Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Think I dress weird now? Look at me then...

I was 5 when my grandmother crushed my dreams of becoming a famous singer when she said: "Erin you can't sing." After crying myself to sleep that night, I woke up the next morning and decided I wanted to be an artist. Then at the age of 10, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer. There it went back and forth artist, fashion designer, artist, fashion designer until 2001 when I discovered that I could be both! For my Fine Arts thesis, I made wearable art.

My line of wearable art created to address women's issues was called F Yu Couture. The title plays on the idea of feminism as a swear word. Lets face it, even in 2010, 9 years after I created the pieces it still is. More people than not, regardless of their education, have no idea what "feminist" means and cringe at the word. I won't divulge too deep into the subject but for the record a feminist is one that believes women deserve social, economic and political equality. That's all. I hope that all that I am acquainted with ARE feminists.

My favourite piece out of the series was the "Stay Away Coat" as seen below. I sewed the coat out of shiny black vinyl and punctured it with over 200 2 inch nails. The coat represents the daily "armor" a woman puts on. Don't cat call me. Don't hit on me. Don't hurt me. I'm thinking of pulling this one out for Friday and Saturday nights living in down town Toronto...

Other pieces focused on stereotypes and explored labels- sluts, prudes, the "Wonder Woman" (one who takes on the roles of homemaker, mother, wife, worker).

And only because I promised... Here I am in my couture- a dress defaced with text from Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When I was a young, I made porn

Among other things. Most famously, I made a porn.

Recently I have been looking through art that I made 10 or more years ago. I have been painting since I was 6, and I went to Western for Fine Art. I have a lot of art. Incredibly, I have found my old work a great source of inspiration. My ideas were untainted then, perhaps more original. Some projects are even worth continuing or redoing.

Hand Job, my first video project created in 1999 is a porn spoof. It isn't particularly silly, in fact you will probably blush when you watch it.  It's embarrassing, which is why it works. I have questioned posting it. I tried to edit my name out of the credits, which are written in a font so perversely close to Comic Sans it makes me cringe. Sadly, I no longer have the original VIDEO TAPE that it was made on, and this poor digital copy refuses to let me edit it. So be it. In a way its roughness lends itself perfectly to amateur porn. So here it is, rough, rude and ridiculous- my stint in Porn.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Why would you waste vacation time on making art?"

I told a friend of mine tonight that I was going to spend a week of vacation at the cottage making art. He looked at me and said "Why would you waste vacation time on that?" I was shocked by the blow. Instantly deflated. Vacation time IS precious and I don't believe in spending a single day on "relaxing" or hangovers or other such things that my friends allocate vacation days to. I dream about travelling all year long. I yearn to seek out and discover new places. I don't own my own condo or have a nice car. I have invested all my free time and money into travelling. I have chosen to live life to the fullest and I don't regret it. If I could, I would spend a good many weeks per year exploring the earth. But today, TODAY, I have only three weeks per year. I have chosen to spend one of these weeks at the cottage with my mom creating art. We will head up with armfulls of canvases and paints, sketch books and pencils. We will listen to RECORDS circa the 1970's on the record player. We will swim and boat when it is hot. We will paint on the rooftop dock overlooking the lake, drink wine and watch art and horror movies in the evening. We will create.

Is this a "waste" of vacation time? It is not *my* average vacation. Part of me feels the pain of reducing the length of a potential trip to Argentina to accomodate my "art retreat". But I could NOT skip out on this trip. Taking a week to create art seems like less of a choice than a necessity. I NEED this week. I NEED to relocate the love I once had for painting. I NEED to make art for art sake.

Monday, August 9, 2010


It's coming. It's time. The blog is currently being redesigned and resurrected. The Erin Askew blog will be host to many new brain farts very soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Social Media (a.k.a. plugging yourself in)

Yes it is true. We are not alone. Not anymore. Why brave the frighteningly vast cyber universe en seule when you can have company? We are social creatures after all. Such was the subject of our latest multimedia pioneering talk by Wayne MacPhail.

The year is 2008, we are now mid voyage in a a cyber odyssey. Web 2.0 has all but taken over. Everything is suddenly clean and clear and crisp. Paths are easily drawn and followed. Extensive tagging and bookmarking mark the trail. We have discovered it is possible to live on the Internet.

The average facebook user is on for 17 minutes a day. The rest of the time in undoubtedly spent on twitter or myspace,, linkedin or digg. Here we are invited to make new connections, reconnect with the lost or just generally stay connected. Due to these new social media devices we all have more friends then ever before. Take facebook for example. I've been a member for about a year now. I have 148 friends and counting. But how many friends do I really have? What constitutes a friend? Are their different levels of friendship? I recently invited 42 people to my birthday party. These are people that I actually see outside of school/work. Now out of these I would say about 10 are what I would consider to be close friends. People I either chat with online frequently or speak to on the phone and actually do social things with. Does that make the others are mere acquaintances? Or should there be a new term for them like "cyber friends"? Some of them exist only in certain worlds for me, at school, snowboarding or kiteboarding. Some of them exist only on facebook for me. We may have been friends once but we will never meet again. Never really care again. My old friend from university found me and added me on facebook, we were the greatest of friends once. She is now married with a 6 month old daughter. I still recall the old friendship and invite her for dinner, parties, the opera. But she can't really exist outside of facebook. I know this now. Our worlds are too different. She will only ever be a cyber friend. Perhaps I should invite her to twitter....

Nobody really reads in the cyber universe. We are all too busy scanning and filtering information. Where would I be without my google homepage and its convenient rss feeds? How would we know what is happening in that strange domain we call reality if it wasn't for the news feeds in our google reader letting us know?

We can live happy fulfilled lives without ever having to speak to anyone. The shy, the introverted, the hopelessly unhappy can be reborn and live a different life on second life. Here we can virtually date, explore, buy virtual goods, and fall in love. Really, a brave new world. Sounds pretty geeky really but anyone can see the appeal. Where do I sign up?

Of course the question is do these things actually make us more social? Or do they just offer a place to hide? A way to avoid physical interaction? Why call when you can type? Why visit when you can just click on a profile? Everything in moderation I suppose. Who knows, but without facebook would I have had 28 happy birthday wishes? No, of course not I would have had 10.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From Dino's to Nessies

On Friday we visited the ROM to meet with the director of New Media, Brian Porter. Our journey took us from the Jurassic era to the modern world. We began in the digital gallery playing with the installed touch screen based computers designed to give children an interactive learning experience. These screens allow the user to choose between Egyptian or Canadian historical explorations. Within each of the respective selections the user was then able to choose an artifact, zoom in or out as well as rotate it to see a complete 360 degree view of all of its sides. The digital gallery also housed a 3 projector based screen to display accompanying films created by the media department as a teaching device for chosen topics.

Next we moved on to the new dinosaur exhibit to visit Gordo, the infamous Barosauraus and his skeletal friends. The new crystal structure that houses the new home of the dinos has been the subject of much architectural controversy. I for one am a fan of the new space and I love the look of the crystal addition. It is like a metaphor of the ROM itself. The crystal represents the emergence of old and new technologies in a way that demonstrates to the viewer that both are necessary and meaningful.

The dinosaur gallery also offered interactive kiosks for visitors to view information on the creatures. These new kiosks were very slick looking with a very Apple like design. They were only single touch screens though, not the fantastic new multi touch experiences that have been making headlines. I found the navigational buttons unnecessarily small, which would definitely make the experience more challenging for small children or visually impaired people. Brian mentioned that it is still a work in progress, perhaps they are still working out display issues. I was quite surprised to learn that the kiosks were designed by Overdrive Design , a company that I have previously worked with during my time designing at Karbon. What a great client to have. Of course I had to immediately send a message to James Wilson, the owner of Overdrive to congratulate him on landing such a gig and for a job well done. I think sometimes we forget to praise and instead focus on criticism.

After our ROM experience we employed the ancient form of transportation, walking, and made our way to Steve Mann's studio at Dundas and McCaul. Steve Mann is well known for his ventures as a cyborg. Indeed, he was wearing his fantastic eye piece which displays content directly to his eye via a laser. I'm not quite sure how it works but I imagine it would be along the same lines of these experimental internet displaying contacts. Speaking of eyes, he mentioned that within the next 5-10 years we would be downloading our eye prescriptions from the internet which will electronically adjust as needed. I'm not sure about this, wouldn't it just be easier for us all to get laser eye surgery and permanently correct the problem?

The main attraction of our visit was his hydraulophone. This water organ produced impressive sound quality and was fun for everyone. It seems to bring out the kid in everyone. Who wouldn't like the idea of actually playing with a fountain? It is truly a great interactive invention. What a great way to excite people and encourage them to interact and learn with their environment. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the tadpole shaped Nessies in parks and public areas soon.

All in all we had a great day of visiting multimedia pioneering in action. Hopefully can generate some inspiration from this and apply it to our own plethora of projects.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moving towards Mobile

In today's multimedia pioneering class we had James Eberhardt as a speaker. The discussion topic was mobile.

It is really fascinating that the world of mobile browsing really hasn't changed very much in the the last 20 years. Many of us are still hesitant to use any of the communication features additional to voice calls on the phone, mainly due to the fact that other forms of communication just aren't very user friendly. Even with T9, I personally find texting a huge pain. Keypading long messages is very time consuming and frustrating. I do use it in certain circumstances- when hearing/ making noise is a problem, and to avoid expensive day time charges. It fascinates me that many people would rather use the cumbersome text function than make a call. This is probably due to its additional function- that it serves as a way to avoid actually connecting with someone and keep the interaction less personal. When will we see an easier way to mobile computing than typing on annoyingly small devices?

I was quite disappointed to hear that Flash lite 3.0 is not Actionscript 3.0 compatible. Why would this be? It was so recently released (October 2007), significantly after the introduction of AS3 to Flash. The discovery of this drawback is quite an annoyance. I find it comparable to the incompatibility of Internet Explorer to web standards. Wouldn't it be nice if one day if we were able to keep up with all our changing technology? Is it too much to ask for a technology synched world?

One of the newer developments that I find to be a step in the right direction are the 2D bar codes. Of course, this forces everyone to have a camera phone (why did I think that was unnecessary at the time I bought my phone?) But still, it will make mobile browsing on our tiny devices a heck of a lot easier. Think of the possibilities of relevant information at just one click. TTC/metro routes and schedules saved, directions or details to a store or event advertised in a newspaper or poster campaign. The possibilities are exciting and infinite. This new development will create a greater need for the cell phone and may convert those still holding back from this important technology. Yes, hard to believe that not everyone has a cell phone. I'm not sure why not. What is the use of a home phone when a cell phone is personal and mobile? I haven't had a land line since 2001 and I certainly don't miss it.

James also mentioned the use of GPS in mobile devices and some really nifty software to go along with it. This is a technology too expensive for my modest budget right now but I would definitely be interested in it. I especially love the idea of the sports tracker software. Although I am not a jogger, I would love to use something similar to track my snowboarding runs. While I would never go out of my way to purchase a GPS device solely for this purpose, it is something that I would use if the option actually came with my cell phone. Or perhaps I should hold out until more developments in ambient intelligence are made.

Speaking of cell phone add ins, if the future is to bring us a chance to minimize the number of gadgets we all have by providing us with something multi-purpose, I am all for it. I am sure that I am not the only one who feels that there are just too many THINGS in my life. That's right, I said THINGS. Recently I was forced to downsize in order to move my many things into a tiny condo of less than 600 sq ft. That's 600 sq ft/ 2 people. In the downsize I discovered old cell phones, manual film cameras, a Polaroid camera, automatic cameras, an old digital camera, an old printer, a zip drive, cd burner, hard drive, endless ac adapters, remotes etc. And this was just the electronic stuff. Not only have my "necessary" purchases helped to fill up landfills in our already dwindling environment but these remains of times/technologies past have only helped to increase my own personal stress by their accumulation in my house. If we can indeed transform our gadgets to be multi-purpose, I'm sure we'll all be better for it. The iPhone is a good start, but we can do more.