UW School of Architecture… Wow.

UW School of Architecture 002

Last Saturday morning, my daughter Arden and I trucked on down to Galt to check out the open house at UW’s School of Architecture. For those of you who don’t have kids in high school and/or aren’t exploring what comes after high school and what comes after that, March Break is post-secondary open house time.

Life is funny: I totally missed the turn on to Roseville Rd off Trussler and by the time I got turned around at Paris we landed 20 minutes late for the 10am orientation session. Serendipity, being as awesome as it can be, opened an opportunity for us to tour the undergrad studio with two first year students. Giulia and Caitlin, both about six months into the program and outstanding representatives for their school, answered a million questions (from me) and also took us through the library and the most amazing first-floor fabrication shop. Maker paradise.

We got back to the auditorium just in time for the next session with Ila Berman, O’Donovan Director of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Dr. Berman walked us through the most compelling slide deck I’ve ever seen, highlighting the hands-on course of study, international opportunities for co-op work, top notch faculty, famous alumni, and the kick-ass facility on the banks of the Grand River. A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend (and architect) Roger Farwell and mentioned that Arden was considering architecture. I asked if UW had a good school and he replied “They have an excellent school.” Everything I saw on Saturday confirmed that as an understatement.

Beyond my parental guidance role, I have to note this school as yet another gem of Waterloo Region. It’s a world-class school right in our back yard. And it’s been there for 11 years. Hopefully my newfound appreciation is old hat for you, dear reader. The community integration is evident in the student-run storefront space The Bridge just across the river. The school’s Expanded Practice lecture series is open to all. And I’m told the mayor hosts a barbeque for new students each fall.

This post wouldn’t be complete without thanks to Donna Woolcott, Undergraduate Student Services Coordinator, who organized this event and made us feel very welcome. What a great way to start a Saturday.

On Melville Street South, this is Galt.


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Giving a lite Lightroom workshop at the lab


Hey friends, I’m giving an intro workshop on Lightroom as part of my artist-in-residence gig at kwartzlab. Sunday March 29 7pm-9pm. There are seven spots left. It’s free-no-pay and if you sign up, you gotta show up. Hit the doodle if you want to join in. We’re capping the class at 15 people. Click through for deets.

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kwartzlab is people


This week at kwartzlab’s regular Tuesday Open Night, I gave a talk about my photobooth project for the artist-in-residence gig that I’ve been cranking away on since the beginning of the year. The TL;DR is that kwartzlab is people. It’s not the building, nor the tools, nor even the projects. It’s the people.

Back in 2009 when we were creating kwartzlab, I thought it would be a good idea to have a set of reasonably consistent portraits of all the members up on the wall. Every single thing that happens at the lab happens because somebody put the work in. The *volunteer* work. I wanted to reflect back to the group the delightful collective capacity of which they were each a part. I wanted to amplify the pride in what we had built and evenly distribute the sense of belonging within the group. I wanted to help answer those universal questions: What are we all about? What are we doing here?

Like lots of makerly projects, my 2009 effort kicked off with a fast and cheap proof of concept and then languished on the bench as I pushed other meta-maker work on my stack. Fast-forward to 2015 and the storytelling that was once my necessary past-time is now my business and passion. Happily, through the lab’s most excellent artist-in-residence program, I was able to re-animate that project. And instead of just shooting portraits of members, I decided to build a rig so members could ultimately shoot their own portraits. A photobooth of sorts. This let me get my maker-freak on, provided another tool for the lab, and will allow the group to update/add their own portraits and equip them to experiment. It also satisfies my penchant for meta-photography. What’s the old saying? Teach a maker to fish…

Above is a collection of portraits of makers, mostly from Tuesday night. Some are members and some are visitors. What they have in common: they showed up.

Click through for a few more build pics…

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Structur3D Printing in new digs

Structur3D visit at St Leger 169

It was almost a year ago that I met Charles Mire and Andrew Finkle of Structur3D Printing. I had heard they were by kwartzlab and chatting about their paste extruder attachment for 3D printers, but I only met them in person when they joined the Communitech HYPERDRIVE accelerator program. Communitech’s Director of Editorial Strategy, Tony Reinhart, asked me to do a story on Structur3D. One story turned into two as we discovered that both Structur3D and I were on our way to San Mateo, California in May for Maker Faire. More recently, upon graduation from HYPERDRIVE, Structur3D moved into their new home over on St. Leger Street just a few blocks from the Hub.

I bumped into Charles last week and he said to come by on Friday afternoon for a beer. So I did. Above, I had Andrew model the holy trinity of local startups: company t-shirt, the requisite tech-uniform hoodie, and the engineer’s iron ring from UW.

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Hub Haps #017-our destination

Headphones on, medium volume. Puttin’ some familiar flavour in yer ear.

Me being a photographer, you might reasonably assume that I’m visually driven. True, but I’m also a keen consumer of ambient sound. I think of places I frequent as having a palette of sounds. A sound signature of sorts. Work places in particular have very distinctive sounds: the click of the door strike, the bleep when someone joins your conference call, the hiss of the coffee machine, the whirr of the paper towel dispenser, the elevator bing. The example above is particularly delightful because of the long rumbling decay that rattles on long after you think it’s done.

Alright, Hubsters, where is this? And what other sounds define the Hub?

A friend of mine, David Jensenius, explores sound in his art and in fact we talked about ambient sound palettes right here at the Hub during the Fluxible conference last year. David created an iPhone app called FoundSounds that allows you to capture, geotag, and share environmental sounds. It also allows people to take a “sound walk” and experience previously shared sound based on location. iPhone-deficients like me will have to continue to share sounds the hard way.

Like all of my best gigs, I learned a few things trying to capture the clip above. I shot this on my BlackBerry Z30 mounted to a tripod and it can be pretty painstaking to square up the shot. Also learned that –32C windchill makes even 5-minute shoots painful. Speaking of wind, it can totally overwhelm the microphones and obliterate the audio you’re actually trying to capture (click through for my no-cost fix for that issue). Over the course of three separate shoots on this, I discovered that my coat makes a *crink* sound every time I turn my head to see if traffic is passing by. I also have an intermittent habit of talking to my gear, which undesirably shows up in the audio track. I learned Adobe Premiere Pro has an occasional fit and becomes convinced your media is offline. And finally, I learned (again) the necessity of recording a chunk of ambient location sound without the specific “action” that you’re going for. If we’re learning, we’re winning.

Click through for the reveal and a makerly tip on recording audio outdoors with your phone.

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Hub Haps #016-Thalmic test-driving a variety of arms

Thalmic at the Hub 002

I caught Victor Janzen helping out brand ambassador Deviya from Thalmic today at the Hub. Thalmic had multiple teams on site and no shortage of willing participants. The goal was to collect sample data from a variety of users wearing the Myo.

Click through for a few more pics…

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1shot #219-FOUND

UW maker study wrapup lunch 021

The absurd work requires an artist conscious of these limitations and an art in which the concrete signifies nothing more than itself. It cannot be the end, the meaning, and the consolation of a life.

Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1955

Driving across Victoria to the Hub, I saw this sign on a post at Lawrence Ave last week. Didn’t have time to shoot it then, but today I stopped, and climbed into a snow drift so I could capture this thing that had me thinking since I saw it. The “FOUND” is so bold and the picture or description of the found thing is almost completely obliterated. It seemed like an Existentialist’s poster. Man, I could riff philosophically all day, but I’ll have to settle for this post.

I see art everywhere.


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UW maker study wraps up and looks forward

UW maker study wrapup lunch 007

Remember that UW study in the make-o-sphere that kicked off around this time last year? Well, it came to a successful conclusion very recently and we all met up for lunch yesterday to celebrate. Here is PhD student Katie Kish with Professors Jason Hawreliak (now at Brock) and Stephen Quilley (UW) who drove the study.

Funded by a modest grant from the Metcalf Foundation, this posse connected with various partners to run four makerly workshops to teach everything from welding to sewing to electronics to woodworking. I’m not an academic, but I think it’s safe to say that equipping folks who wouldn’t consider themselves makers with hands-on skills results in all sorts of positive outcomes. The good news is: this is just the start. The group has plans to build on this proof of concept, not only studying but also supporting a maker ethos right here in Waterloo Region and more specifically within the context of the university. Outstanding. Follow their progress on the ReMaker Society site.

One of the first things I did when I was engaged in an advisory role is to loop in my other peeps including my pal Agnes Niewiadomski who ended up running the sewing workshop at kwartzlab. Also pitching in, particularly with guidance on women in the make-o-sphere were my good friends Stephanie Rozek, Cat Coode, and Dinah Davis. I was happy to connect Cam Turner and his Maker Club effort to this project as well. So good to have smart friends. Good on the Guelph makers with Diyode for pitching in, too.

All this goodness is intersecting with the increasing number of students I’m seeing down at kwartzlab which can only indicate rising awesomeness here in WR.



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iLL EVANS funk-hip-hop-jazz fusion at AbeErb

iLL Evans at AbeErb 103

Musicians are a lot like photographers: we practice our craft, we put the work out there, we engage the audience, and we try to figure out how to get paid. Just like venues book bands, you can book me for photoshoots. This 2-hour shoot would be $400 and deliver several dozen high-resolution, non-watermarked images for unrestricted use. For an additional fee I can do a write-up for you. If you want product or ambient shots, with space to drop in copy for promo material, I can make that happen. My blog is my portfolio, and since you’re reading this, you already know the quality of the work and my approach. Hit me on email / twitter / facebook / linkedin.

Complete serendipity intersected last Thursday’s Brother Night with AbeErb with the unique jam of iLL Evans. Brohemus and I were out to raise a glass to his dog Poppy who passed away the night before. Melancholy gave way to some great porter on the guest taps and great music at our front row table. Above, we’ve got Chris Hull (drums), Matt Sotnik (keys), Scott Alton (bass), Dakota Stewart (guitar), and Nate Payne (vocals/sax).

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Dixieland jazz for Valentine’s Day

KW Dixieland Jazz Club 186

Been here twenty years; just discovered the KW Dixieland Jazz Club. How does that happen?

Hit the Legion on Regina Street in Uptown Waterloo on Saturday, on the advice of my good friend Tony Reinhart. Said he on Friday: you gotta check out the jazz happening there, and bring your camera. What I found was three sets delivered by six players from Red Hot Ramble plus guests. I caught this photo above of the multi-talented Roberta Hunt as she leapt up from the piano. Alison Young was on sax, Glenn Anderson drums, Jack Zorawski bass, with Brigham Phillips on trumpet and Chris Butcher playing trombone.

Awesome experience with a different angle of jazz for me. The house was packed, the mixed drinks were $4.50, and the crowd was loving it. Y’all know my mission to get WR off their sofas and into the community. When I hit gigs like this, I think: I’ve found my people!

A few more pics…

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