Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dick Bourgeois-Doyle skewering and celebrating Canadian politics and history

You can listen to the full interview here; thanks to CIUT FM for originally broadcasting the discussion.

Dick Bourgeois-Doyle started his career as a rock and roll DJ, before following a winding road leading to his current role as Director of Corporate Governance at the National Research Council. Perhaps it's this atypical trajectory that contributes to his outsider's perspective, and his keenness for exposing the absurdity in Canada's bureaucratic systems.

In this interview, he speaks about his book Il Principio, which is modelled after Machiavelli's The Prince, and The Most Strategic, Integrated & Aligned Servant of the Public Don Quincy de la Mangement, modelled after Don Quixote, both of which he situated in the Canadian Parliamentary system. The books are really funny, and a touch depressing, in their accurate depiction of Ottawa; hopefully you'll find the interview equally entertaining.

More of Dick's writing can be found on his blog:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alisa Palmer on gluttony, multiple solitudes, and theatre

Please listen to the interview here; thanks to CIUT FM for originally broadcasting this interview.

Alisa Palmer was named the new Director of the National Theatre School's English Section in October, and she took over the position in January of 2013. She spoke about gluttony as a commonly attempted antidote to social alienation; about incarceration, and threatening negative consequences, as misguided strategies for cultivating civilized behaviour; and about theatre.

Many thanks to Alisa Palmer for an engaging and highly animated discussion--hope you enjoy.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Raymond Biesinger on commercial-arts doom and gloom

Please listen to the entire interview here; thanks to CIUT FM for originally broadcasting the conversation.

A musician in the Famines and a self-taught illustrator, Raymond Biesinger's CV is very impressive: he’s published in the New Yorker and The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Le Monde, Monocle, and has contributed to ad campaigns and commercial projects for some of the world’s best-known companies. Check out his website at

With a style of illustration that's been described as  mechanical, and inhuman, he's built a committed following on his strength in distilling subjects as enormous as the First World War into two- and three-colour conceptual images which, in their stark rationality, communicate deeply.

He's a thinker, and he's thought about the consequences of hobbyism on creative industry, about the burgeoning culture of 'free' on intellectual property rights. Hope you enjoy listening to the conversation.

Dr. Gregory Ramshaw on the commodification of nostalgia

Please listen to the entire interview here; many thanks to CIUT FM for originally broadcasting the discussion.

Gregory Ramshaw is an assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University, South Carolina. He has taught and written and extensively about the social and cultural implications of heritage-based tourist attractions, with a particular focus on sport heritage sites. Prior to life in the academy, he worked at western Canada’s largest living history museum, dressing up in costume and pretending it was 1846 for the visiting tourists (which is--full disclosure--where we first met. Best. Job. Ever).

Greg first introduced the distinction between history and heritage (a difference in temperature: cold versus warm), then dug into some of the many purposes heritage serves in Western culture. Specifically, heritage contributes to the construction and prioritization of particular narratives within a society's culture. Consequently, it's a valuable asset for governments of various levels, corporations of various sizes--oh, and the sports teams themselves (in this example), who play the roles, enact the storylines, and become the subjects of grand shared metaphors.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ted Bilyea on food doom and gloom

If you missed it on CIUT FM, please listen to the full interview here

Ted Bilyea is the past President of Maple Leaf Foods International, a Director on the board of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, and a Director for PrioNet Canada. We spoke about the history of food production, from subsistence farming to industrial-scale agricultural production, and the challenges facing the industry, and our species, as a result. The images bleow, which are illustrative of his points, are taken (from the most part) from powerpoints he's delivered on the subject.

Scary stuff.

Livestock population density

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Clayton Cubitt AKA Siege, January 31, 2013

Please listen to the entire interview here.

Clayton Cubitt (whose father is Canadian, not his mother, as was reported) is a photographer, videographer, and writer perhaps best known for his work with Nerve magazine and his Operation Eden. He's also pithy. When speaking about online personal privacy, for instance (a notion he describes as both "quaint" and "obsolete"), in comparison to corporate communications, he says:

"I think a corporation is a beautiful thing to look at. I think it's like a great white shark--it's something you have to admire for its primal, evolutionary deadliness."

And when speaking about the harmony he creates in his work by balancing radically different esthetics, he says "The source of life, for me, is the simultaneous existence of both the tragic and the sublime. I think the two can't exist without each other, and that informs all of my work."

So it was an occasionally uncomfortable, eye-opening experience speaking with him about his work, which documents clashing cultures and challenges common definitions of art. Most people dismiss something as 'art' when it's too out-there. In Cubitt's case, though, many dismiss his work as not-art because they do get it--or they get the surface, anyway. But hiding under the in-your-face is much measured contemplation, so our conversation did not go as I'd expected.

We started by discussing Lagos Calling, his re-imagining of skinhead culture as if it had emerged in Nigeria, instead of working-class England (the project was also, incidentally, the inspiration for Gnarls Barkley's video for "Going On"). Naturally, in a conversation about cultural cross-pollination, M.I.A. came up, as did Die Antwoord. If you want to talk about tragedy and the sublime, or a hyper-glossy truly refined presentation of gritty material, they are it. And if you've never checked out any of their stuff, 1) don't do it at work, 2) hold on tight, and 3) watch this, too. They've come a long way from this.

When I first saw the video for "Enter the Ninja," the graphics made me think of a Keith Haring work, just with less sunshine. Cubitt corrected me, saying it's more in the tradition of Roger Ballen; Roger Ballen's photography (which can also be accessed here) makes me think of Diane Arbus' work, and her name alone is enough to remind me of the cover of a great album from back in the day (which the band plagiarized), but I digress--the interview is edited for concision.

All of this to say Cubitt has great ability (as a result of a long steeping in this idea) to convey a subject's deeper meaning using photography, which is, necessarily, a superficial medium. Portraits are decreasingly conveying character or identity, Cubitt has argued, because people are growing increasingly sophisticated at projecting their personal brands in photography. With Facebook and Instagram etc., most of us have favourite poses, expressions, camera-angles, and even locations for images of ourselves, which is great in that it raises the general esthetic sensibilities of the population, but it  confounds the communication of deeper meaning.

Building on Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, which are essentially moving-picture portraits (rather than stills) intended to capture more of the subject's personality, he's experimented with a number of novel means of penetrating our outer gloss. From his own Long Portraits to the Hysterical Literature project, which is illuminating and very well documented--I'd suggest giving yourself ample some time to explore that link (and again: best not done at work)--Cubitt explodes the traditional intellectual limitations of photography and videography.

I asked him about what role he understands consent to play in these pieces, but I don't think I asked the question properly. I'm still curious about the role agency plays in the self-discovery his subjects report as a result of being rendered hysterically illiterate. Do we need to choose to participate, choose to submit to the experience in order to gain enlightenment? Or could the physicality of our intellectual existence be impressed upon us by another? Dalton Trumbo gave thought to the subject, but I'm less keen to be his guinea pig.

Many thanks to CIUT for airing the interview!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Paul Rosen, January 24, 2013

Please listen here.

Paul Rosen is a broadcaster, motivational speaker, and Paralympic gold medalist.

The Olympic Committee has offered several times to replace his medal's ribbon, but he's turned them down every time--he says the wear is just evidence of all it's been through. It's also a tidy metaphor for the challenges and accomplishments in his own history.

Over the course of this hour, Paul speaks candidly about losing his leg, about being the oldest rookie in the history of sledge hockey, and about how his own struggles with depression and illiteracy motivated him to work with groups helping prevent suicides, and improve adult literacy.

He also speaks about the NHL lockout and Lance Armstrong in this interview, though in light of all that's happened since it was recorded in November of 2012, he might have changed his mind on a few things.

Please listen here; hope you enjoy, and always eager to hear your thoughts.