January 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The power of photography lies in its ability to crystallize a set of complex relations and to fuse the intuitive with the intellectual. Let you eyes linger on this one for a while.
January 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The normally well considered Foreign Policy blog published a rather shoddy bit of journalism today under the title, Collaborate with WikiLeaks at your own risk. In the article, Joshua Keating tries to make the case that the WikiLeaks project is no longer able to protect its sources. He cites the arrest and detention of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier thought to be the source of the Afghan and Iraq war logs as well as the WikiLeaks cables, and of Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer by Swiss authorities after handing over two CDs of client data to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Yet, Manning’s arrest was the result of being turned in late last May by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Wikileaks, other than their publishing of the materials as Manning surely wished when he sent them to Wikileaks. Notably, his arrest occurred before the release of the Afghan and Iraq war logs, or the US embassy diplomatic cables.
Citing Elmer’s arrest as a example is even more bizarre, as Elmer held a press conference with Assange to show the handoff of bank account numbers. Moreover, his profile was already highly public, as only hours before his arrest Elmer was convicted of breaking Swiss banking laws. Keating acknowledges this, but then closes the article by questioning drawing non-existent parallels and attacking Wikileaks credibility:
But the fact that the sources behind WikiLeaks’ biggest revelations are winding up in jail — contradicting the site’s original stated purpose — doesn’t bode very well for its ability to continue attracting whistleblowers.
Why would the blog of a respected publication allow such flimsy reporting to get posted? Why would Keating put his name to this? It’s only the latest in a series of malicious articles attacking Wikileaks credibility without real grounding. Are these reporters jealous of all the scoops they didn’t get to first? Are they mad that instead of doing real investigative journalism, they’re sitting a desk writing “personal opinion” pieces that only reference other journalists work? There are certainly plenty of substantive areas on which to criticize Wikileaks, let raise the bar here and write pieces that back up their arguments with substantive facts.
January 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A brilliant stop motion animation by Wakefield’s own Nick Mahon. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of his work in the future.
January 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A must-read interview with Coppola. I love that despite the near sacred regard for films such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, for him it’s still so much about the act of filmmaking. He seems totally willing to make a bad movie, in the quest to do something new and exciting.
On money and art too, he takes a surprising perspective:
How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?
We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.
This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?
January 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Just finished a day of shooting in Siem Reap province. Interviewed this amazing 14 year-old girl, Plaot. She was born with birth defects that stunted her growth and make it very hard for her to walk, but she is so full of moxy! Despite chronic pain in her legs and severely curtailed mobility, she almost single-handedly takes care of her household while her older sister and brother-in-law labour in rice fields (parents are out of the picture). Not only that, but she’s really bright and brims with self-confidence, even around strange barangs with mics and camera lenses pointed in every direction. When I got her in front of the camera, she was a natural, giving me great emotive lines like she memorized them from my own imaginary script. It also helps that she’s got a ridiculously disarming smile that instantly sets you at ease.
Normally, children born with problems like hers don’t even get the chance to go to school at all – they’re kept at home for domestic work, little is expected of them. On top of that, noone in Plaot’s family can read or write, her sister dropped out in grade two and has been labouring in the rice field ever since. Despite Plaot’s condition, her sister put her in school, committed to seeing her get some kind of education. Then last year, she was selected for a take-home ration from the World Food Program (a 15kg food bonus to help keep poor kids in school for a long as possible). Now she’s a major bread-winner in her household, account for 1/2 the food the family eats each month.
I was sad to leave Plaot – the village she’s from, Kouk Trach, is a brutalizingly rough two hour ride from Siem Reap town. I don’t think she gets to leave very often. Her sister (who acts as her mother) says she’s going to try and keep her in school until grade 12, but has no idea how to raise the money. She’ll be covered by public funding for a few more grades, but I’m starting to hatch some plans to help her out down the road. Lots to think about, but it’s all technical challenges. Just have to figure out how much it’s cost and make a plan….
It may be naive but screw it.They say you can’t save everybody, and they’re right, but it doesn’t mean you can’t help anybody. I can’t accept that’s its naive to try and make a difference in one person’s life, even if it’s only a drop the bucket.
More to come on this later…
January 5, 2011 § 2 Comments
What a weekend! An open mind and an open road lead to unexpected adventures here in the Khmer Empire. A short list of highlights from the NYE weekend:
-renting motor bikes and cruising along winding ocean roads for a whole day
-riding out to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere (on said bikes) and getting taken through these ridiculously awesome caves by local children only to find buried deep inside, the ruins of a hidden buddhist temple inside,
-going out to the abandoned colonial casino resort of Bokor. Built in the 1920′s, it sits empty on the ridge of the highest mountain in the region (complete with bullet holes from when the Khmer Rouge used it as a hideout agains the Vietnamese),
-hiring a fisherman to take us to Rabbit island, a tiny spectacularly chilled out beach/fishing community, where we rented beach huts for 8 bucks a night and drank .75c beers
-going out to some Cambodian guys house for a new years pig roast and trying not to get killed by the small children wielding enormous handmade roman candles.
-ordering crab at a local market and watching the market lady pull up a trap, grab a crab (new dance move!) and puncture it’s brain with mangled fork
Crazy Cambodia for sure, but really the more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking that this adventure could just as easily have happened at home. There are countless little adventures waiting to be had in and around Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto, if only we could see these places like a traveller does. Just hop on a bike/jump in your car and wander around asking locals what hidden adventures they’ve got tucked away in their town. Be open and the world almost always seems to cough up a few golden opportunities.
That’s really all that travel tends to do, break up the patterns/ruts the define our lives at home. Left with nothing solid to depend upon, you go out in the world and cast about following whatever’s interesting to you. The key is to try replicate this attitude at home. Go to that part of the city you’ve never been to. Check out an opera. Find out what’s going on at the Armenian community centre around the corner. Pick a direction and head that way for two hours.