Monday, December 22, 2008


I had a nice day at the Gallery today: I chopped up a piece of old paper.  

Then I boiled the bits of old paper for about 4 hours, strained the paper out, and then boiled down the stuff until I had about 2 mL of concentrated paper extract collected in it.  Look at that boiling!  

I'm going to use it to tone something the appropriate color.  This still needs to loose about 8 mL of water, but you can see the color!

And Hye-Sung surprised me with little fruit tarts and gigantic candles!  We decided not to light them, as it would have been a little awkward if we'd set off an alarm or something.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shouldn't You Be Offering Me a Jelly Doughnut?

Today, I met a very rude Canadian.  I was shocked!

One of the unwritten but universally understood rules of walking in a city is that the slower people will be passed by the faster people.  Walking today, cutting through the big Rideau shopping center, like I've been doing since the manifestation began (still manifesting, FYI) I was behind a slow-moving woman, late fifty-ish, in a long puffy olive-drab coat and a green scarf.  I walked past her, thinking of what I wanted to accomplish during the day, 'maybe take that print out of the press, put together one of those daguerreotypes, we're going for Indian for lunch today...'

Woman: Excuse me.

Me: Yes?  (thinking that maybe I've dropped something... why else do strangers talk to you as you are walking past them?)

Woman: You just cut in front of me.  Do you think that is appropriate?  You stopped me right in my tracks.

Me: And you think that this is an appropriate comment to say to a complete stranger?

Apparently she did not pick up on how appalled I was by how utterly rude she was being.  Did she not know the rules of the urban jungle?

She keeps talking.  And the whole time this is happening we are still walking.  I, being the faster, have moved fairly far from her, but she's still talking, calling me rude!  The temper is starting to rise: I have the incredible urge to turn around and say, "Your mother taught you that this was polite?  Grow up.  Next time I pass you I won't just 'stop you in your tracks', I'll be sure to trip you.  And then kick you while you're down.  You don't even know what you're dealing with, bitch."

However, since I am being the change, I decided to go for the immature and "I'm ending this route".

Me: (rolling the eyes and saying in a clearly insincere tone of voice) I'm sooo sorry.

Then she thanked me.  She thanked me for an amazingly and utterly facetious apology!  I just kept walking.  I also didn't look at her when we stood at the same street corner a few seconds later waiting for the light to change. 

And the rest of the walk to the Gallery, once I regained control of my temper, all I could think was, "Crazy Canadian.  I thought these people were supposed to be nice?  Where's my jelly doughnut?"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coming to a Toronto Near You! In February 2009!

Some time ago, Hye-Sung and I spent part of an afternoon with Supervisor John looking at and discussing a group of objects at the NGC solely to be examined before moving on to the next venue of the touring exhibition.  It was really fun.

The inside of a light box backed photograph transparency.  The excitement with this particular piece is that is uses LEDs instead of fluorescent tubes.  Fluorescent light does everything bad and nothing good for art, and the tube need to be taken out and shipped separately when ever traveling an artwork that uses them.  Pain in the butt.

Supervisor John.  He's doing condition reports on each object.  Considering that these photographs are all brand-new, he didn't see much damage.  On that double-layered cart is a big binder with the condition documentation on each object with a page for each venue and areas for specific people to sign off on things.  It's like the file a doctor will pull when you go for a check up.  Except for an artwork.  Clearly.

And no, those are not large chunks of petrified wood.  They are photographs adhered to large chunks of aluminum, the edges cut to mimic slabs of marble.  They are really heavy.  It's like three or four inch thick aluminum, and large portions are even hollowed out to make them lighter.

This work was recently purchased by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), an associate museum of the NGC.  Also photographs, not mirrors.  Often, for large works, installation pieces, and similar, the acquisitions committee will have the piece installed someplace, frequently in the regular galleries.  This was installed in a temporarily closed gallery (regular rotation).  It was really great.

Hye-Sung demonstrates the hanging mechanism.  Magnets!  By the same artist whose steel sheeting I helped yank of a photograph in October.  A more advanced permutation, however, as the metal is attached to the wall and the photograph backed with the same sort of flexible vinyl magnet used to make refrigerator magnets.

What may be in a 'temporarily closed for artwork rotation' gallery.  These crates are from the objects loaned to the NGC for the current, large and awesome exhibition on the sculpture of Bernini.

Hye-Sung is magnetic too.  It really sucks when your skeleton has adamantium plating.  She really has a tricky time of it whenever Magneto drops by for consultations.

Hiding from my responsibilities.  Like figuring out how I'll get health insurance post-22 December.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flashback: Dinos and Poutine

So the other day Hye-Sung and I finally got around to exchanging a bunch of photos we had of each other.  These are some gems from the day we were first introduced to poutine.

It's like you're sitting across from me, in a shiny shiny diner, marveling at your own massive plate of artery-clogging heartattack.

We agree that the poutine is both terrifying and hypnotizing, but nether of us have started eating any of it yet.  Eek!

Anthropological field work: documenting the foodstuffs of the local people.

And the second half of the dino-diptych: the other panel is Hye-Sung kissing the triceratops on the horn.  Like a paleopostmodern altarpiece.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Which Hye-Sung Chases a Table

A little medley of our recent activities at the Gallery:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Manifestation! Workers of the World: Manifest!

The bus drivers of the Ottawa City Transportation conglomerate, or as they like to call themselves OCTranspo, have been having a manifestation since Wednesday.

Hye-Sung told me that it was a planned manifestation - she saw it on the news.  What she really meant was that the bus drivers were going on strike.  Manifestation is one of the French terms for going on strike.

The bus drivers have been manifesting since Wednesday.  The day the entire city was blanketed in snow.  Traffic is awful: snow piles are everywhere: loads of people just bite the bullet and walk to work.  Half the staff at the museum has either come in late or left early in a futile attempt to avoid the madness on the roads.  Supervisor John gave Hye-Sung and I a serious little talk about making sure that we were very careful walking to and from the museum, which was really nice of him.

The definition of the English manifestation (courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary, which my computer miraculously contains and updates as needed) is as follows: an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, esp. theory or an abstract idea.

I believe the abstract idea that OCTranspo is manifesting is that they feel it is okay for people like me to slog forty minutes through twelve inches of squeeky snow in freezing temperatures to and from work.

Why are they striking any way?  What benefits can they gain?  I mean, really.  This is Canada, which is fairly socialist in several aspects.  Not really face-punching material, but definitely a trial and/or tribulation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow, Many Centimeters of Snow

It has been snowing for nearly 24 hours now, non-stop.  And it's supposed to keep falling until tomorrow.  The entire Ottawa River is covered in snow, as yesterday it had a sheet of ice across the surface.  This is this morning's view from the lab.  No - the wind isn't blowing existing snow around.  That's new snow falling.

Our lovely skylights!  Not so skylight-like anymore, but if you look closely, a good lesson on how glaciers can form.  Taken this morning around 9:30.

After lunch time Hye-Sung and I decided to track the snow build-up progress.  Hye-Sung checked with her larger ruler, and we were up to 20 centimeters before that chunk of snow fell off the sill.

After work, clinging to the giant spider.  And just so you know, my legs aren't really that stubby, I'm just standing in like twelve inches of snow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lost Dog

This caught my eye one day, leaving the museum for brief lunchtime hunting and gathering.

My first thought was, "Oh, I've seen that dog.  Wait...  No, that dog only has two heads, not three, so I haven't seen it."  

Sitting on the radiator to keep warm: the windows are double panes of glass so it's not too cold.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Toujours Frais: Timmy Ho-Hos

Yesterday Hye-Sung and I went to Kingston to visit the Art Conservation Program at Queen's University.  (Fun fact: Anne of Green Gables attended Queen's).  After our visit, on the way back to Ottawa, we stopped at a Canadian landmark.

Tim Hortons!

Ainsley (conservator at NGC) once referred to Tim Horton's as 'Timmy Ho-Hos," which is just fantastic.  The real Tim Horton was apparently a really good hockey player who opened a side business selling doughnuts and coffee.  And the Canadians really love their doughnuts, so Tim Horton's business quickly became a chain and took over the entire nation.

Hye-Sung and I were standing in line along with a bunch of flannel-shirt and work-boot wearing Canadians.  Out-loud I said, "I hope they have doughnut holes."

The Canadian in front of me turned around and said, "Timbits."

I said, "Excuse me?"

"You mean Timbits."

So, at Tim Horton's, doughnut holes are called Timbits.  Just so you know.  And you can purchase them in units of ten: observe below.  I keep screwing the name up, calling them TimmyBites

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Press Awesome

I stumbled upon a conservation supplier selling massive and expensive cast iron Victorian copy/book presses.  Who wouldn't want such an attractive and useful addition to their studio?  Provided that the table can handle the weight.

The text at the bottom reads, "This lovely selection of antique copy presses have been recently imported from England by Talas.  Commonly used in bookbinding studios for pressing books, these presses make an attractive and useful addition to any studio.  They also make great gifts!"

"These presses are heavy, please inquire for shipping rates."