taking and task management. At the moment my lists and ideas are scattered around on my Stickies, a growing number of .txt files on my desk top, some written in a book, some in the notes on my iPod Touch, and some bookmarks on Springpad. I have envisioned exactly what I want in a list making app, but hopefully I’ll find it already exists in Evernote once I give it a try.

On Birthdays

Last month I went to my first Philosophers’ Cafe. An event where attendees are encouraged to informally discuss a topic from a philosophical point of view. The topic was “Why do we celebrate birthdays?” and it inspired me to write this letter to notify my friends of my stance.

Dear Friends,

We are socially networked here today, so that I may notify you that I am not someone who remembers birthdays. I have felt a kind of disregard for the obligation of remembering birthdays for some time and have realised that it is time to share this information about myself formally.

Let me make it clear that I mean no offence. I love you all. I do wish that you do enjoy the day designated for the celebration of you and not always you alone each year. I am ever so glad that you were ever born and that you are still alive. I just probably won’t remember to tell you so on that particular day.

Because really, I wish you goodwill – everyday.

It is nice that sometimes Facebook reminds me and then I will send you a little howdy to let you know that I am thinking of you. But I think of it more as a handy reminder system of who is still on my friends list. Of those who I may not see regularly but do still think of fondly. It’s this birthday thing, the philosophy of it that I’m not sure I’m down with.

Many years ago, our lives as humans were hard. We toiled daily to survive and gained sustenance only from the food sources we worked hard to produce. Our lives were shorter, disease was often deadly and mortality was at the forefront of our existence. And so it was that we counted the years that we survived; every single number being of immense importance to us.

We were children once too. The original birthday is a beautiful celebration of a new life. The anniversary birthdays of the early years are important because children get gifts that adults wish they could play with. Children grow so quickly and the difference from one year to the next is so clear, so apparent that we must celebrate it to try to hold it there, to pin it in place right before it, and childhood is lost. We celebrate the milestones of childhood and adolescence because we pine for our own. Thus, if you have a cute small thing in your family, and Facebook, or my mother reminds me of its birthday, I will thoroughly enjoy bestowing a gift upon it. But once the appearance of ageing plateaus and milestone birthdays grow to be about a decade apart (from 22 onwards) what need do we have of birthdays?

Speaking of my mother, she is someone who acknowledges birthdays. I have developed a theory that makes her birthday-remembering history make sense. As a newlywed, she moved from Victoria to a small mining town in North West Australia and began to breed amongst other things. Being isolated from her family, she would mark all their birthdays off on a calendar every year and dedicatedly send cards. This was not unusual, of course. I have many birthday cards from family and family friends from the first decade of my life. Mum kept each and everyone for me. Birthdays functioned as a way for her to be sure that she kept in touch with everyone important to her.

Obviously, the internet has changed this, making it easier to feel linked to friends and family with a few instant sentences. But at the same time, whether it is a generational thing or not, I have a more casual approach to holding on to friendships. I’ve always been of the mind that the most wonderful friendships are the ones that you may neglect for some time, but that you know, whenever you get together again, it will be fully charged and ready to go just as you left off, all cylinders firing. And for this assurance, I don’t rely on particular dates.

Birthdays do fulfil a social function of bringing people together physically, and without them my poor mother would have to battle even harder for our regular family dinners throughout the year. Plus, birthdays are the perfect excuse to have a celebratory drink with friends.

My sister is very attached to the celebration of her birthday. I realised that this was to continue when she planned a celebration for her 22nd, after already having the typical big deal of a 21st. I try to understand why it matters. We all have birthdays. No one’s birthday is particularly more important than anyone else’s, yet why the egotistical practise of yearly self-acknowledgement? Doesn’t the fact that everyone has one, and they even double/triple/etc up, kind of nullify the importance of one’s own? One possible explanation is that without mortality as a major factor until later in life, birthdays might function to make us feel significant in our crazy, infinite world. Every single person can feel their own significant presence on Earth for just one day. And maybe that yearly reminder will inspire us to treasure life that day, and maybe even the next.

For me though, at this point in my life, the passing years are an unwelcome reminder of how far I haven’t come. But since you know me, you know I have a tendency towards pessimism, so this will come as no surprise. For a positive spin on my pessimism (ha), lets say it’s a side effect of aiming higher than is always practical to reach.

Maybe it’s gifts you want? It’s not the gift giving part of birthdays that’s a problem for me. Gift giving I really enjoy. When I find something perfect for a particular person, it makes me all warm and happy. But then there’s no escaping the societal obligations that turn that joy into anxious consumerism. If I get one sister something wonderful, I will have to find something just as amazing for other family members. If I get you something that appears to be very expensive (not very likely), you could feel obligated to get me something of the same value. And what a downer it is that giving could have such an effect.

I have met two particular people in my life that were determined to memorise birthdays. And I link this habit with other qualities they shared, to conclude that I am wary of trusting people who remember everyone’s birthday. Sure, when someone remembers your birthday you feel special, really special. Then you realise that you aren’t special because remembering birthdays is their thing. And the way they doled out friendship was the same. They knew how to give you a false sense of security in the friendship, just when you were feeling all close and cosy and ready to divulge your secrets, you realised that that was how they treated everyone. It’s like the gimmick of a car salesman who constantly addresses you by name. You’re going to end up duped.

So, in summation, if I don’t remember your birthday, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. If I find a gift that makes me think especially just of you, I may save it for your birthday, or I might give it to you tomorrow. If you have a birthday cake at our shared workplace, I will most delightedly eat it. If we go out for drinks I may even buy you a shot. But if you don’t work with me or invite me to your party, and I don’t log into Facebook that day, I will probably forget.

Please take this letter to wish you a Happy Anniversary of Your Birth when the day comes and an ongoing Happy Existence.

Much love,

Hannah

PS If you should like to acknowledge my birthday, all wishes will be welcomed. Especially those that come in the post!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 381 other followers