Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FOUND Photobooth, week 4

I found this strip of photos left in the dispenser of the photobooth in West Edmonton Mall in the summer of 2006. This is what I see:

Lewis is turning eleven in four days but his birthday party is tomorrow. His mother, Gary’s wife sent them to the mall to get last minute party supplies and one gift that Lewis could pick-out himself. For the last four years, Gary’s job has required him to be on business trips half of the time and work long days the other half. Unbeknownst to Lewis, his mother arranged this excursion for some father-son bonding.

Lewis was named after his maternal grandfather. It won't be until early adulthood that Lewis will realize he has lived his whole life with others wishing he was someone else. His unique combination of God-given skills makes him a rare gem, but his uniqueness makes others uneasy. Throughout his life his parents, teachers and friends have tried to condition or tweak him to fit into the norm. It started in Kindergarten when his teacher found his quick-wittedness and joie-de-vivre disruptive to the class, to remedy this he was diagnose
d and treated for ADHD.

Gary is known as a no nonsense kinda guy. He is good at his job because other men trust his him for his stoicism and directness. Gary does not like clutter, excess or over indulgence, as these are all signs of weakness. This made it difficult for Gary to be in a place like West Edmonton Mall, an international landmark for frivolity. When a toy would catch Lewis’ eye and excitement instantly spread across his face, a small part of Gary recoiled at the dissimilarities between he and his only son. But today was nearly the kid’s birthday, so when Lewis saw the photobooth and asked if they could use it, Gary thought for a moment and said “Sure, kiddo.”

Gary was surprised by the weight of his kid on his lap. He reached over Lewis to insert the coins and then leaned backward, not caring too much to be in the photos himself. The adrenaline from the new experience took a hold of Lewis and in a few awkward seconds he spontaneously tried to find a new pose for each shot. Gary was amused but also felt bombarded with energy.

Once the flashes finished Lewis popped out of the booth ran in circles, accompanied by sound effects in the area. At first Gary was embarrassed for the way Lewis was acting, but as he tried to tame him without success, he grew embarrassed for his own lack of parental authority. He felt the eyes of other parents upon him while Lewis’ spectacle grew more and more attention. He was uncomfortable and gradually growing angry for having been made uncomfortable.

“We’re going.” Gary said sternly.

Lewis stopped his faux karate chops to rebuttal “But the pictures aren’t ready yet!”

“I don’t care. The stupid machine is broken, its taking forever.”

“It says it needs three minutes.” Pointing to the sign on the booth.

“It’s been three minutes.” To Gary it had felt like three minutes, but in reality it was still shy of forty-five seconds. “Anyway, we’re going, your mom is expecting us back.”

Lewis felt and then fought the urge to cry. Gary could see it in his face and remembered having that feeling himself as a boy but was not interested in exploring it in public place.

“Come’on, you’re almost eleven, act your age. We’re going home.”

Two minutes later the photobooth dropped a strip of black and white photos of a man and a boy into the dispenser.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing Right: Investigating Genetics

Recently in the mail, I was happy to receive a handwritten letter and mix CD from my brother in Scotland. I don’t think he would be offended by me saying that he has brutal penmanship. When deciphering his thoughtful letter I realized that by now my right hand is probably neater than his right hand (and he is right handed). As a little experiment, I’ve re-written sections of my brother’s letter with my right hand at my quickest and most natural pace. What do you think about the differences?

This has got me thinking about sampling my other family members for their handwriting. My parents, two sisters, two brothers and I all have very different printing but I have a new hypothesis that my right hand printing (with probably another six months practice) will resemble theirs more than my current left hand printing. I’m conjuring up some new experiments to go along with my daily writing lessons and suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

FOUND Photobooth, week 3

I found this photo in the City Centre mall in Edmonton during the summer of 2005. Unlike the other photos in the series, I was there while these photos were taken and so myself and a friend are also characters in the story. This is what I see:

Marco and Amanda had being going out for almost 3 months but they had known each other for years. Marco was school friends with Amanda’s oldest brother. Marco had always dated women who were at least five years younger than him, this trend however went unnoticed by Marco. He was in fact, unaware of many of his tendencies. In high school he wore a large backpack on the bus that would swing into the faces of seated people. On elevators he stands unmoving in the exact middle, forcing others to awkwardly manoeuvre around him. He believes in Heaven, he believes in soccer, he believes fatherhood is the most important thing a man can do with his life.

The couple had just watched The Dukes of Hazzard, starring Jessica Simpson and decided to use the photobooth near the cinema. Amanda was not impressed to find two teenaged girls in the booth with clothing and props scattered everywhere.

“What’s happening in here girls? A fashion show?” She chortled.

The girls, slightly embarrassed cleared the booth and continued to plan their next costumed photostrip a few feet away, near the garbage bin.

Amanda sat on Marco’s lap as they flirted and posed their way through four flashes. They teased each other as the photos were mechanically dipped in and out of various chemicals. Three minutes later Marco spotted and grabbed the developed photos behind Amanda’s back. In a split second he did a quick assessment of the candid photos, guarding them from his girlfriend. Marco abruptly ripped the third photo out from the strip, tore it into six tiny pieces and threw the fragments into the garbage bin, the pictures not even dry yet.

Amanda pestered him, “I want to see! I want to see! Why’d you do that?!”

Marco disdainfully replied, “My eyes were closed.”

“Oh.” She replied, understanding that this was a normal thing to do.

Once out of earshot, the brown haired teenager said to the blonde teenager, “Can I have it?”
Her friend had who had the same impulse to retrieve it, replied “Yes.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

FOUND Photobooth, week 2

I found this strip of photos left in the dispenser of the photobooth in Northland Village Mall in Calgary in the spring of 2009. This is what I see:

Kathy is a receptionist at a dental clinic, she excels at her profession with her exceptional organizational and small-chat skills. Drew’s mother is Dr. Marter, the newest dentist to join the team. About once every two weeks he would stop by the office on an errand for his mother. However, as time progressed, it seemed that the universe was finding reasons for him to visit the office more regularly. One Tuesday as Kathy was getting ready to leave for her lunch break Drew came by to see if his mother was free for lunch. Dr. Marter was with a patient but Kathy expressed that she would be delighted to have his company. As they sat in Swiss Chalet, discussing his future goals and her messy divorce they both felt tiny seeds inside them sprouting.

Kathy had promised her son, Oliver that they would pick out a new TV together before summer started and so she asked Drew, who was working full-time at Futureshop, if he could give her some advice. Drew replied that he would be happy to and that he could even get her a big discount. Pleased, they arranged at time to meet at the mall when they were both off work.

A week later, distracted, anxious & exhilarated, Kathy left work quickly to pick Oliver up from his after school club. They met Drew at the entrance of the mall and passed the photobooth on the way to Futureshop. An impulse overtook Kathy, she insisted they go in and after some hesitancy and negotiation Drew and Oliver complied. They planned the sequence of photos, reserving the last two for just Kathy and Drew so they could each have a copy. The blub flashed and for ten seconds everyone was happy, numb and tingly.

The moment was soon broken when Kathy’s cellphone rang. It was Oliver’s stepmother, she was supposed to pick him up that day and was hysterical over an important matter. Plucked from the ecstasy of the moment, Kathy, flustered and embarrassed realized she and Oliver must go at once. She apologized, offered an explanation, asked for a rain check and said goodbye in one long blurry sentence. Not waiting for Drew's response, she and Oliver walked briskly out of the mall. Drew digested what had just happened and in a trance left the photobooth as its insides were still rumbling.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kaleidoscope Diversions

I’m still working on the part 2 of the FOUND Photobooth series so I thought instead I would post some photos I took through a kaleidoscope. As far as pass-times and procrastination strategies go this is far more entertaining than watching online videos. Here are three collages of objects I photographed, to the right is a television and below are a wooden basket and a piano. I think next I’ll do some self-portraits!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

FOUND Photobooth

FOUND Photobooth is a new 10 week series showcasing my favourites from my photobooth collection along with my narrative interpretation of them. I’ll update the blog every Sunday. Feel welcome to leave comments of your own observations!

I found this strip of photos on the floor of a photobooth in West Edmonton Mall in the summer of 2010. This is what I see:

The girl, Jenny, is 17 years old and tries to maintain a sunny disposition. Her t-shirt that reads “Dream of Sunshine” is not unique in her wardrobe. Jenny and Tom, the boy, have been friends since childhood. Their mother’s met at church when they were toddlers and arranged many play dates. Jenny and Tom grew up as close friends but the dynamic of their friendship changed when they began at the same high school. She is in jazz band and taking two foreign language classes. He is an amateur smoker but still does not consider himself too cool for school dances. They only nod or smile at each other in the hallways but still spend the occasional weekend or evening together.

As their grade 11 year was coming to a close, one night Tom kissed Jenny in his basement. He also touched her breasts a little. They never spoke of the moment but they both thought of it often. This created a quickly
escalating awkward tension. After the incident, whenever Tom caught himself saying something flirtatious to Jenny, he ‘corrected’ it by then saying something hurtful, which was easy with his knowledge of her insecurities.

When Jenny saw the photobooth in the mall she imagined tucking her half of the photos in the frame of her mirror, this delighted her. She inserted the coins before they had negotiated the seating arrangement. Tom felt it was only appropriate that she sit on his lap. Jenny interpreted his insistence not as a romantic gesture but as a mockery of her weight. Once the photos were developed, made upset by the reality they presented, Jenny discarded them to the booth floor. Tom followed her as she walked off.

(click strip to view detail)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Two Hands Two Crowns Contest Winner!

Jack from the United Kingdom is the contest winner! I like his stream of consciousness approach to list writing and I also want to personally try some of his suggestions. His list is posted below (for the North American readers, in the UK candy often comes in paper or plastic tubes.) Jack picked the lion button for his prize.

ways to make art in everyday life

-Put sweety tubes on your pets legs for an interactive "robot" installation
-While waiting in a ticketed que imagine you are playing the national lottery (to increase chances of winning take many tickets)
-Video the suffering from a hangover and edit it into an "Exorcist remake"
-frame used loo-roll as expressionist painting
-Cut holes in the crotches of your trousers to make effective and fasionable jumpers.
-Speak at half your normal speed, hey presto a David Lynch eerie dialogue
-Talk to a stranger
-Be very, very messy when applying mustard and ketchup to things
-Walk slowly backwards with a video camera then watch it rewind to create the effect of walking forwards.
-Walk forwards with a video camera then watch it in rewind to give the impression of walking quickly backwards
-When using skype on an Ipad put it to your ear and pretend you are a midget with an Iphone
-Pretend you are a giant by treating your Iphone as an Ipad

Thanks to everyone who contributed a list, more contests to come in the Spring!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing Right: One Month Mark!

I’ve been practicing writing and drawing with my right hand for one month now! One of the things I’m doing to measure progress is recording a video of myself drawing the Two Hands Two Crowns logo on the first day of the month. The new video is up, check it out! Also here are some lists related to my new pass-time.


1. It is surprisingly fun, I look forward to my lesson every day!
2. When I practice in a waiting room or on a bus, people can’t help but stare and formulate ideas. I assume they assume I grew up in the wild and just enrolled in elementary school.
3. Cursive is easier than printing because you don’t have to lift the pen, however is doesn’t look as neat.
4. Its very annoying to write while wearing a watch, I’ve started removing it before each lesson.
5. When drawing with both hands, even if my brain can send two messages to my hands, I still only have one set of eyes.
6. I hold pens differently in my left hand than I do in my right, soon as a let my right hand hold a pen the way it wanted to, things got easier.
7. When using both hands simultaneously, drawing is easier if the hands are mirroring each other, however, when writing it is easier if the hands are doing the same action.
8. I’m mildly better at basic mental math, perhaps this is because of my left brain is more simulated.
9. It’s not hard to make your printing look perfect, but very difficult to make it look perfect while writing at a reasonable speed.
10. On February 9th, CBC’s radio program Q featured Gwendolyn Bounds, a specialist who talked about the benefits of handwriting on the brain. This made me feel infinitely superior to the average person.


1. Designating one day every week where I only write with my right hand.
2. More simultaneous exercises, both mirrored and identical motions.
3. Start making the switch from pencil to pen.

The image above is of a simultaneous lettering, when I did it I kept my eyes mostly on the right sheet, trusting my left hand to know what it was doing. Normally (when writing with just one hand at a time) my penmanship is at least twice as good as what you see there. It seems by ordering my brain to do two tasks at once, each task is executed at half its normal quality. Interesting!