Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ai Weiwei by Ryan Emond

I was commissioned by the City of Toronto to shoot and edit a video documenting the installation of Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. This project, for me, was one that when you sleep you dream about it—fully immersed. Living it; breathing it; I watched the structure come alive from the ground up and I feel honoured to have been given that opportunity. 3,144 bicycles, the most Weiwei has used of this work to date, were stacked 100 feet in length and 30 feet high in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square.

Upon receiving news that I was chosen, it was hard to do anything other than immediately start planning. My mind was bursting with ideas. Ai Weiwei has been an inspiration since my first trip to Beijing a couple years ago, after visiting Galerie Urs Meile and 798 Art Zone. I was thrilled to document such an important international artist’s work. The thought of the possibility of him seeing my work after being so enchanted by his was amongst my main motivations while completing the project. 

As I was filming, I wanted to make sure I showed how the small parts of the overall structure were so important. To do this, I highlighted the individual tools during the slow motion segment of the video - they were surprisingly modest; basically just a wrench, some bolts, and a lot of tedious and skilful work. This construction team was beyond impressive. In many projects like this the process is often lost in the beauty and awe of the final structure. It was an inspiring experience to be able to watch the process go from the ground up. I can imagine what a wonderful feeling the team had when they were building a structure to be enjoyed by so many. It was a pleasure getting to know you all. Great work! 

The project was definitely one of the most important I have ever worked on. The amount of human effort by some and enjoyment by others is incalculable – and it all came from one man's idea. The days following the big night I found myself returning to the structure for inspiration on the edit. I feel like I have developed a very personal connection with the piece. Thank you Ai Weiwei for reminding me how passionate I can become in the right situation. Thank you to my family and friends for keeping me sane during the all nighters (this entire video was shot and edited in 20 days) and thank you to the City of Toronto for trusting me with such an important process and giving me full creative control. It was a pleasure to work with you all. A big thank you as well to Kenneth Vinyaratn ( for assisting me for a few days on this, you were a huge help!

The installation will be on exhibit from October 6 to 27, 2013 -

Music by the very talented Mokhov:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Words from a migrant worker

We live off the accumulated social capital bequeathed to us by previous generations. Let us not delude ourselves with the thinking that "we worked for what we have". None of us could possibly pay for our children's education, the legal framework, the social services, the physical infrastructure, the medical services, etc.
From our very privileged perch as citizens and permanent residents there are so many  things we can do to reciprocate, to help out, to contribute to future generations. Working with migrant workers is just one of them.
Recorded Nov 15th, University Centre, University of Guelph.

Hate and Love

from one of my favourite blogs

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vintage Vase

November 16th.

Vintage Candleholder

November 16th.

BlackBerry Diaries #736: Ash-e Reshteh: Persian Noodle Soup, by Mary

When you really think about it, a good life can be distilled down to a handful of things: meals created from scratch with love and devotion, enjoyed with family and friends, decent health, and communal good works.
Olive oil, onions, salt, turmeric, black pepper, parsley, green onions, spinach, vegetable stock, water, dried lentils, kidney beans navy beans, garbanzo beans, linguini, garlic, ground saffron, kashk (like a yogurt).

Friday, November 14, 2014

The last rose of 2014

As I was cleaning out ("deadheading") the dried, brown shells of a once-full and vigorous Hydrangea bush, I came across this, the last rose of 2014. Shielded from the winds and the frosty mornings of late October and early November, this rose managed to stay warm. November 13th.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Boxing with Ben

Ben boxing against Grant Watson, a visiting Scottish Boxer from the Gilmerton Boxing Club, Dunderall Scotland. Ben is fighting for the Orangeville Boxing Club, BigTyme Fitness and Boxing... trained by Bryon Mackie, former Canadian light middleweight Champion. circa 2003-2007

BlackBerry Diaries #735: Nest silhouette

Macallister Park, November 13th.

BlackBerry Diaries #734: First Guelph snow for 2014-2015

November 13th.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day on the 11th, Foreboding Day on the 12th

Today is almost over, more "untold" stories from the two World Wars (especially and more often, from WWI) have just been told, and the Federal government is just wrapping up its orgy of myth/nation-building. The memory of the horrific and unimaginable sacrifices by soldiers, in any war and IN any conflict, somehow gets lost amid the grandstanding and pomp of our politicians, particularly this year, who have used these last few days to bask in reflected glory, and to advance ideas of military intervention, in eastern Europe and in the Middle East. Interventions that don't take in a holistic view of the conflicts, but rather,  short term actions that touch on the symptoms but not the causes, of these conflicts. Short term is easy, long term is hard work and messy.
Arguably, Remembrance Day, to me, is the most significant holiday of the year. The only two words that need to be uttered on Nov 11th are: Never Again. But of course, things happen, again, and again. Our collective DNA is  hard-wired with instructions to go to war, to fight, to self-destruct even, as a society. 
"Lest We Forget". But we always, always  forget, the very next day.

So I suggest another holiday, right after November 11th. Let's call it Foreboding Day. Just after the warm, fuzzy, glow of bagpipes and wreath-laying, emotional stories and veterans' interviews, we need a  shock to our system. Remembering the past is useless, even dangerous, when we delude ourselves that we won't repeat the past. We always do.
Foreboding means, "implying or seeming to imply that something bad is going to happen". Well, somethings are happening: resource wars (all the wars right now are for resources) brought on by drought and dwindling resources. Famines, disappearance of species, outbreaks of hitherto rare/dormant diseases, are attributable to, in whole or in part, to global warming. Population displacement, environmental degradation, the list goes on.
Foreboding Day is NOT a waystation on any Doomsday Clock. The Doomsday Clock is a half-empty glass. Foreboding Day is a half-full goblet. There is always hope, and there are many of us who do small things and big things... but there's not enough of us. 
November 12, Foreboding Day: a day dedicated to shocking us out of our stupor, denials, and inadequate empathy.

BlackBerry Diaries #732: Blues and Greens and Turquoise

November 11th.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Event photography to honour the former Premier of Ontario: The Right Honorable William "Bill" Davis. Rose Theatre, Brampton, ON

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shane Philips and the Monarch with the broken wing

While on a break on a video shoot in a cornfield for Shane's "Freedom", this monarch butterfly with a mortally-torn wing dropped in. On the spot, David and Shane composed a little song to mourn, and celebrate, this fragile creature