sabotabby: (anarcat)
Here, have a buttload of new pictures. As much as I want to fix my image hosting issues to be able to embed photos, I have to admit this is kind of easier while travelling.

We had a full last day. Went to the Pinchuk Art Centre, which has to be the strangest art gallery I've ever visited. As in you need to go through a metal detector to get in. There's a massive exhibition on right now featuring such luminaries as Marina Abramovich, Ai Weiwei, Damien Hirsch, and more. The Abramovich piece involved a blindfold, noise-cancelling headphones, and putting yourself at the mercy of other gallery-goers and guides. I noped right out of there after first a game of patty cake, then being patted on the head. I am not very badass or good with vulnerability, and I suspect I would not last long as a political prisoner, incidentally.

Actually, I thought the Ukrainian artists featured in the show were, on the whole, more impressive than the well-known international artists. There was quite a bit focusing on Chernobyl, economic restructuring during and after the Soviet era, and the trauma of war.

We passed the Mother Motherland monument on the way back from the airport, so we decided we had to get a closer look. Of course, the skies chose that precise time to open and pour forth and incredible thunderstorm, so we didn't get that close as we weren't out for that long. But I actually really like how my photos of it came out; you can see the massive scale, and it's all grey and mysterious.

It was impossible to leave Ukraine without a final round of sour cherry vareniki. We also had a flight of mysterious alcohols, ranging from "great enough that I bought some to take home" to "OH GOD OH GOD MY EYES THEY'RE ON FIRE." Or, as the Russians say, "gadost," which is my second new favourite word. I asked Anya for a translation and she said, "covfefe." But it means something gross and filthy. I am not sure what I drank but some involved horseradish?

I fly back home tomorrow. From what I glean from the news, it's about the right time to be GTFO of Eastern Europe.


Jul. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I meant for this to be two separate posts: one for the fun stuff, one for the Ninth Fort, which is the most harrowing, emotionally devastating place I have visited since Buchenwald. But of course image hosting isn't cooperating, so unfortunately at the moment, if you want to see the fun pictures, you will also have to see the depressing pictures (which I promise aren't actually that bad, as I only really took exterior shots that are only disturbing if you know the context). This said, here is the gallery, and content/trigger warning for some of the photos being of a place where 30,000-50,000 people were murdered.

(Of course, I have no idea if you can even view the photos. I really need to work out my image hosting issues. Flickr is an impossibility at the moment while I'm out of Canada.)

Anyway! I'm sure somewhere in your mind, you were wondering about the fact that I keep posting pictures of pretty buildings and lovely, walkable cities. Admit it--you expected a bit more Soviet brutalist and you were wondering where it was. The answer is that it's all in Kaunas. Kaunas does have a cute Old Town but the stuff we wanted to see wasn't there, and where we're staying is pure 1960s poured cement. I will admit a slight fondness for it, though I wouldn't want to live there.

Our first stop was the Devil's Museum, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an excellent collection of devils of all sorts. Our one criticism is that the gift shop was missing some obvious opportunities as it practically didn't exist.

Then we went across the street to the museum of M. K. Ciurlionis, a Symbolist artist and composer. Cool, not the most exciting, but some lovely work.

We also rode a funicular, which is kind of like an amusement ride except not very good. But it's one of my favourite words now.

The main event was going about a half-hour outside town to the Ninth Fort. It's an early 20th century fort that became a hard labour camp, then a transfer point for deportations to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, then basically a killing field under the Nazis. The second time the Soviets occupied the country, they turned it into a vast and ghastly monument to the victims of fascism, which subsequently was expanded to include evidence of their own crimes after Lithuania's independence.

I can't really describe it to you properly. Unless you've been in the remnants of a concentration camp or similar, you won't be able to get what it's like to stand in a place that is well and truly haunted by the unquiet dead. The museum consists of one building that's an overview of the atrocities committed on the premises, but focusing mainly on the Soviet occupation, several vast, giant sculptures and plaques describing the Nazi massacres, and the fort itself, which shows prison cells, interrogation rooms, a recreation of a Kaunas Ghetto house, and informational rooms with the requisite belongings of the victims. It's cold, and damp, and good luck ever not feeling that bone-deep chill again. Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

Anyway we coped really well after, which is to say I had 1/3 of a bottle of wine and I'm just about shaking history from my head. Tomorrow it's back to Kiev, and then home.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
We rolled into Vilnius, Lithuania just before 10 pm last night after a four-hour long bus ride. It was pouring rain, which is typical for here (apparently the weather is awful in one way or another at least 60% of the time), and late, so we grabbed dinner at a vegetarian bar and crashed out at the hotel. Today, it was supposed to pour--our cab driver assured us that this time, the entire city would be flooded--but our luck held and we were able to do a walking tour of the Old Town and the Republic of Užupis.

Vilnius has a messy, dilapidated charm. I think, perhaps, my lack of bonding with Riga was due to the fact that it's kept in such good repair; letting a city crumble a bit is much more aesthetically pleasing. It's slightly less Westernized--people here speak Russian as much as they do English, though mainly Lithuanian--and just, well, weirder.

photos )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (design)
You never hear about art feuds anymore, which is unfortunate, but luckily Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple are here to correct that deficiency. You may recall Anish Kapoor as the guy who secured the sole rights to the "blackest black" pigment—the one all the goths hoped would be used to make their clothes from now on—and wouldn't let anyone else use it.

In retaliation, Semple created the "pinkest pink," and made available on his website for purchase by anyone who was not Kapoor.

But OH NOES! Kapoor got it anyway and posted this glorious picture to Instagram.

Semple was outraged, and expressed his concern as follows:

We are all extremely disappointed to see that Anish Kapoor has illegally acquired the world’s pinkest pink. He’s walked into this paint war with a gesture that cannot be misconstrued. He’s given the art community a bright pink middle finger. He is still very much at large. Not only has he refused to share the black, he’s now stolen our pink. Rest assured, we will get to the bottom of who has purchased this on Anish Kapoor’s behalf and broken their contractual agreement with, and we will instruct our lawyers to take appropriate action against such breaches. We are pleased to note that he has not managed to get his hands on the World’s Glitteriest Glitter—yet—and we urge purchasers not to share the product with Kapoor or his associates.

Reportedly, he then got his hands on the black (or, well, got the black on his hands.)

There is rumoured to be fanfic written about this but I didn't find it when I totally didn't go looking for it.

Anyway this is clearly the greatest feud in art history since Van Gogh versus Gauguin, and I believe both of these gentlemen deserve our praise for lightening up the otherwise dismal end to this year.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (manic pixie nightmare girl)
I went wandering with [ profile] metalana and took a bunch of pictures, and then she sent me filters and I made artsy photos. You might like them.

More photos. Not quite so weird. )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (tentacle porn)
At least, I think he's finished. I never know when to call it a day on stuff, but I started to add more texture and it looked like shit so I painted over it and liked my anyway.

I think it's done.


(Note that the lens flare on the left is actual light, not the painting. You can probably tell but just in case.)

Some details, 'cause I really like the texture:


I've been surprisingly creatively productive on break, given my intention to do nothing over the break but drink, lie on the couch, and watch Netflix with my cats. I also spent much of the morning working on my character bio for Ehdrigohr, oddly also involving tentacled horrors of the deep, and managing to unsettle me as I was writing him.

This is a friendly cosmic horror.

Now I'm going to cook and shit.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (hand tardis)
You might celebrate something else, but today is Pajamas Day for me, wherein I am fucking around the house making up for a lack of slack time and an excess of having to wear pants in my life.

I did some more arts. [ profile] katebacross requested Who characters made by the Star Wars team. I am 99% sure I have seen this concept tackled by people with far more technical and creative talent than me but I couldn't resist. It's just a quick sketch because I know I can't do it proper justice anyway.

really quick )

Then I did proper art. Kinda. I've been neglecting my space octopus and one of my goals was to rectify this.

lurking in the deep )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (crazy cat lady)
I'm trying to do something vaguely creative during my vacation, but I haven't done any art since the summer so I'm feeling a bit rusty.

So I drew my cats as people. )

Drop your suggestions for more silly things for me to draw, paint, or write in the comments.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)

I'm against hate speech.

I'm against murdering people for making cartoons.

I'm against attacking people in retaliation for murders that they had nothing to do with.

I'm against the climate of xenophobia in France, which is, among other things, fallout from France's colonialist history.

I'm also side-eyeing the fact that there was nowhere near this level of international outcry or media coverage of the murders of 145 Pakistani children massacred and suspect it was because they weren't white Westerners.

(For context, this is a useful thing to read. Not substantially different than Nazi anti-Semitic cartoons of the 1930s. But they shouldn't have been killed over it, obviously.)

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (design)

I think she is finally done. I left her a little rough around the edges, but I dunno, kind of works? If it were Photoshop I'd slap a texture on there.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

I haven't painted in over a year, but I finished reading a whack of policy so I rewarded myself by working on this gal.

Read more... )

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (design)
Thanks everyone for your post suggestions. There are still more days of the month than prompts, so if you'd like to request something, head on over here. Also if you'd like to suggest a better title than "Blogcember," I'm all ears.

[ profile] metawidget asked about painting of the arty sort. I'm not sure I have anything really profound to say about painting. What I like about painting is that it's not very profound for me. As some of you know, I utterly agonize over most of the things I do—writing, teaching, freelance work, attempts to pick up playing piano again—painting is pretty much the one thing that I've been reasonably good at for a long period of time that I can do competently without thinking about it too hard. I put on music, I work sloppily, and I completely turn off the part of my brain that is a constant anxiety-ridden monologue for a few hours at a time.

I paint in acrylic, though lately I've been tempted to take up watercolour again, which I haven't done since I was a kid. I like acrylic because it's immediate. I went through a phase where I used palette knives and fingers rather than brushes, but now I'm back to brushes. I prefer to work on large works over small works, though when I was off work and in tons of pain, small works were the only sort I could do.

There's not a lot of deep meaning to any of my work. It's usually just stuff that I think looks cool. The painting I'm currently working on is a woman I saw at Black Creek Pioneer village; I thought she looked like she stepped out of a painting, so I snapped a picture on my cell and I'm working from that.

Unlike writing, where I really do need to be in a certain frame of mind (and I'm hardly ever in that frame of mind), I actually can force myself to paint. The fact that I don't do it more often has to do with time and hassle rather than inspiration.

Once I'm finished with a painting, I seldom want to look at it. There are three exceptions, two of which are hanging in my house:

1) A still life I did in undergrad. It's a gas mask, an old army boot, and a bottle of wine. It's about being prepared for whatever comes your way, a.k.a. the zombie apocalypse, and I have it hanging in my bedroom because it matches the colour scheme.
In Advance )

2) A portrait I did of the first male non-relative I saw completely naked. Which is to say one of our life drawing models in high school. (I was an innocent teenager.) He's clothed in this painting, though. It's very stiff and Victorian and it looks exactly like him. By the way, he was a really cool guy and often hung out at the coffee shop with us after sessions, and he was into the Church of the Subgenius. That one's in my living room, and I actually chose the colour of the living room to match the painting.
The Gambler )

3) This street scene I did, one of my palette-knife-only paintings. It was based on a photograph that I took before there were digital cameras; essentially I shot the feet of the two people I was with, and it was blurry, and for some reason I decided to paint it. I was going through a very angry phase, and the process was violent; the sense I get from looking at it is that it's the feet of people mid-riot. I'd have hung it in my house but it really doesn't match the decor.
Things Got Out of Hand )

So that's painting. I do a lot more illustration these days; less clean-up and I get paid for it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (gother than fuck)
Had a great deal of fun at Nuit Blanche last night. We hit Moonlight Tribe, which involved bellydancing, the Charleston, and can-can, as well as live goth music that was quite good, and No Blue Jeans, No Nice Sweaters, No Big Bop Rejects, a.k.a. the Goth Flash Mob at midnight. Just like back in the old days, they played two good songs, both by the Sisters of Mercy, and a whole bunch of crap. It was lovely.

Ran into a bunch of friends and co-workers over the course of the evening, and missed many more. Missed the Ai Weiwei installation as well; I am perhaps too old and tired to hang out at all-night art events that are spread across most of the city.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sabo-kitty)
Today was another exciting day at Mini Maker Faire. On the downside, I was really tired and the Christie bus was not as cooperative as it was yesterday in terms of getting me there at a reasonable hour and it was even more crowded than yesterday. On the plus side, a lot more of my friends were in attendance. I only caught one talk, which was about video remixing—something I'm interested in, but unfortunately the project in question was a bit weaksauce.

One of the groups that wasn't there yesterday makes life-size, functional Star Wars droids, because why not?

r2d2 photo 993337_10153275746480612_1012207130_n_zps08d22b96.jpg

droids photo 1017483_10153275743420612_1136920734_n_zps99efecac.jpg

 photo 1185022_10153275923540612_1982829483_n_zps0bd4fd1f.jpg
As far as I can tell, this was just a sculpture, but it was pretty cool.

mechanical hand photo 1236641_10153275927990612_3521896_n_zps37ec37ca.jpg
A mechanical hand. Again, if you can, why wouldn't you?

 photo 1186129_10153275533255612_318433526_n_zps5479157b.jpg
A lockpicking workshop for kids seems a bit Oliver Twist to me, but hey, I don't judge.

This was my favourite: liquid nitrogen ice cream. It's badass and tasty:

ice cream 1 photo 599292_10153275540700612_421003325_n_zpsda1e5caf.jpg

ice cream 2 photo 1237040_10153275575820612_2044516511_n_zps472535a4.jpg

If you're wondering, it tastes just like regular ice cream, but it has smoke rising from it.

Not pictured: laser tag, various arcades, and all of the 3D printed stuff.

I am completely exhausted but it was so worthwhile.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (d is for dirigible)
I spent today at Toronto Mini Maker Faire, held at Wychwood Barns. There was some incredibly cool stuff on display; largely 3D printers and Arduino, but also robots, glass-blowing, fire, music, and miscellaneous awesomeness.

Sorry for the crappy quality of these photos; I took them with my cell. It wouldn't have done much good to haul my actual camera there, since it was quite crowded and it was already fairly hard to juggle all the stuff I was picking up, plus my umbrella and cane.

 photo 1374080_10153271814825612_264167815_n_zpsa999e7d4.jpg
Here's a vintage typewriter modified to tweet whatever you type on it.

weevil eye photo 1157591_10153272361005612_1722107102_n_zpsb0d99596.jpg
I re-learned how to solder by making this little guy, called the Weevil Eye. He has a light sensor, so his LED eyes light up when it's dark (or when you create a shadow by waving a hand or other object over the sensor). Not sure what I'm going to do with him other than use him to demonstrate circuitry and soldering to my kids, but I think he'd make a good brooch.

I sat in on a number of interesting talks. I caught most of one by the Toronto Tool Library, which—I am so happy about this—is opening up a makerspace down the street from me. The talk was mostly about post-scarcity economics and politically quite up my alley, so I went up to them and introduced myself afterwards and signed up for their mailing list. The space opens in a few weeks. It'll be great for me because it's close enough that I can easily drop by after school—much more convenient than Site3—but it's also a potential field trip to take my kids on.

alex's rainbow gun photo 1234424_10153272049715612_1742952378_n_zps5e073a47.jpg
This was a talk by Alex Leitch about her flamethrower that shoots rainbow fire. She estimates that this current incarnation of the Rainbow Gun is about 60% to completion. It was a talk that was very relevant to my interests.

creepy severed head on a table photo 535899_10153272224855612_71467611_n_zps4741498e.jpg
This actually wasn't at Maker Faire, but across the street. I think it's an interesting way for a hairdresser to advertise.

I also scored an utterly gorgeous blown glass tentacle necklace, which I'm wearing at the moment. The one obviously non-electronics person there was a woman who makes sea creature glass jewellery with a blowtorch. It was nice stuff but not totally up my alley—lots of hearts and fish. On a lark, I asked her if she made any with tentacles and it turned out that she had a pile of tentacles that for whatever reason she didn't put on display. Because there's no way anyone at a Maker Faire would be interested in tentacles.

I also got filmed for two separate TV shows. So, uh. I might be on TV. Hopefully they'll contact me so I can post it in a locked post and you can share my utter embarrassment.

Anyway, it was a fabulous day. It was one of those crowds where it was cool to strike up a random conversation with anyone (in my case, generally anyone sitting next to me or hanging out at an interesting display) and they would turn out to be completely fascinating. I made a few good contacts and generally came out feeling exhausted by excited. Looking forward very much to tomorrow.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (scriabin)
Electronic music. Communism. Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin. Futurism. Alchemy and the occult.

There are a few times that I've wished that I were more mechanically and musically inclined. Alas, I lack the talent to ever build one, though given that it's played by drawing, I'm pretty sure I could actually play one.

ETA: Here it is being played (starts at around 4:17):

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (abortion)
Via [ profile] fengi"

I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

-Kevin Swanson, host of "the world’s largest homeschooling and Biblical worldview radio program". Source

In case you need a visual, here is a needlessly morbid self-portrait drawn after six years or so of being on the birth control pill:

fetal graveyard photo fetalgraveyard_zps7feb19e2.jpg
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bones by arianadii)
Sadistic bees drink human tears has to be one of my favourite headlines ever. The Lasioglossum gotham—best name ever—which lives in Thailand, digs your salty, delicious grief:

“The experience was rather unpleasant, causing strong tear flow,” the authors wrote in the 2009 study published in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. “Once a bee had settled and more were approaching, these tended to settle near each other in a row. Closing the eye did not necessarily dislodge bees but some continued to suck at the slit. They were even able to find and settle at closed eyes.”


So I did a silly painting about it )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (commiebot)
MY GOD YOU GUYS I AM SO TIRED. Totally worth it. But I feel like I'm going to sleep for a year and do nothing but watch TV and read cheesy fantasy novels for a bit.

Today's panels:

The Circuits of Labour and Capital. Translation: Migrant labour, and I chose this one both out of interest and because I knew three out of the five people involved. Alas, two didn't show (including the one who's in 2 Revolución). The other two were really good, though.

Marxist Aesthetics and Utopia. This was the perfect note to end on. Relevant to my interests in a big way, and we got into a debate about Tatlin's Monument to the Third International that ended up going way overtime and summarizing many of the themes in the conference as a whole. I Googled the presenter, Travis English, and I think he might also be the guy who does all of those cool minimalism posters that you see all over the intertubes. Not sure. Anyway, the discussion induced pangs in me because when I was thinking about grad school, I was thinking about working on Russian Constructivism stuff, which is at the intersection of art, design, and radical politics. Also, I love Monument to the Third International. It's brilliant on every level, encompassing both the power of the theory of dialectical materialism and the fragility of the revolutionary moment. And as someone pointed out in the discussion, as much as it was a failure in the sense that it was never built, given the history of the Russian revolution, it might have been more of a failure if it had been built. As an ethereal work that exists in the imagination instead of in reality, it's a more powerful symbol of revolutionary potential than if it existed as an actual physical object.

I shouldn't be so surprised to find out that people have Photoshopped the hell out of what it would have looked like if built.

SPEAKING OF SCULPTURE! Bad sculpture, this time. I failed utterly for the third day in a row to capture the glory that is the dick sculptures. However, I realized I could just Google it, and so here they are:

Fontana d'Italia by Enzo Cucchi.

Notice that the water is jetting out in the photo. In reality, it drizzles down the shaft and looks more like this. Ah, York. How much I do not miss you at all.

Anyway, all in all the conference was even better than my already inflated expectations, and I'm so glad I went. I think this is the longest I've been consistently in a good mood since Maggie's diagnosis.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittensquee)
I made arts. Completely silly arts; basically just experimenting with collage techniques in this one:

moderately NSFW )

I think it's done? I can never tell when anything's done.

This is why I get no writing done:



sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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