C/O Esra Rakab

The QTCC provides an online space for racialized 2SLGBTQ+ students to gather and build community

McMaster University’s Queer and Trans Colour Club is a place for racialized 2SLGBTQIA+ students to connect and thrive both academically and socially at McMaster. Even while clubs remained online for the fall semester of 2021, the QTCC found avenues for students to connect. Their online workshops and their educational Instagram posts shared tips for mindfulness and how to deal with living at home during online school and the holidays. 

In the fall, the QTCC held a variety of online events to encourage students to connect with one another, including a midterm destress session and their most recent workshop, A Very Queer Study Session, in which students studied together over Zoom using the Pomodoro method. The workshop also provided space to discuss mindfulness techniques and how to manage stress at home during the holidays as a 2SLGBTQIA+ student.  

The workshop also provided space to discuss mindfulness techniques and how to manage stress at home during the holidays as a 2SLGBTQIA+ student. 

The President of QTCC, Emma Zhang, who helped run the workshop, shared her experience at the study session and some of the tips they gave for the holiday season. 

“We leave a reminder: it’s important for us to support each other in finding ways to cope with this. [T]hen we open the floor to everyone to see what tips they could have in terms of what worked for them and then we will go with what tips we have. For example, if you can, connect to the people who could affirm your identity and community. It can be online through game nights or meeting up in person,” said Zhang. 

For example, if you can, connect to the people who could affirm your identity and community. It can be online through game nights or meeting up in person.

Emma Zhang, QTCC President

The QTCC is continuing their events in the new year with educational information for aromantic spectrum awareness week, a coffee house they host annually at the end of February. Last year, the event was hosted online.  

“Last year, we had, of course, spoken word. Also, we had people who shared their screen to show their paintings and I think some were more abstract and some were personal. Also, some people performed songs and dances that were important to them,” said Zhang. 

In the month of February, the QTCC is also busy promoting educational information on their social media about Black History Month in collaboration with the Black Students’ Association.  

Zhang spoke about how the QTCC hopes to provide tips on how to connect with others platonically on Valentine’s Day. 

“Specifically for our Valentine's Day post, we're hoping to also provide some resources where people can connect platonically and we hope to address the topic of what it means to have a clear platonic relationship because as you know, queer relationships and timelines don't really look identical to a cishet timeline,” explained Zhang. 

Through every online workshop and post, QTCC is fostering a community for racialized 2LGBTQIA+ students, allowing them to still feel connected to their peers even if most students are stuck at home. 

“We leave the floor and the freedom to our attendees to choose what they want to do to build the community that they want to see and I think that that is pretty powerful. And generally having a sense of solidarity of seeing people like them on the screen with them doing similar things, that's pretty helpful. I think personally, I've benefited from that,” said Zhang.  

C/O Nick Fewings, Unsplash

YWCA Hamilton workshops address unique mental health experiences among 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers

Just a few months ago, Canada was experiencing a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and life was finally beginning to feel normal again. More Canadians were becoming fully vaccinated against the virus, further restrictions were loosening and McMaster University students were expecting an in-person start of the winter semester. 

However, case counts, reopening plans and holiday trips all took a sharp turn with the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and concerns around mental health in the pandemic were again exacerbated. 

In response to the ongoing mental health challenges, YWCA Hamilton’s Join program, Speqtrum and the RISE Collective hosted a three-part workshop with guest speaker Abrar Mechmechia, a mental health counsellor based in Hamilton, on navigating mental health for 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers from November to January. 

The Join program is a settlement program for women, youth and 2SLGBTQIA+ immigrants; Speqtrum is a skill-sharing and community building program for 2SLGBTQIA+ youths; and the RISE Collective is a youth-led collective for women, non-binary and gender fluid youths.

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The first workshop of the series on Nov. 17 discussed pandemic exhaustion and its impact on mental health. 

“[We] talked about noticing our bodies and . . . skills and reflections we could be doing to better understand our inner self,” said Noura Afify, 2SLGBTQIA+ Newcomer Youth Support Worker.

“[We] talked about noticing our bodies and . . . skills and reflections we could be doing to better understand our inner self,”

Noura Afify, 2SLGBTQIA+ Newcomer Youth Support Worker

The second workshop on Dec. 1 addressed the effects of trauma and triggers on mental health. For many 2SLGBTQIA+ newcomers and other marginalized folks, pandemic fatigue compounded with pre-existing trauma results in unique mental health challenges. 

The third workshop on Jan. 5 focused on self-coping tools and how to navigate the mental health system. 

At the workshops, Mechmechia also shared some of her findings from a survey of youths between the ages 15-29 in Canada to measure the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and well-being of marginalized youth and identify accessibility barriers to mental health services. 

The preliminary findings from the survey highlighted key issues in accessibility of mental health services, financial barriers, lack of cultural competency, ineffective treatment, stigma and academic support. 

For instance, 98% of respondents reported receiving long-term affordable care was a challenge. Cultural incompetency also led to folks being unable to access or not seeking help again. Those in school or post-secondary education reported increases in workload and the need for peer support programs. 

The survey was a part of Mechmechia’s In This Together campaign, which launched in February 2021, to call on the federal and provincial governments to establish a post-pandemic mental health recovery plan for youths, especially for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of colour, newcomers, disabled or 2SLGBTQIA+.

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Based on the research, Mechmechia and team highlighted the importance of increasing affordability and accessibility of mental health services, investing in ethnocultural services and providers and offering holistic support. They have also written an open letter to the government outlining recommendations to improve the current mental health support for youth, including the implementation of the post-pandemic mental health recovery plan. The letter has been endorsed by over 300 folks. 

Despite the low turnout to the newcomer workshop series which took place on Zoom and challenges using interpreters for group sessions, Afify says it was well-received by the folks who participated.

“Folks were sharing and opening up. They were also understanding each other and compassionate towards each other sharing. I really enjoyed that part and that to me is a success in itself — that folks felt safe enough in this space to share and explore ideas and exchange information about how we cope differently and accept,” said Afify.

"I really enjoyed that part and that to me is a success in itself — that folks felt safe enough in this space to share and explore ideas and exchange information about how we cope differently and accept,"

Noura Afify, 2SLGBTQIA+ Newcomer Youth Support Worker

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental health are leading to a global mental health crisis. Particularly for marginalized folks who are already healing from or dealing with existing traumas, the added stress and complexity of the pandemic has created further burden and barriers. The past workshops are one of the many programs and services offered by the YWCA, Speqtrum, RISE Collective and the In This Together campaign to address this challenge. 

There are workshops and events lined up for newcomers, youth, women and folks in marginalized communities every day at the YMCA. Speqtrum will also have a session on navigating gender affirming healthcare with live interpretations for newcomers and an at-home treasure hunt coming up. 

Photo by Hannah Walters-Vida / Editor-In-Chief

By Nathan Todd, Contributor

This year, Ontario has seen significant and damaging cuts to funding for students, student associations, universities and the public employees who keep universities and communities running. 

Many of you may have already felt the impact of these changes — there are already reports of students who are no longer able to attend university because of the elimination of some Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants. In addition, the Student Choice Initiative left student and graduate associations scrambling over the summer in attempts to prepare for and minimize the funding cuts that the SCI would bring.

Teaching assistants who are often students are not immune to these negative effects. As students, we are affected by the cuts to OSAP, and as members of either the McMaster Students Union or the Graduate Students Association, we are also members of associations facing considerable budget cuts. On top of this, our ongoing rounds of bargaining with McMaster University for a new employment contract, among other things, threatens to leave us in an even more precarious situation. 

As public employees, we are also now facing Bill 124, a proposed piece of legislation which would mandate that our wage increases do not exceed one per cent, an amount that does not keep up with the cost of inflation. In other words, Bill 124 effectively mandates that we take pay cuts over the next three years.

To put this in a better context, graduate TAs who work 260 hours (which is usually the most a TA can work at Mac) earn less than $11,500 for the year, and undergraduate TAs earn considerably less than that. This is not enough to balance the tuition we need to pay in order to have access to the job in the first place. Given these circumstances, increases to our wages and benefits are always a priority for us in bargaining. Unfortunately, McMaster is not willing to entertain an agreement that wouldn’t conform to Bill 124 should the bill become law. Therefore, meaningful wage increases seem to be a non-starter for the university.

Beyond Bill 124, McMaster is also looking to roll back the amount of hours TAs are entitled to work, making our ability to pay for tuition and keep up with the cost of living even more difficult. 

Wage increases are not our only priority. One of the top priorities we identified before heading into bargaining was paid job-specific and anti-oppressive training for TAs. As it stands, there is no training for TAs. This means that they are learning how to run labs, teach tutorials, mentor and grade on the job! In asking for paid training, we are not asking for anything you wouldn’t expect from working in an office, a high school or a McDonald’s.

McMaster, however, is unsure if paid TA training is feasible. Let me repeat that: A university isn’t sure if it is feasible to teach people how to teach.

As a TA of about five years, I think we do a good job. But running tutorials and grading the assignments that go on to impact the lives of undergraduates is serious, professional work. As TAs, we recognize that. This is why we are asking for professional training to ensure that undergraduates are getting the highest quality teaching possible. Not only would paid training help TAs financially, but it would also benefit us professionally and it would benefit the students who rely on us.

If our bargaining continues to stall, there is a chance you will get messages from McMaster or members in the community about TAs being difficult or that what we are asking for is unreasonable. If this happens, please keep in mind that we are asking for things that any reasonable professional ought to — the ability to keep up with the cost of inflation and the proper training to do our jobs.

Given the attacks that university members have seen through the cuts to OSAP, the Student Choice Initiative and the looming Bill 124, it is more important than ever that we collectively resist attacks on the most vulnerable. McMaster claims it is committed to making a “Brighter World” – TAs and students deserve to be part of it.

Nathan Todd is the President of CUPE 3906

 

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Photo C/O Grant Holt

By: Neda Pirouzmand

The university has banned the consumption of cannabis on campus, but the McMaster Centre for Continuing Education, Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research and Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medical Cannabis Research have combined efforts to pilot a new “Science of Cannabis” program.

Science of cannabis is going to be a three-course program that will meet the needs of health and community professionals, educators, civil servants and individuals with personal interest.

The first course of the program, Fundamentals of Cannabis Science, begins on May 13 and will run until July 21.  

Lorraine Carter, director of the CCE, emphasized the evidence-based nature and relevance of the program.

“The fundamentals course is an important introduction to the general history and science of cannabis, and sets the stage for subsequent courses focused on therapeutic interventions and the risks associated with cannabis use,” said Carter. “In all, grounded in contemporary evidence and delivered by McMaster’s leading experts in cannabis research, the program is an exceptional learning opportunity.”

Michael Amlung, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at Mcmaster, will be teaching the “Fundamentals of Cannabis Science” course.

As a faculty scientist, his research focuses on cannabis misuse.

Carter saw a perfect opportunity to partner with James MacKillop, director of the PBCAR and co-director of the DeGroote Centre for Medical Cannabis Research, in the creation of the program.

“The CCE is always looking for program ideas that are timely and relevant to adult, undergraduate and graduate students,” said Carter. “With the legalization of cannabis this past October and awareness of the exceptional research in cannabis happening here at McMaster University, the chance to partner with Dr. McKillop’s research team was a natural partnership.”

The CCE offers flexible workshops and courses for students to build upon past skills, obtain a professional designation or pursue new learning opportunities.

These include crisis and mental health training, data analytics and web design.

According to Carter, despite its smoking ban, McMaster should consider pursuing programs similar to science of cannabis in its future.

“More and more students are looking for programs in specific topics and skills areas. Programs that are shorter than a degree such as a three-course certificate and that are offered online are especially appealing,” he said.

Carter explains that online courses garner over 80 per cent of enrollment in the realm of continuing education.

“The accessibility and flexibility of online courses is something that today’s learners value a great deal,” said Carter.

McMaster is following closely behind the heels of the University of Ottawa and Ryerson University in the timely introduction of cannabis-focused education.

Ryerson University launched a cannabis course called “The Business of Cannabis” last year and the University of Ottawa was the first Canadian law school to offer cannabis law courses for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Class sizes for the “Fundamentals of Cannabis Science” are limited and the second course of the program has yet to be revealed.

Depending on its success, the science of cannabis program may add more courses and update content as cannabis news and research develops.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

Consent education seems to always be an afterthought at McMaster University. The word “consent” is consistently thrown into events, seemingly out of place, with no elaboration, discussion or focus.

During Welcome Week, the word was plastered on posters that appeared at all the major events and was projected in vibrant colours on the big screen prior to the concert.

The way consent education was treated during Welcome Week foreshadowed how the subject would be addressed during the rest of the year: just enough to get a hypothetical participation award in disrupting trends of sexual violence but too little to make a legitimate impact on campus rape culture.

This culture is something that does not go unnoticed by those who are most likely to be targets of sexual violence. A late night food run is never complete without words of caution and offers of someone to walk with. It’s unfortunately not uncommon to walk with your keys in between your fingers.

Once when I was walking home, after parting ways with my group of friends, a male acquaintance yelled back, “Be careful! Campus rape culture is still a thing”.

To him I say, believe me, I know. There is rarely a moment, at a party or anywhere on campus during non-peak hours where my friends or I don’t feel discomfort, or even fear.

Following the news of sexual violence within the McMaster Students Union Maroons, this tension is especially high. Prospective Maroons are hesitant to submit returning applications and attending events run by or affiliated with the MSU is often met with a little more resistance.

The MSU’s response to the allegations and overall toxic campus culture has been dismal.

In the beginning of March, posters commissioned by the Ontario government were hung up in several residence buildings. It reads “If you are watching it happen, you are letting it happen. Consent is everything”.

This was the first attempt I noticed to address the importance of consent in my residence. Although this message is true and important, it being the only form of consent education on residence is frankly pathetic.

McMaster is not treating consent education as a major priority. Any educational materials, workshops or sessions produced or run by the MSU or its services are only accessible to those who actively seek out those learning opportunities. Even campaigns run by the Student Health Education Centre, while important, have limited reach.

Despite their value, consent education needs to reach beyond those populations to those who need it the most.

The issue of consent cannot be addressed on small poster in the basement of a residence building. Misconceptions or being ignorant to consent needing to be mutual, voluntary, informed and continuous directly results in continued sexual violence on campus.

In order to shift toxic campus rape culture, there needs to be open lines of discussion about consent that are inherent to the structure of Welcome Week, life on residence and campus life in general. These discussions need to be backed by action; posters and platitudes are not enough.

The nonchalant backburner approach to consent education fails to create an inclusive and safe community for all students.

 

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Photos C/O Katie Benfey

Kyanite crystal allows the creation of new pathways and the opening of one’s mind to new positive possibilities. Lauren Campbell was wearing kyanite when the idea for a bright, quirky store with crystals, tarot cards and other magical items came to her. The name for the store, Witch’s Fix, also came to her in that moment.

At the time, Campbell was working a full-time job in Toronto and wasn’t entirely happy being a commuter and working a nine to five job. She couldn’t get the idea of Witch’s Fix out of her head, so she decided to quit her job and try to make her dream a reality.

On Feb. 26, 2018, Campbell opened an Etsy store and began to sell spell kits and mugs. Throughout the year, she attended craft markets and hosted candle rolling workshops. Exactly a year after her online store opened, her dream of a physical store came to life. The store is located in the historic Treble Hall, which Campbell had had her eye on for some time.

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“Before I even had the Witch's Fix, I'd drive by this space in Treble Hall and I would look at it and… say ‘if I ever have a store, I want to be there because it's so cute’… And one day I was on Kijiji… I saw this space [and] I was just like oh my God… that's my dream space… I'm going to do it,” Campbell said.

“I'm going to take the plunge, take a huge risk and do it because this was the space that I always wanted. It was going to be here or it was going to be nowhere,” she added.

The store is a realization of Campbell’s vision. The storefront is welcoming, with the glass walls serving as a window to an enchanted world. Inside, the shop is charming and cozy with Victorian elements and the feel of a library mixed with a traditional witch’s shop. A playlist of hot jazz, saxophone-containing music and songs from Campbell’s favourite magical movies adds to the ambience of the store and makes it feel as if it is in another place and time.

The store sells a variety of gifts and enchanting items, several of which the crafty shopkeeper makes herself. She makes Abracajava mugs and candles and puts together mystery bags, spell kits and crystal kits. As for the items that she doesn’t make herself, like the tarot cards and zines, she tries to source from independent makers, especially those who are female and female-identifying.

She wants the products to be mostly those that cannot be found in big box stores. While they may be a little more expensive than similar products in other places, her customers know that they are supporting creative entrepreneurs. In the future, Campbell also hopes to rent out the parlour at the back of her store to individuals who do readings to make this type of magic more accessible to the community.

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Honestly when people come in the store, I really just want them to feel inspired… [I]inspiration and creativity are such huge parts of magic for me. So I hope people come in and feel like they can be curious… ,” said Campbell.

“I want to awaken a childish enthusiasm in them that makes them remember when they were a little kid and anything seemed possible, [when] they just looked at everything with wide eyes and believed in magic,” she added.

Campbell has been drawn to magic and magical items since she was a kid. As she grew older, magic became more about having a connection to nature. Campbell understands that the store might not be for everyone, but she wants it to be approachable. Having experienced the benefit of everyday magic in her life, she wants to bring a little magic to everyone else’s life too.  

Campbell put the word witch in the title of her store to help change the perception of the word. She wants to do away with the idea of long fingernails and cackling laughs and replace it with the idea of magic as ownership of one’s human nature and connection to the world around us.

I mean there are so many days where it seems like there is no magic in the world and being able to spot it in the tiniest things… [it] makes my mental health better. It can be as simple as just birds on somebody's front lawn hopping and chirping, like that is magical to me… It's just really about finding things that make me smile and are really accessible,” Campbell said.

Once the dust settles a little more, Campbell will plan a grand opening celebration to mark the fruition of this vision. In the meantime, she looks forward to watching the store grow. With the warm responses that she has received thus far the online and Hamilton community, Witch’s Fix should continue to grow and become the store for all-things sorcery and magic downtown.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Drew Simpson

On June 26, the McMaster University board of governors, specifically the executive and governance committee, approved recommendation from the senate executive committee to establish the Centre for Networked Media and Performance.

According to the Oct. 18 board of governors meeting agenda, the vision for the CNMAP is “the production, exploration and analysis of new forms of expression, communication and collaboration enabled by networks and networking techs.”

As highlighted in the agenda, the approval for the centre comes as the rapid proliferation of technology continues to outstrip discussions about their human uses and impacts. At the heart of the technological revolution is the advent of “the network,” namely connections such as shared software, online communications and new electronic and data environments. 

“Humanities research has a special role to play in this context,” reads part of the agenda.

“Research and research-creation in the media and performing arts offer a setting in which new configurations of our networked landscape can be imagined, actualized, evaluated, and transformed in experimental ways.”

As of its launch this past summer, the CNMAP has been utilizing the networked imagination laboratory and the black box theatre in L.R. Wilson to organize workshops, conferences, interdisciplinary collaborations and other forms of artist-centric research.

According to the board of governors agenda, the centre has interest in hosting an interdisciplinary national sound conference at McMaster in 2019.

Some examples of the ‘nodes,’ or research spaces, that are said to comprise the centre include the cybernetic orchestra, pulse lab, networked imagination laboratory, software studies reading group and the sounds studies reading group.

The the CNMAP also connects these nodes through an online platform aimed at facilitating communication and collaboration.

Some anticipated CNMAP expenses include national and international conferences, server software costs for the online platform and the cost of graphic design and promotion, which can involve hiring undergraduate multimedia students.

Revenues allocated to these expenses include the seed funding of $40,000 by the humanities faculty vice president of research.

In its first semester, the CNMAP was involved with organizing and promoting a number of events, including four free live coding workshops and the “Imaginary Landscapes” exhibition, which occurred in Dec. 2018 and featured soundscape performances, a cybernetic orchestra concert and an informative artist-centric poster demonstration.

Students interested in receiving updates and getting involved with the CNMAP can contact David Ogborn, the centre’s director, at ogbornd@mcmaster.ca and/or follow the centre on Facebook and Twitter

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Andrew Mrozowski

Nestled away on the corner of King Street West and Paisley Avenue South lies a small storefront with kitchen accessories on display in the windows. Peering through, you are sure to see a cute boutique filled with cutlery, appliances and cookware. Only if you go into the store, will you find a functioning kitchen and breakfast bar tucked away in the back-right corner.

The Casual Gourmet has made its home in Westdale Village since 1997 but for the last three years, retail has only been part of the equation. Ever since co-owners Tannis Jarvis and Ilona Santa took over the business three years ago, they had a vision for the Casual Gourmet.

“We really wanted to have more than a retail store, we wanted a real interactive place with great experiences,” explained Jarvis.

[spacer height="20px"]Jarvis and Santa quickly saw the potential their Hamilton store had to offer and started to reach out to local chefs to host workshops. Since January 2017, over 84 different workshops have been held from ‘A Night in the Caribbean’ to ‘Knife Skills 101’. The Casual Gourmet will be hosting ‘Dinner with Jonny Blonde’ and ‘Winter Soups with the Burnt Tongue’ in the coming months.

“With Hamilton growing and having such a great food scene, we thought it would be great if we could bring in a lot of those Hamilton chefs to really offer those customers a neat experience. They all bring such a wealth of knowledge,” said Jarvis.

One of these chefs is award-winning pastry chef Maria Boyd of Cake & Loaf Bakery. Growing up in Germany, Boyd got her hands wet in the industry by working for a catering company. When she moved to Canada, she attended George Brown College for Baking and Pastry Arts and Management, completing a two-year certificate.

While making cakes, chocolates and running a flourishing business, Boyd realized one thing: she hated to work with chocolate. She didn’t know what her future held in store but was certain that chocolate wouldn’t be a part of it.

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Chef Boyd knew that the city of Toronto was too large for her to leave her mark. She turned her gaze towards a smaller city whose food culture was growing each day and where she could find a better sense of community.

Setting up shop just west of Hamilton’s downtown core, Boyd opened Cake & Loaf Bakery in 2011 and has quickly risen through the ranks as one of the city’s top bakeries. The following year, Chef Boyd started to ironically play around with chocolate and confections.

“I always try to get my hands dirty and learn something I’m not comfortable with. I always try to challenge myself,” said Boyd.

Honing her chocolate skills and developing a department for Cake & Loaf Bakery, Boyd pushed herself to become a well-rounded pastry chef but now found herself wanting to share her chocolate-making skills with others.

[spacer height="20px"]“I always wanted to do classes, but the bakery never had the space or time to hold them. [The Casual Gourmet] approached us to do evening classes which everyone always wants,” said Boyd.

Presenting her workshop, Chocolate Basics, Boyd taught attendees how to release their inner Willy Wonka by showing them how to temper chocolate, make ganache, truffles, caramel and provide ideas for some festive holiday treats to be shared with loved ones throughout the coming months.

“I want to inspire people to do something that they wouldn’t normally do, or for those who would, just to be able to give them some more things to think about,” said Boyd.

For Boyd, food is about challenging yourself to do something difficult. She went from hating chocolate to becoming a leading chocolatier within the city on the whim of wanting to push herself and accomplish more.

As everyone was gathered around the breakfast bar tucked away in the heart of Westdale village, watching Chef Boyd create a chocolate masterpiece, one could feel the sense of belonging and unity through the power of food. The Casual Gourmet will continue to bring the community together through a diverse range of workshops set for the new year.

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For many of us, technology is not simply a piece of our world but a thread that links the various aspects of our lives together. It makes up the fabric of our communication, education and entertainment. It’s no surprise that it has become a large part of art practice as well.

Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts is organizing Function Keys: A Conference on New Technology and Digital Culture which aims to celebrate both art and technology. In its fourth year, the four-day conference will take place from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11 at The Spice Factory.

The conference will consist of lectures, performances, demonstrations and workshops. Artists, academics and hackers from across Canada and the United States will be present to discuss and present emerging technological trends.

“[W]e're really interested in the acronym STEAM which is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics…[A]s opposed to splitting them off into individual categories, [it’s about] bringing them all together and understanding how they can inform each other,” explained Ariel Bader-Shamai, an organizer for the conference.

“[W]e’re in a really technocentric world right now and our culture is very technocentric, so I think it makes sense that it would also inform art practice… [T]hey inform each other… by necessity.”

The ways in which art and technology can inform each other can be seen in the events that are scheduled for the conference, from a workshop on location-aware storytelling to a lecture on interactive textiles and two electrifying performances.

On Nov. 9 Function Keys will be putting on a performance in partnership with Strangewaves. Hamilton artist Allie Brumas and Detroit musician Onyx Ashanti will be the highlight of the night. Ashanti is the focre behind a new way of making music called beatjazz. On the night of Nov. 10, electronic music producers Dark Rooms, Orphx and Cape Esan will be performing.

Friday night of #fk4 will be curated by the lovely folks at @strangewavesfes , featuring the creator of beatjazz Onyx Ashanti (Detroit, MI) and local musical wiz, Allie Blumas! Nov 9 at the Spice Factory - event is free but advanced registration required. pic.twitter.com/xtDDBopQMF

— Function Keys (@FunctionK) 5 October 2018


In addition to these bigger names, the conference is providing space for emerging artists and those who may not have an opportunity to show their work in traditional spaces. On Nov. 9, the Mad Science Fair will carve out space for makers, hobbyists and digital media artists to showcase their creative projects.

By providing this space, the conference aims to be more approachable and accessible. The conference is also aiming to reduce financial barriers through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Many of the events taking place will either be free or have a low cost associated with them.

I think that when things are free, that takes away a barrier…[M]aybe it's something you've never heard of before, never attempted before but maybe you're curious about it…you're not losing anything, all you're gaining is a fun experience or a new skill,” Bader-Shamai explained.

Introducing new technology to those who are unfamiliar with it is one of the goals for the conference. The conference will pair art and technology in ways that some may not have seen before and equip attendees with new skills that they can incorporate into their creative pursuits.

However, the event can appeal to anyone interested in learning more about technology. The conference provides a rare and accessible way for anyone to gain knowledge about new and exciting happenings within the technological and art worlds.

 

Creating Responsive Cloth: An Introduction to Electronics for Dynamic Textile Objects and Wearables with Barbara Layne and Ryth Kesselring

Part 1: Nov. 10 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Part 2: Nov. 11 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Barbara Layne is the director of Studio subTela, one of the labs of the Textiles and Materiality Research Cluster at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. She works with graduate students from Concordia University as well as international collaborators. Ryth Kesselring is also part of studio subTela, where she works as a research assistant on electronics and embroideries for smart textiles.Their two-day hands-on workshop will have participants design and create a small project that incorporates LEDs. The workshop will give an introduction to basic electronics, simple circuits, light-emitting fabrics, Arduino microcontrollers and more. The workshop will also address associated technical, aesthetic, artistic and design issues. No sewing or electronics knowledge is required. There is a $10 materials fee to cover the cost of the electronic components.

The Ecology of Mud, with Nicole Clouston

Nov. 10, 11–2 p.m.

Nicole Clouston is a practice-researcher currently completing her PhD in Visual Art at York University. She is also an artist in residence at the Coalesce Bio Art Lab at the University at Buffalo. Through her practice, she explores what happens when we acknowledge, through an embodied experience, our connection to a world teeming with life both around and inside us.

Her free hands-on workshop will have participants create sculptures using mud that they can take home. Participants will pick from fifteen mud samples collected around Lake Ontario, including samples from Hamilton. The mud will be placed in clear tubes with nutrients to support microbial growth and, with exposure to light and some time, participants will be able to watch the microbial life grow and form vibrant marbling across the surface.

Introduction to Location-Aware Storytelling with Tony Vieira

Nov. 10, 12-2 p.m.

Tony Vieira is a musician, composer and media artist. He has composed original music scores for television, film and interactive media and has created augmented reality and alternate reality projects that have been exhibited internationally. A senior researcher at the York University Augmented Reality Lab and Music Program tutorial instructor, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Ethnomusicology and Digital Studies.

His free workshop will have participants explore approaches and concepts related to hybrid media article, such as virtual embodiment, public private space, place-making, locative listening and more. Participants will be able to create a short audio piece that will be geo-located to a location of their choice.

Moog WerkStatt Workshop with Todd Murray

Nov. 11 2018, 9-4 p.m.

Todd Murray also goes by the name SixbySeven. He is a Hamilton resident who has been involved with art and photography for over 30 years. He is a founding member of the Studio 12 Artistic Photographers Collective. His earliest ventures into music synthesizers were in 1978, building his own analog synthesizer.

His workshop is open to anyone with an interest in creating music using a synthesizer. The morning session has a cost of $10 and includes demonstrations of different synthesizers, the synth voice, extended effects, and connectivity. An optional afternoon session allows participants to assemble their own Moog Werkstatt desktop synthesizer to take home. The cost is $350 for the afternoon session but alternative options may be available for those who cannot afford the full price.

For more information on the events, workshops and registration information visit functionkeys.ca

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