Saturday, 29 December 2012

Underwater Records and Acheivements in 2012


Diving into the past – Important 2012 underwater  milestones and of course the dubious records
Ignore what Captain Kirk said.  In 2012 the last frontier was underwater.

Never in the history of the planet has mankind ventured so far under the surface.  And, in pushing the underwater boundaries, more individual achievement records were set this year than ever before.  From the 7-mile underwater depth record set by Canadian filmmaker explorer James Cameron inside a futuristic one-man bathysphere, to freediver Ashley Futral Chapman who went down to 67 meters (223 feet) and back on a single breath of air, new milestones continue to be made and to be broken.

Skimming through our back pages we noted the following achievements, albeit some of them pretty dumb that were reached over the past 365 days.

CSS Website Photograph
  In January, members of the Czech Speleological Society (CSS) discovered and mapped the world's fourth longest underwater cave, Ko'ox Baal, which is over 56.5 kilometres long. In surveying the underwater passageways, Mexico’s Ko'ox Baal is now the longest underwater cave system that is mapped in the world.

Keystone ECO MarineCase
Yes, you can text underwater with your i-Phone4. As of January, 2012, the Keystone ECO
MarineCase, is the world’s first waterproof case made specifically for iPhone 4S/4. Put your iPhone in the slim MarineCase and it will work to a depth of 7-metres. A diver can take images and video underwater, as well as playback, email, text data and use apps below the surface. (You can’t talk on the phone though).

   The Casio watch company has begun production of the world’s first sport diving underwater transceiver that lets divers talk to each other while scuba diving.  The Logosease is a transceiver that is attached to the strap of a standard diving mask, allowing divers to converse normally with the scuba regulator in their mouths. The company says that “wireless communications is enabled by ultrasound and bone conduction technologies” and works to a depth of 180ft.

  


Hamster in sub - frame grab from students' YouTube video
 On April 29, 2012 students from a US Ocean Engineering program (probably Texas A&M) posted an extended video of the world’s first (and only) Hamster-Powered Submarine. The sub, made out of a plastic soda bottle, held a dry live hamster and its exercise wheel.  The hamster ran in the wheel, which turned a propeller, driving the sub slowly underwater. The first voyage was made in 2009.


World’s first underwater mosque - press photo
        In May a group of Saudi divers built what they described as the world’s first underwater mosque
The divers used massive plastic pipes filled with sand to construct the symbolic mosque under the water off the northwestern town of Tabuk, close to the border with Jordan.  After constructing the mosque the divers performed prayers inside the open concept structure.

A small tabloid dive story caught our eye in June! A British newspaper called it the stupidest dive stunt ever performed. Turns out it wasn’t a scuba dive but, indeed it was stupid. At the Royal Cornwall Fair the public watched Professor Splash, an elderly American stuntman, perform a death-defying 30ft dive into just 12 inches of Cornish milk!

In Indianapolis, Ohio, the world’s first underwater dart tournament was held in early August to raise money for the local leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Teams of scuba divers threw Toypedo "darts" through square targets made from PVC pipe.

Facebook photo crom Chagsha, China
The World’s Record for Static Apnea was set in June in Chagsha, China.  Tom Sietas, a German free diver was submerged in one Plexiglas tank, Brazilian breath holding champion, Ricardo Bahaia in the other. 
22 minutes 22 seconds later Siestas came up for air, he won the world record for holding one’s breathe in a tank.  He beat Bahaia’s old world’s record by 2 minutes and 1 second.

Hope those California mutts are pool trained!  The world’s first calendar featuring diving dogs is released in October. LA Photographer Seth Casteel’s 2013 calendar was an instant success and has raised money to improve the image of animal rescue and adoption.

Diving for dollars! A 22-year-old Pennsylvania man, William Heidi, found a printing plate for counterfeit $20 bills while scuba diving near the Susquehanna River Bridge in September. Police believe the plate had just been thrown into the river.

The World’s First Underwater Bingo Game (held in a shark tank). A group of English divers have been dreaming up extreme Bingo games to raise money for charity. The winning stunt?  Six players took their Bingo cards into the shark tank at the Blue Planet Aquarium, in Cheshire, England.

Aquarium Press Photograph
Also in 2012 and also in a shark tank, the world’s first underwater shark tea was staged at the Sea Life Aquarium. Teatime underwater in the large salt-water tank was done to show that sharks are not “blood thirsty sea monsters”.  
 Attending the tea were 15 big sharks including Black Tip Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Brown Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, a Zebra Shark and a Bowmouth Guitar Shark.

Late in September, the State of Michigan created the World’s Newest Underwater Park! The Lake Michigan shipwrecks off Muskegon, Whitehall, Grand Haven, Pentwater and other points along the West Michigan shoreline are now inside a newly created underwater park. The freshwater preserve covers about 345 square miles and features 13 identified shipwrecks and three other historical structures. Mooring pins will be set near the wrecks -- divers are welcome to visit the shipwrecks but are forbidden, by law, to damage them in anyway.

Photograph from Paul Devane's Flickr account
 On Tuesday 9th October 2012, off the west coast of Ireland, Paul Devane set the new Guinness World Record for the longest open saltwater scuba dive in cold water (10 C) at 13 hours and 4 minutes. In 2009, the 33-year-old was forced to pull out of his first attempt due to a technical malfunction: the pee valve on his drysuit that let him void, failed.

Ashley Chapman - Photo by Igor Liberti

Late in November at a free diving contest at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, Ashley Futral Chapman achieved the seemingly impossible by diving, without fins,  to 67 meters (223 feet) with just a single breath of air in her lungs. The swim lasted 3-minutes and 15-seconds. The 30-year old American set her third World Record in the freediving discipline of Constant No-Fins.




  

Kathryn Nevatt
In November the world’s best female freediver of 2008 broke the world’s record but didn’t get to keep the title because she didn’t stay conscious during the attempt. New Zealand’s Kathryn Nevatt was disqualified in her attempt to set the world free-diving record for swimming underwater despite swimming the farthest ever swum by a woman. Nevatt broke the current record of 163m held by Russian Natalia Malchanova, (she swam 164m) but lost because she briefly fainted during the 7-minute swim.

     
 The world’s record for the youngest and the oldest certified diver appears to be held by 10-year old Jevon Leighton, 15-year old Lucas Barroso and 92-year old Norman Lancefield.  According to Learn to Scuba Dive Magazine, Lancefield is the world’s oldest active diver, The Welsh diver continues to dive using the same equipment he bought in 1970!  The same magazine reports that Ontario teenager Lucas Barroso is the youngest person in Canada certified for rebreather diving. In December 2012 The Berwick Advertiser (Berwick-On-Tweed, UK) claimed that local resident, 10-year old Jevon Leighton is the youngest certified PADI diver in the World. He got his C-Card in Malta during the summer.

Case solved – scuba crime #1. Four people were arrested in Pennsylvania in April for using scuba gear to commit crimes against the game of golf! Three men and a woman were charged with the theft of 8,000 golf balls from country clubs near Willistown, PA. Using scuba gear, they dove the water traps at the courses to retrieve lost golf balls.  They operated a used-ball business.

Unsolved Case – scuba crime #2. Italian police have not found a statue believed to have been stolen on New Year's Day 2012. The 3.5 ton, 7.2 ft tall bronze statue of St Francis of Paola has stood on the seabed off the coast of Calabria since 2007. It was embedded in concrete 95ft down and was a popular dive attraction.  Although the statue has not recovered, a club searching for it did discover a 100-year-old shipwreck near the crime scene.

THE ALMOST MADE ITS  - An Estonian dive club tried to break its own record for Number of Divers Playing Checkers Underwater at one time.  42 played games underwater in January 2012, however their old record of 55 players set in 2011 stands … for now.
A team of Australian divers in early February set out to recapture the Guinness World’s Record for Underwater Ironing. Alas they didn’t make it, only 102 divers, ironing boards, irons and wrinkled shirts made it underwater.  The record stays in the Netherlands where 173 divers helped take the title in 2011.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Compassionate saint inspired St. Elizabeth Health Care



The legacy of St. Elizabeth continues not only on her anniversary, but every day in each community where Saint Elizabeth Health Care serves
By Linda Crane and Stephen Weir



A 13th century saint, recognized for her humanity and selflessness, is at the very heart of today's Saint Elizabeth Health Care.  Named after St. Elizabeth of Hungary who died on November 17, 1231, the innovative, not-for-profit, charitable organization continues to recognize the anniversary of its namesake by ensuring that the compassion and care she was known for continues in the homes and communities where its health care professionals serve.

The Story of Saint Elizabeth

Born in 1207, Elizabeth of Hungary was the daughter of Andrew II, King of Hungary.  After the deaths of her mother and her betrothed, Elizabeth turned her back on the opulence of the court at her family's castle in Warburg, in the state of Thuringia (Germany)- choosing instead a pious, selfless and austere life.  Ostracized by the court for refusing her social status, she stood up to her detractors and quietly devoted her life to helping the poor and the sick.

Like celebrities Angelina Jolie, Bono, Matt Damon, George Clooney and others who have used their influential status to try to change the world for the sick or downtrodden --  Elizabeth of Hungary was a celebrity in her time, turning her compassion into action.  Following the death of her husband, King Ludwig IV, she joined the Third Order of Franciscans and had a 28-bed hospital[i] built so she could personally tend to the sick. Her health care concept was centuries ahead of its time.

According to legend, one day Elizabeth was returning home from administering to the poor with a bundle of leftover loaves of bread under her cloak when she encountered her husband. He asked her what she was carrying and when she opened her cloak, the loaves of bread had been transformed into masses of red roses.  The incident is known as one of several instances of the "Miracle of the Roses", and is portrayed in many religious relics and icons.  For centuries people have made pilgrimages to the site of her home in Thuringia.  One of the most famous statues of her is in front of a Budapest church dedicated to St. Elizabeth at Roses' Square (Rózsák tere).

Noreen Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Saint Elizabeth Health Care has visited Thuringia and explains, "Seeing the ruins of the hospital St. Elizabeth built, and recognizing what an amazing feat it was at the time to actually build a special place devoted to health care was an awakening for me.  St. Elizabeth exuded a rare sense of purpose and suffered for it.  She had an astonishing compassion for those not as fortunate as her and she acted with courage because she knew it was the right thing to do. This is the lesson we all can take from St. Elizabeth. "

“I am proud of how St. Elizabeth’s legend has always anchored our organization,” says Shirlee Sharkey, President and CEO of Saint Elizabeth. “We have never lost sight of her as a guide to the care we provide and to how the organization evolves as a social enterprise.  At her core, St. Elizabeth respected all people, and this is central to our modern day vision to honor the human face of health care.”

The legacy of St. Elizabeth continues not only on her anniversary, but every day in each community where Saint Elizabeth Health Care serves. 

About Saint Elizabeth Health Care

Saint Elizabeth Health Care has been a trusted name in Canadian health care for more than a century and is a leader in responding to client, family and system needs.  The award-winning not-for-profit and charitable organization is recognized for its track record of social innovation and breakthrough clinical practices.  Their team of more than 6,500 nurses, rehab therapists, personal support workers and crisis intervention staff deliver over five million health care visits annually.

For more information about Saint Elizabeth Health Care visit: http://www.saintelizabeth.com/
 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Arnaud Maggs Passes

The Master Photographer Has Died
(Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/stephen-weir/arnaud-maggs-dies-_b_2170683.html)

After Nadar - self-portrait by Arnaud Maggs. Press photograph courtesy of the Susan Hobbs Gallery

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Photographer 86-year old photographer Arnaud Maggs didn't suffer media fools lightly.  "If another reporter asks me how come I have managed to stay active so long, and what is my secret to long life, I am going to tell him sex and drugs" he groused as we walked out of the Canada AM television studio.
"What about Rock and Roll?" I asked. Arnaud thought for a moment, smiled and answered, "less so".
It was in the late spring and Maggs was on a roll. He had had a successful show of his works in Toronto at the Susan Hobbs Gallery.  The National Gallery in Ottawa had paid the ultimate tribute by opening Arnaud Maggs: Identification a survey exhibition that follows the senior artist’s production over four decades. 


And then, the Toronto based photographer won the Scotiabank Photography Award - Canada's richest and most prestigious photography award - and that is where I came in. I had been hired to promote the 2nd annual Scotiabank Photography Award to Canadians. 


After winning the  $50,000 purse, a book publishing deal and an upcoming exhibition in Toronto in 2013, the photographer was media hot. He was in demand. Radio. Television. Newspapers. We campaigned like he was running for office.
Arnaud willingly made the rounds with me, talking to the art media about his work, his hopes for the future, and sigh, yes his secrets for staying young.  It was not surprising that he would be asked about his age. He was trim, fit and dressed all in black.  Large owl glasses, a black porkpie hat and a Cheshire cat smile. He had so much energy. So much life. He looked 60 yet 90 loomed. People wanted to know if it would ever end.
It did. On Saturday.  After a brief battle with cancer, the country's most skilled black and white studio photographer passed away in a Toronto hospice. His wife, Artist Spring Hurlbut, two sons, Lorenzo and Toby and daughter, Caitlan, their mother Margaret Frew, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, survive him.
At the time of his death Arnaud was working with Scotiabank on the publication of a book of his life's work.  The European publishing house Steidl will issue the book posthumously in the spring.  


"His legacy will live on through his art and in the lives of the artists and art-enthusiasts whom he has touched with his work," read a statement issued by Scotiabank yesterday. "His work will be celebrated with an exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) program during Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2013. A commemorative book will accompany the exhibition."

" Works by Maggs," continued the statement, "are in many important public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Vancouver Art gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Alberta, Winnipeg Art Gallery."   His work has been shown and collected throughout Canada and Europe (mainly France). In the United States he was included in Charles Stainback’s Special Collections: The Photographic Order from Pop to Now organized and toured by the International Centre of Photography in New York. 


Arnaud Maggs began his career as an artist in the mid seventies at the age of 47, after success as a graphic designer and then a commercial and fashion photographer. His early work used portraiture to catalogue the geometry of the face.
For the past seventeen years Arnaud has created work from documents related to child labour at the turn of the century, French mourning stationary, the address book of Eugène Atget, a tradesman’s sample kit, and a series of invoices from 1891 documenting the clothing purchases of a Lyon couple named Gendot. Also for the first time, he photographed in colour – a subtle understated use of the medium. As with Arnaud’s earlier work, the means of presentation (the arrangement of photographs in grids) persists, as does the general concern of classification
My filmmaking associate George Socka and I interviewed Arnaud for a Huffington Post piece that I worked on earlier this year. We spent an hour with Arnaud inside The Susan Hobbs Gallery here in Toronto at the start of an exhibition he called "After Nadar". (Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820 –1910).  He was a famous French photographer, caricaturist, journalist and balloonist who lived and worked in the city of Paris).
Maggs was inspired by an 1855 series of photographs that Nadir took of Pierrot, a celebrated pantomime artist.  " Maggs," explained gallery owner Susan Hobbs, " has “restaged” these photographs but with himself as the sitter."
"As Pierrot, Maggs pantomimes making work, collecting, enjoying books and music—activities that mirror his real life habits and influences in his practice as an artist," continued Hobbs. "Objects such as a 19th century death notice envelope and white enameled jugs, which have appeared as subjects in Maggs’ previous works, turn up here as props and suggest an embedded historical survey of his work to date. In Pierrot the Archivist, over stacks of grey archival boxes—a common sight in Maggs’ studio—Pierrot contemplates a portrait of the artist as a younger man, a gesture that verges on a contemporary vanitas. In all of these portraits, Maggs has artfully positioned himself as photographer and performer to narrate his own past, present, and future."
In the posted interview Arnaud talks about his exhibition in Ottawa, and about his nomination for the Scotiabank Award. Socka's interview was one of the last that Arnaud would give - you can see it at: 


 Post Script: On the 28th of November there will be a gathering to honour Arnaud Maggs. The 6pm event will be held in the Great Hall, Hart House, at the University of Toronto. All are welcome to attend. Organizers ask, " in lieu of flowers please consider a donation in memory of Arnaud to Hart House for the Art Committee Acquisition Fund."  

RSVPs should be sent to info@susanhobbs.com.

Monday, 5 November 2012

TWO MARKETING IDEAS THAT DIDN'T WORK



PR Tales From My Blue Bin
(some marketing and PR ideas are better left alone)


From the Huffington Post

By Stephen Weir: Saying something loudly doesn't make it true. Doubly so when it is the printed word doing all the yelling.
I was given a card (pictured top) to keep so that I wouldn't forget the show I had just paid to see. Since then the card has been pinned to my corkboard wall. It has been up there for a while. It edges have started to curl. It has taken a couple of Starbuck splashes over time.
I took it down yesterday when I realized the card's message -- Please Keep This Card As Your Memory Of The Show -- hadn't worked. I have no memory of getting that 3" by 4" piece of cardboard. I can't tell you what show I was at when I received the card. An art show? A play? A dance performance?
Hmm. Probably something that was given out at a Toronto Harbourfront performance, since they are the only arts institution these days that has money to print this sort of thing.
I won't ever know now, the card has been moved into my blue bin.
The second written promo that claims I will remember something for life, has a better back story.
Two years ago I was on assignment in the Yucatan. Cave diving. One of the caves came to the surface near the beach community of Tulum. I had been underwater, in the dark, claustrophobic confines of a freshwater cave.
I stripped out of my wetsuit and drove to the coast to enjoy the warm sun, the wide open space and the blue sea (all the opposite of what I had been scuba diving through). Walking the beach I took the above picture of a bench in the white sand.
The chair's signature -- The Only Chair You Will Remember For the Rest of Your Life -- is a big fat lie.
Today I was warehousing photos onto a backup hard drive (my digital blue bin) when I looked at the picture once again. Had to check my notes to see where I had taken the picture. I had forgotten the chair, the beach and even the country I was in when I took the photo.
In the world of PR there is a lot of borrowing. Best though to steal concepts that work. Here are two ideas that you don't want to sneak out of my blue bin.

Follow Stephen Weir on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sweirsweir

Sunday, 21 October 2012

New Rob Stewart Film Debuts At TIFF

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The Revolution To Change The World Begins Underwater

 An edited version of this story appears in this month's Diver Magazine
 Revolution is a new big brain movie for divers who care about the planet. Underwater filmmaker Rob Stewart premiered the full-length film in early September at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Already Revolution is doing what Stewart wants it to do – change the world.
The movie captured the People’s Choice Award Documentary  (Runner-Up) in his hometown and was Documentary Winner at last month’s Atlantic Film Festival.  It will be screening at Festivals for the next few months before getting theatrical release in Canada in March 2013.
Revolution is the true-life eco-crusade that the Toronto diver found himself leading, half way through making the movie.  The film, originally meant as a shark conservation film – a follow-up to his acclaimed 2006 SHARKWATER documentary – ended back on land and morphed into something much much bigger.
It took eight years in total, a million dollars, the support of friends and fellow eco-warriors to make Revolution. This film takes viewers through 15 countries over a four year adventure as Rob Stewart discovers that it's not only sharks that are in grave danger – it's humanity itself.


Stewart and his team are filming in New Guineau
“The movie picks off from where SHARKWATER leaves off,” Stewart told Diver Magazine. “In fact Revolution opens using footage that didn’t get into SHARKWATER. We are diving in the Galapagos Islands, and we have drifted away from our boat. We have strayed too far from our boat. We are floating away and night is coming.”
Shades of the thriller Open Water.  “ We used this footage as a metaphor for the movie – it is to get audiences gasping at our plight – and the world’s plight.  We have our moment of terror floating away (with schooling hammerheads down below).  We have no idea what to do.”
Stewart got his camera into a shark finning centre
Stewart does get rescued and for awhile goes back underwater to making a documentary about saving the world’s coral reefs, halting shark fining and bringing endangered species back from the brink. But, two or three years into the project Stewart came up for air and released there were mammoth problems facing mankind. 
“It is bigger than the oceans,” he explained. “To tell the biggest story of all (the impending destruction of the planet) required us to go out of he water, you know, and show people that it is all about saving the evolution of life.”
Stewart opens his film: Toronto International Film Festival - photo by Weit
From the coral reefs in Papua, New Guinea and deforestation in Madagascar to the largest and most destructive environmental project in Alberta, the new movie documents that all of society’s actions are interconnected and that environmental degradation, species loss, ocean acidification, pollution and food and water scarcity reduces the Earth's ability to house humans.
Stewart asks “how did this happen, and what will it take to change the course that humanity has set itself on?”
The filmmaker wants millions to see Revolution.  After it comes off the film festival circuit and finishes its theatrical run, he plans to post Revolution on the Internet and use Social Media tools to direct young people to see the film.
And after that? “We are doing Sharks and Snakes, a 3-D, IMAX large format movie,” said Stewart. “ And then I’d like to take a bit of breather!”

Prop from Stewart's first movie, SHARKWATER, was recycled and used at the TIFF after-party for the movie launch - photo by Stephen Weir



Friday, 12 October 2012

Toronto sculptor's touring European exhibition now at Art Gallery of Ontario

Top: Eran Penny and Old Self, Variation #, 1960 Left: young Penny
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"HOPE I DIE BEFORE GET OLD" (Oops too late)
  Maybe, says Canadian artist but that was a long time AGO
From the Huffington Post by Stephen Weir
 http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/../../stephen-weir/evan-penny-ago_b_1964942.html
It was the sixties. Vietnam.  Nuclear testing in the Pacific.  Sgt Pepper. And, the Who singing they hoped their generation would die before it got old.
What could be worse than aging?  Cutting your hair? Buying a suit?  Cubicles? Getting a mortgage?
The song didn't work.  Most of us lived. We all grew old.  Overnight. No one thought about what was going to happen as the aging process took hold ... except maybe Canadian sculptor, Evan Penny.
When Peter Townsend wrote My Generation (with that famous dying line) it was 1965 and the Who were pointing out that older people just "don't get it". 
Evan Penny was 12-years old and had just moved to Canada from Africa where his father had practised medicine. He was  an outsider on the edge of the Boomer Bubble. He was about to grow old, but, on his own terms. An artist.  A prop builder for Hollywood movies.  A man who literally "stretched" how Canadians think about sculpture.
In 2006, four decades past the Who's Best Due Date, the Toronto based artist decided he could use sculpture to figuratively return to the days of his youth, and at the same time flash forward towards a time of his  own perceived physical decay.
 "How I might feel at the end of my life. What will I look like?" said Evan Penny while standing beside a life-sized bust of himself  as he imagined he will look at the age of 90.  The wall-mounted artwork is a key piece in an important exhibition that recently opened at the Art Gallery of Toronto.
" This  is how might I feel at the end of my life," Penny told me at a press preview for the show. "This second piece (moving over to a sculpture of himself as a 17-year old) is how I probably felt at the beginning (of manhood) but it is really about me in the here-and-now."
The AGO is the last stop for Evan Penny: Re Figured following exhibitions at Germany's Kunsthalle Tübingen, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg in Austria, and Italy’s Museo delle Arti Cantanzaro. The exhibition is in Toronto until January 6, 2013. 
Evan Penny: Re Figured  is a solo exhibition that features over 25 of Penny’s larger-than-life sculptures, each painstakingly crafted from layers of pigmented silicone, human hair, fabric and resin. Blending abstraction and figuration, Penny’s hyper-realistic sculptures straddle the line between object and image, presenting the human form both as it is and as it can be when imagined through the distorting lens of photography and digital media.
Filling the fourth floor, this show, according to the Art Gallery "shows the artist’s evolution over the past decade, highlighting in equal measure his technical skill and fresh thinking. Accessible, often familiar and sometime vaguely monstrous, his works engage audiences, young and old alike, on various levels".
" No, I didn't make a mould of myself," said Penny, while fielding questions at a bare-bones media preview held in mid-September at the AGO.  " However, I did scan myself.  From that I made a foam sculpture  and a follow-on clay sculpture casting and onto the next step .... (a silicon casting, followed by the final addition of hair, pigment and a super realistic paint job!)."
" After all that, there is still the look of myself in there, in the sense of the present and the future."
The sculptor's ability to make his work have startlingly life-like skin colour, comes from his other life, that of a special effects expert for the movies.  You might have seen the head he created of  John Kennedy, which was used in  Oliver Stone’s film JFK, or the organic guns and computer pods in David Croneberg's eXistenZ and that thing in the rat infested cellar in Graveyard Shift.
Matthew Teitelbaum and Stretch #1
Evan Penny’s Stretch #1 from 2003 is one of the "most popular works at the Art Gallery of Ontario", said Matthew Teitelbaum, the director and CEO of the gallery. Visitors love to stare at Stretch’s huge stretched silicone face (almost 3 meters long) and peer into his big watery eyes. 
Stretch #1 hung  for almost a decade at the AGO."When it came down (to be part of the touring show), we were constantly being asked by visitors where it was!" said Teitelbaum.
In this age of Photo Shop, Penny is not surprised that young art gallery goers relate to the 3-dimensional distortion of a man's face in Stretch #1.
"We are saturated with images because of  the media. My work displays this world in 3-D, to what is often a 2-D audience," he said. " In 2-D world we accept distortion quickly. Not so in  the 3-D world. I am interested in that juxtaposition."
 He suggests that if you were to put a photograph of Stretch #1 and some of his other works from the show, into a Photo Shop programme, one could restore the image back to almost picture-perfect normalcy.
Aerial #2 by Evan Penny 2006. Silicone, pigment, hair, aluminum
And there are other works in the show, that are so lifelike, photographs of his pieces, like the bird's eye view of a standing nude male (Aerial #2),  need no computer diddling to make them look more real than a sculpture.

What is it all about?  According to the artist, that is a fair question, one that he asks himself from time-to-time.  He admits there is a fair bit of voyeurism in some of his work.  Maybe, as the Who once sang, it is a case of not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation, he's just talkin' 'bout his g-g-g-generation. 
By Stephen Weir
six pictures from the media conference http://www.stephenweir.com/gallery1/index.php/Evan-Penny-At-The-Art-Gallery-of-Ontario


Monday, 8 October 2012

SCUBA DIVING INSPIRES UNDERWATER TATTOOS (AND TOE NAIL POLISH)

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Chasing Ink With Camera!
One Day On A Little Cayman Dive Boat

The compass has a dive flag. Celtic ink with 3 waves for the dive world

Stripping down in Little Cayman's only food store
Little Cayman Island, population 200, attracts only two types of visitors.  Ornithologists. Experienced Scuba Divers.
Ornithologists because of the birds. The largest colony of Red Footed Boobies in the Caribbean is found on Little Cayman's Booby Pond. Scuba Divers go there because of the sheer wall of coral found in the island's underwater preserve, just north of the island.
My wife and I returned from Little Cayman Island on Sunday.  We weren't there for the birds.
Flamingo is the logo for dive haven Bonaire.
We spent most of our week on a couple of dive boats. One large scuba boat was operated by Reef Divers out of the Little Cayman Resort.  The other, a small Boston Whaler operated by three divers, was out on the reef hunting the invasive lionfish.
Big or small, on Little Cayman the dive boats attract mature divers.  Youngest diver on the Reef Divers boat with us was probably 40.  The Oldest? 85 and counting.
A mature crowd meant people experienced in the sport. They   also were a well-heeled group who brought the best equipment and dressed in the nicest clothes. Polite. Sophisticated. Educated.
But, what was shocking was once the shirts came off and the men and women dropped trou, you got to see how dedicated, in private, these divers are to the sport of scuba diving.
 The pictures on this blog were all taken over a 24-hour period. One morning was spent diving on Bloody Bay Wall with Reef Divers.  The afternoon was spent with three lion fish hunters.  I grabbed a lot of pictures with my loaner Olympus E-PL3 while taking a surface interval in the pool with fellow scuba fanatics at Little Cayman Resort.  I learned quickly that high-end diving  brought out the ink in people. 
No one was shy about showing their colours. Arms dripping images of sharks, jelly fish, octopi and whales. Feet etched in pictures of dolphins.  A woman with a turtle and a butterfly on her shoulder.  Another with a leatherback tattoo on her ankle.
I took pictures of every aquatic tattoo I saw before and after just one day of diving. No one turned me down. No one wondered what I was doing.
Cheers Mate! And Bottoms up with White Fin
All but one of the pictures were taken on the two boats or in the freshwater pool.  I was also lucky enough to get a picture of a manta ray that was on the back of a man shopping in the island's only store.  He had no qualms about stripping off his shirt in the middle of the canned goods aisle to let me get my picture!
Of course, not everyone wants ink and, as I found out,  there were alternatives.  I did photograph a woman's two big toes that have been decorated with red and white nail polish to look like dive flags.  And I also met up with an ink-free diver who was content to stand in the pool and honour his sport by drinking a can of  White Fin Lager inspired by Jaws and brewed by Cayman Islands Brewery.
This diver had the help of her husband to put dive flags on her toes. She did the red polish, he the white.

Monday, 24 September 2012

YaHaYa BaRuWa has knocked on 10,000 doors in Scarborough, to sell his first book

  (The hard way to get a best seller)

The Unusual Way One Man is Getting His Story Out - First Novel Sells Very Well 

Yahaya Baruwa talks about his book on William Doyle Marshall's CHRY show My Data Bag. Linda at the second mike.
By Stephen Weir
Posted: 09/20/2012 5:37 pm Huffington Post Canada

Meet Yahaya Baruwa (pronounced: YaHaYa BaRuWa). He is a recent York University Graduate. On Tuesday he and I shared a microphone at CHRY-fm. It was the My Data Bag show with William Doyle Marshall. I was talking about art, films and books in a big picture fashion, Yahaya was much more practical -- very down to earth.
He was there to talk about the difficult journey he took to get his new novel Struggles of a Dreamer published. Just like the title, it was a struggle for the Nigerian Canadian to just get the book printed. When he couldn't find a traditional publisher, he decided to form a publishing company on his own and print his own book.
He told the radio listening audience that he has set a goal of getting a million people to read his book. He reckons he has sold at least 5,000 copies -- which makes it a Canadian best seller. "I am not giving up. I still believe I can do it! I can reach a million people!"
With just one book in his stable, Baruwa needs to make sales fast to pay the mounting printer's bill. He listed the book on Amazon, Indigo and the like and did manage to get it into most of Toronto's bookstores -- one shop at a time.
He has emailed the world, but, it isn't the new social media tools that is driving sales of this book -- it is the old fashioned, Encyclopaedia Britannica sales method that is moving copies. You take the book to the public and hope you get your foot out before the front door is slammed shut.
"I knock on doors and tell people to buy my book. I have a friend who helps me too, but, it is hard, slow work. We have had a few doors slammed."
How many books do you think he has sold door-to-door? The number is 3,000 and counting. At $20 a copy, he has found that the personal approach works.
"I have been working Scarborough (suburb of Toronto, Canada). I estimate that I have visited over 10,000 homes and it takes a few minutes each time to make the sale!"
"Struggles of a Dreamer, is a novel that can be enjoyed by the young and the old readers alike; most especially those in search of inspiration to pursue their personal ambitions," said Yahaya Baruwa. "You will encounter the struggles of a dreamer (Toku'te, the son of a farmer) as he faces the challenges of the limiting boundaries of his tradition. You will laugh, cry, experience romance, be frightened, held in suspense, and become inspired as you find out how Toku'te manages to remain afloat in a world that requires everyone to fit the same mold."
Visit the book's website to learn more.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Underwater Film Maker Takes His Eco-Message Onto Dry Land in Revolution

Toronto Film Maker Opens Revolution at Toronto International Film Festival






(From a recent, popular Facebook posting by Stephen Weir)


I attended last night's world premiere of Rob Stewart's newest eco-documentary, Revolution. The full-length movie was screened  here in Toronto to an almost full house at TIFF.

Stewart, an underwater filmmaker (Shark Water) spends most of this movie above-water looking at how close the planet is to a total eco-meltdown. The movie is very critical of Canada's Tar Sands project. Great underwater scenes with whale sharks and manta rays.

Pictured is Stewart before and after the screening, and a plastic shark prop (from the movie) outside the Wellington Street bar where the after-party was held.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Diver Magazine Wreck Story Sidebar #3 Russian Destroyer


 
Cayman Brac  “The Russian Destroyer”

Cayman Brac - Reef Divers' crew prepare for a morning dive on the Russian Destroyer
Wrecked  - Diver Magazine Feature by Stephen Weir September 2012. Sidebar 3


The Russian destroyer was actually a Russian Patrol Frigate based in Cuba. It was Patrol Vessel 356 until just before her sinking when she was named the Dive Captain Keith Tibbetts

Length 330’
Width 42’
Commissioned in 1984
Decommissioned in 1992
Sunk in 1996
Last passenger on ship – Jean Michelle Cousteau
Armament – Two 5” deck gun.

Reef Divers, Cayman Brac visit the Destroyer almost daily, and occasionally will dive her at night.  The Cayman Aggressor live-aboard usually dives her weekly.  When conditions are right, she can be dove from shore.

Reef Divers at Brac Reef Beach Resort
Cayman Brac
1-800-594-0843
info@866thebrac.com

Full Story: http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.ca/2012/08/cover-story-diver-magazine-september.html 
YouTube Video of a dive on the Russian Destroyer by Stephen Weir http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=488399485515759859#editor/target=post;postID=7762470828866497744