This prompts me to ask:
- What happens if the "good guy with a gun" decides not to take action? We're left only with the "bad guy with a gun."
- If a trained police officer is hesitant to take action, then what should we expect from a school teacher?
This prompts me to ask:
As noted earlier, my son and I made a round table, which will become a prop in my documentary work.
My wife has decided that a round table is better than a rectangular one. More space-efficient; 8 people can be seated into the same space, more comfortably, than before.
I am traumatized. A circular table has no head. How am I supposed to express my position as patriarch without a head of the table?
One of those little, but important, observations.
I've been moving forward with my documentary work. I'm working towards a multi-media installation. One of the video components of the installation will be a film of a dinner. I remain impressed on how it is possible to make the simple act of eating into a complex logistical and technical challenge. This is due in part because of the performance aspect of the component that result in logistical challenges and the aesthetic choices that present technical challenges to achieve. All in the name of having a purpose.
The performance element requires the involvement and then the co-ordinated actions of 6 people to prepare and serve a meal in a specific order. The aesthetic objectives require positioning the camera above the table to have a top-down view.
Co-ordinating the people and meal preparation has resulted in me developing a project plan. The resource constraints turn out to be the stove-top elements. Additionally, I have sent out reading material to each of the participants providing a theoretical context to the event. I think I'll quiz them before the show starts.
Circles are important to the work, so the table needed to be circular. We don't have a circular table; so my son and I built one. Well, we built the table top which rests on top of the frame of our rectangular dinner table. Linda bought the plywood and hinges to make the top. Turns out she likes the results, so we may just keep it.
The final technical challenge is mounting the camera above the table. I have found a way to do this by attaching the equipment to the existing light fixture. Trial runs have given me confidence this will work. Prior to this breakthrough, I expect to have to remove the light fixture and install some sort of mount, leaving a permanent record through holes in the ceiling.
Which song was #1 on the charts when you were born? This question has nagged me for decades. But now you can find out: https://playback.fm/birthday-song. Mine turns out to be Oh My Papa by Eddie Fisher.
There is something magical about Greek Mythology. Wikipedia summarizes the story of Antigone thus:
There are various interpretations of the play. Hegel has Antigone stand for the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal rule, but also for the spirit of kinship. Judith Butler offers a feminist spin on the narrative.
My interest lies on Hegel's latter point: the tension between the rights of kinship vs. those of the state. Antigone claims her kinship rights to bury her brother, while Creon claims his political rights to deal with treasonous behaviour. Both rights seem valid and a logical outcome of their respective contexts.
Context brings to mind the notion of the "common good" as a baseline for evaluation of right and wrong. That there is tension, however, raises the question of whose common good is good.
To bring in the New Year, we enjoyed a bottle of wine and Foie Gras, complements of my son's girl friend's parents.
Continuing along with my episode in Photo Restoration, the image of my grandparent's wedding displayed on screen is at about 10% of the actual size of the digital image, but is about the same as the actual size of the physical photograph.
Looking at the image, ones attention is directed towards the bride, groom, the family members, the surroundings (the cobblestone, the street to the left); with the physical photograph, one can see the quality of the print, the clarity and delicate shades of the image.
I am able to go further and identify some of the people. The front row, left to right, are: Max Hertha, Anna Hertha, Berta Schellhorn, Heinrich Schellhorn, parents of the groom and bride. The second row of young men are Walter Schellhorn (brother of the bride) and Rudolph Hertha (brother of the groom); the third young man I don't know. The third row are the bridge and groom, my grandparents. I don't know the people in the fourth row. The fifth row starts with Lotta Hertha (sister of the groom) and Hans Winkler (her future husband), two young ladies I don't know and then Edgar Hertha. The only other person I know is Fanny Nennstiel (aunt of the bride, sister of Berta Schellhorn in the front row) in the very back on the right. I believe the gentleman with the mustachio (back row, left) is Fanny's husband, Oskar.
There are people missing, most noticeably, two of the brothers of the bride, Rudi and Otto. I believe Rudi was in the US by then and I'm not sure where Otto was.
As I work through the restoration process, I delve into the image at 100% looking for cracks, blotches and blemishes. It is better than a magnifying glass. It is at 100% that the interesting details emerge. One can see what people are holding in their hands; three are holding cigars.
Unexpectedly, another dimension of information is exposed; one is offered more insight into the event. A sense of the celebration shrouded in the formality of the photograph itself, hidden in the details.
I've spent the last few days reviewing Photo Restoration and Scanning courses on Lynda.com. I had already partially restored the Wedding Picture I posted the other day, but I wasn't satisified with the result. One of the bigger challenges was to remove glare from the scanning process. I tried several different scanning procedures to resolve the problem, but to no effect. So, more detailed research on restoration was required.
The original image appeared to be in fairly good shape, although it had a number of cracks and tears in the surface. Looking at it in detail, I found other signs of aging, including hairline cracks, various spots and variations in the surface texture.
Reviewing the courses, I summarized the restoration process into the following steps:
The above steps were completed in Photoshop, but a few steps were completed in Lightroom, specifically softening the faces and sharpening, as the last step.
Below are two 100% crops showing a before and after state.
I have several copies of my grandparent's wedding, but I found an original print. Quite a difference in quality over the other versions I have. As well, the tone is much more pleasant.
The front row are my great grandparents, left to right: Max Hertha, Anna Hertha, Berta Schellhorn and Heinrich Schellhorn. Beyond that, identification is hit and miss.
As I looked more closely, I noticed all shoes visible are the same style.
We had our Christmas Dinner last night; today will be a day of rest and relaxation.
As note earlier in my post Remnants, I've returned to scanning photographs from the family photo albums. I came across one of my grandfather's office when he worked in Sonneberg Germany (about 1927).
Looking more closely at his desktop, after noting the telephone, I saw something else: his pen holder set. The outline is visible in the second image above. After my grandfather retired, he gave the set to my father, who had it in his office for many years, until he retired. It is now on my desk (image 3).
As I noted earlier (Christmas Break), I'm using food and diet as a culture marker within my documentary work. Potato dumplings were a big thing in my family. Dumplings are interesting because they are a part of many diets, including Chinese and Indian, and thus there is an interesting point in common.
In any case, my great grandmother used to make what they called Sambarger Klöß every Sunday for lunch. I know my grandmother used to make them too, but once they moved to Canada, I don't think they followed that tradition quite so regularly.
I have made these dumplings before, but they failed: they broke up when I put them into the water to cook. My grandmother simply said I didn't use the right potatoes. But she didn't elaborate. I asked my cousin whether she knew which potatoes they used, but she said no one makes them any more; it's too complicated and too much work.
My thought was that if I could find the recipe, it may offer a clue as to the preferred potato. There are many types of potato dumplings so I needed to narrow my focus. I had to recall two things: the approximate recipe and what they looked like. Through my research, I came to conclude that what I was looking for goes by various names, but I think the most generic is "Green" dumplings, as they are made with a 2/3 component of raw potatoes. I found a recipe on line that closely resembles what I recall as the one my grandmother followed (although hers was not written down). Sadly, none of the recipes I found named a variety of potato.
However, I knew that high-starch potatoes are required so the dumplings bind and don't fall a part when they are boiled. Again, research concluded that Russet Potatoes were the appropriate choice.
I recorded making the dumplings. The resulting dumplings were edible. The advice from several sources is that the dumplings are cooked when the float to the surface (of the boiling water). Mine never sank. So I cooked them for 15 minutes; the larger ones were a bit underdone, so the recommended 20 minutes might be better. The dumplings were sized to be just a little bigger than a hard ball (or cricket ball). I will be making them again, but may not every Sunday.
So, what does this have to do with my Documentary work? First, it is basic research. Like the ethnographer, doing is an approach to learning and understanding. Should I include this in my work, either as is or with better production quality, it would become a performance element of the work.
I have returned to scanning. I have a pile of old photographs that I want to scan, some simply to archive the physical copy, and others for my project work.
In going through the photographs, I noted a couple of things. First, when I contacted relatives to see if they had any photos they, more often than expected, sent me images I already had. There were different ones of course, but I was surprise how many were duplicates. I suspect it had to do with the times; a photograph taken (say 60-80 years ago) was subsequently sent around to every one.
The second thing I noticed was in the details. I was looking at my graduation picture.
Taken at home in our living room
The first thing I noticed was the vase on the coffee table. We still have it; it's now on our coffee table in the living room. Behind that, standing on the side table, is a picture of my brother and I. I still have that photograph as well. I recently scanned it. I then noticed that I still have the tie I was wearing. I continue hope it will come back into style.
These observations brought to mind how some things persist; others don't. Remnants of the past offer a chance to recall the memory of some past event. Each little piece has a bunch of memories associated with it.
School has diverted my attention away from this blog. But now I'm on Christmas break. Not that it means things stop; I simple don't have classes. But my project work continues.
I am regularly impressed by the detail and nuance of these things broadly referred to as the arts. I find myself often with an intuitive understanding of something, but it's not until I look into it further that I realise the depth.
As I proceeded with my project — on a multi-generational view of acculturation — I became concerned that it was too weighted towards a family history and thus less broadly appealing and getting too complex. I have found that a more poetic perspective on the problem often helps over come these challenges.
In this case I landed on a food analogy. Quite naively I looked at how our menu had changed over the past generations and thought it paralleled how our family had changed. However, I was somewhat surprised by the reaction I got: it was very positive, and strongly so. Stronger than I felt was merited.
I looked more closely at food, by searching "food and culture", which spewed out the usual impossible number of hits: "About 935,000,000 results (0.95 seconds)." I quickly realised that I had stumbled onto a gold mine. It was both exciting and concerning. I am bolstered that my intuition is on track; disquieted by the amount I don't understand or know. This latter realisation is a frequent one.
Over the coming months the course moves away from the theoretical, my comfort zone, into the practical: creating a documentary work. No doubt I will face more moments of disquiet.
The location of my Great Grandparents (parents of my father's mother) was identified in the Manuscript. The address was Bahnhofstr 4.
At the time, Sonneberg was a centre for the production of toys and Christmas ornaments. For those who ran such a business, common practice was to have a factory (for production) and residence connected. My great grandparents owned and operated a factory producing teddybears and Christmas ornaments, and like the usual practice, their facility included both a residence and a factory.
The front part of the building contained the residence; the rear, the factory. The tudor-styled structure was the factory.
One of the foundational theories for my work relates to Place Attachment, that is how people develop bonds with the spaces they inhabit. There are several means by which one can attach: events or history; people; homes; landscapes, food, etc.
Renate's manuscript provided several vignettes, like Home Coming that I included in an earlier post, that offer a sense of place attachment. So with these stories in mind, when we returned to Sonneberg last month, one of my objectives was to find some of these things that represented bonds.
The first that came to mind were the homes and places of work. To find these I visited the city archives of Sonneberg and they provided me with city address books from 1887, 1893, 1911, 1923 and 1929.
WIth this information, and that provided in Renate's manuscript, I plotted the locations on a map and visited them.
From the address books, I found that my Great Grandfather, Max Hertha (parents of my father's father) had lived on Coburger Allee, 9
His place of work was Bahnhofstr 95, which is now an empty field. The building was bombed during the war and never rebuilt.
The last week has been consumed by TIFF. I got an Industry & Press Conference Pass that grants access to a series of presentations, seminars, panel discussions and films. In addition to the public film showings, there are some scheduled only for those holding industry / press passes. For public films I am able to get free tickets the "day of" meaning that the day of the film I can pick up tickets at the box office, assuming availability. For industry showings I simply show up 15 minutes or so before hand.
I've seen one feature length documentary, Hochelaga, and two programs of Shorts (Wavelenghts: Fluid Frontiers and Short-cut Programme 3). I also attended a press conference with Eric Clapton in advance of the showing of a documentary about his life. He's gotten old. The seminars were, for the most part, panel discussions with industry people, often focused on process. Generally interesting, often humorous. However, after three days of seminars, I now need to take a day off, and catch up on some school work. Unlike the business conferences I have attended, when I was working, this one goes on for 10 days.
I enjoyed the film Hochelaga as it offered an interesting representation of historical events. Rather than presenting the story along a sequencial timeline, it structures the narrative around an archeological dig. As the archeologists dig down and find artifacts, the film presents a recreation of the events related to the found artifact. In this way, the story steps back though the Rebellion of 1839, a trappers lodge in the 1700's and eventually to the first meeting between the Iroquois and French in 1535. The approach offers some ideas for my own work.
However, the most relevant point to note is that I was granted an "Industry" pass, meaning I'm now part of the Film (Documentary) Industry; no longer part of the Banking / Technology Industry. Surprisingly, I feel relieved.
The storylines are the foundational components of the overall narrative; the book's chapters; the patches in the tapestry that covers the quilt. My intent is to start without specifically constraining the narrative and only after the stronger themes emerge will I then narrow and focus it. I need to select therefore a suite of storylines that offers the coverage. The benchmark for coverage will relate to how complete Identity is presented, which in turn involves translating this concept into its more tangible elements of place and culture. These two might be thought of as simply a cross-reference between the elements of place (e.g., landscape, monuments, etc.) and their participation in a story. The coverage of Identity, can be estimated by summing the individual stories. Both involve some form of tuning, through an iterative process, to get things right.
However, fullness of the narrative is just one criterion of the selection process.
I should include stories that go beyond visual presentation and include the other senses. Further, I would like to explore beyond the physical elements of place into the mental and conceptual dimensions.
Stories should be included that engage the viewer. However, the degree of engagement should vary, as I will also need to consider the pace of the art work as well. Pace in terms of the emotional impact delivered; pace in terms of the length or duration; pace in terms of the conceptual impact.
I will also consider the rendering of the story, specifically, I want to ensure that the resulting art work offers an appropriate blend of personal and archival elements.
Finally, I want to avoid needless, unplanned, duplication. Alternatively, I may use duplication as a tool to emphasize or highlight a point.
I expect these criteria to evolve as I work though the process.