Universe in a Box

Hypothetical question: what happens when there’s so much air pollution all the time that you can’t even see the sky at night? You attempt to recreate it and bring it to you.

Standing under an open night sky is like standing in an imax theater; you feel surrounded and you get a sense of limitless space. That’s the feeling I get when I’m standing under the night sky at my house, and it’s what I was trying to recapture with my Universe in a Box. The small size of the box makes the viewing experience an intimate one, and once inside the 24 mirrors bounce reflections and light around the viewer. The spaces in between the mirrors create an interesting juxtaposition of space by creating breaks on the panels themselves, as well as in the reflections. They’re multiplied in the mirrors around them which create even more dimensional space depending on where you’re sitting in the box.

The reflections of the light bulbs are also multiplied to make it seem like there are more then there actually are. They’re meant to replicate stars, but constellations weren’t the direct focus of the piece. They’re like stand in, domesticated stars.

You can do anything in this box: sit quietly, study, read and think about if there will ever be a need for a Universe in a Box because you can’t see the real one anymore.


Hi guys! I was chatting with my uncle, who works in forestry out in Alberta, the other night about bears and bear attacks and so on and he sent me this video of a bear just passing by someone’s house that was captured via the guys home security camera.

One of the biggest issues regarding people vs wild life my uncle said he was seeing right now in Alberta was related to urban development and people wanting to put up golf courses or subdivisions right in the middle of places like the grizzly maze from the film we watched last class. These are places that bears had used for travelling and hunting long before people got there and yet, like the guy in the video (pardon his choice of language) it’s perceived as the animal’s fault. He also said that they are experiencing a rise in cougar vs man attacks…

Waltzing Outdoor Schoolers


The word “waltz” is originally derived from the German word “waltzen” which means to roll, turn or glide and has been traced back to a dance that began in the suburbs of Vienna, and in the alpine region of Austria, following the simplest of yodeling melodies. The official waltz has a rather scandalous history, despite the beautiful image that most people have in their head when they hear the word “waltz”; prior to the 18th-19th century, people hated the waltz. Dance teachers felt that it threatened their lessons since the waltz had more basic steps that were easy to learn while the other court approved dances (such as the minuet) required an essential amount of practice to develop the complex figures, steps and posture. The church didn’t approve of it because they found it vulgar and sinful because rather than basically staying an arms length apart, dancers were now in a close hold, facing each other and being all up in one another’s business. High society commentators were also on the list of people who didn’t appreciate this dance, stating in an editorial following a ball hosted by a Prince;

“We remarked with pain that the indecent, foreign dance called the waltz was introduced at the English court on Friday last…this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses but now that it’s attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against his daughters to so fatal a contagion.” 

There were crowds that were quick to pick up the waltz, the bourgeoisie being one of them. They picked it up immediately after the french revolution, since they had nearly 700 dance halls at their disposal, and people were starting to hear about it in North America, where it was reported to have been performed for the first time in Boston in 1834 (it was still received quite negatively though as the indecorous dance).

The waltz’s popularity is perhaps mostly owed to the composers Franz Lanner and Johann Strauss, who were the biggest composers during the 19th century. They, particularly Strauss, composed some of the most well-known waltzing music, still used today, and set the standard for the Viennese Waltz (which is faster than the typical slow waltz). By the 1900s the waltz had become accepted by members of high society and thus we have the glittering image of what the waltz is.


Waltzes tend to have romantic names, usually having something to do with nature; “Voices of Spring”, “Waltz of the Flowers”, “Tales from the Vienna Woods” and so on. They’re done in 3/4 time, with a strong accent on the first beat and has a basic pattern on “step-step-close,” or the box step. It’s done in a ballroom hold where the girl’s-part partner places her hand on the guy’s-part partner’s right shoulder, while the guy’s-part partner places their hand underneath the girl’s left shoulder. The ballroom hold helps with posture by keeping your back straighter and shoulders down, and by keeping/pressing your shoulders down your chest comes out and you get that slight arc that you see the girl partners do. Smiling is also important, Always smile 😀

a lovely ballroom hold


When first learning the waltz it helps to count it out, out loud. In the waltz there’s also a rise and fall action taking place due to bending and straightening your knees. You go down in your knees on the first step, and rise for the following two. Look at everyone box-stepping and waltzing away!




Candles were used by some dance teachers in the early stages of the waltz’s high society based life in order to measure the smoothness of the student’s dance. It’s supposed to be so elegant and  smooth that the flame will not be extinguished in the hands of the dancer.


They do waltzes in skating as well, 7 in total. The steps are obviously different then the ones you do when you’re standing but some of them share the same name, and the strict attention to posture is very present as well. One of the is the Viennese Waltz. I think it would be pretty hard to keep a candle lit during this.


Fish and Game Club

Members of my family have been part of this club for a long time, and despite having the word game in the title, the Fish and Game club isn’t centered around hunting, at least not so much anymore. They do fish throughout the summer though. They’re very community based; the meetings I went to were very focused on having discussions about the lake the club is on, and getting people’s opinions on matters brought up by the president. After one of the meetings, we went for a walk and they showed me “blocks” that my grandfather had built in order to help preserve the shoreline.




The area the club house is built on was once a gravel pit, so when harsh rains would come their way the water would run down the hill and basically ruin the shoreline. And then there’s the waves from the lake itself and it was just a mess. These blocks help keep the shoreline from receding by allowing the water to drain through them and keep the dirt and gravel intact. Very cool. We also went out and walked to an island that is usually not accessible due to the lake itself. As we went across, they talked about how interesting it was to see what was on the bottom of the lake, like the stones and the neat little clusters and formations they formed over time, and how the different levels of the lake’s bottom were now visible.




It was mucky…very mucky…but very worth it. There were even stumps from trees that were once rooted in the lake who knows how many years ago.

Continue reading “Fish and Game Club”

Exciting Times Outside

So today was our first reading as a class outside, and it started off with a bang because our amazing jumpsuits of awesome nature-ness arrived today!! Nathan also presented a very useful survival tip; how to shoot in the sun.

IMG_00001500 IMG_00001501


Our little reading spot was pretty fantastic. It was very nice and relaxing in the gardens as we discussed some pretty heavy questions surrounding the roles of art and artist when it comes to issues surrounding the planet’s well-being. Is it the artist’s job to bring the problems regarding climate change to light and be the hero? Maybe it is? As we discussed, art has a way of narrowing down the meaning of “climate change” in pretty creative ways.  And we stretched…who doesn’t like a good stretch?

IMG_00001506  IMG_00001508


Annette Messager

Annette Message is an accomplished artist from France with a practice that spans over the course of nearly four decades, whose main interest lies in ‘outsider’ art (amateur/children’s art). Her work includes the mediums of photography, sculpture, drawing, installation and even needlework. She chooses to use modest materials in her pieces, such as clothing, bandages, stuffed toys and so on, to create forms and shapes that suggest the complexity of human life and the shadowy ‘other’ in us all.

Her piece “Les Depouilles (Skins)” in 1997 showcased a series of children’s clothing and toys that she had taken apart, removed the stuffing and pinned up on the gallery wall. When commenting about the work Messager explained that she wanted to explore the similarities between what she saw as the final result on the wall and the shapes found in a Rorschach print.

messager_11 140723-MCA_Annette_Messager-0650