Author: beatvc

Final Project: Aéroportraits

Aéroportraits, as seen on http://aeroportraits.tumblr.com The project Aéroportraits (translated as “Airportraits” in English) aims to explore Montreal-Trudeau Airport through its various components, such as its design and its people. Indeed, airports are not simply a dot on a geographical map; they are also well thought constructions that come alive thanks to humans. In order to justify the valuable humans’ presence in that space, I decided to lead a discussion with strangers and collect a myriad of airport stories. The conversations were triggered by asking them to tell me about a moment they either experienced or witnessed at the airport and that they would never forget. Thanks to the photographic technique of double exposure, I completed the stories by combining portraits of interviewees with the various surrounding décors. The idea was to create confusion between body and space, two fundamental terms of the course. Moreover, some contradictions seem necessary to airports’ performance. As architect and engineer Daniel Estevez writes, “The airport is often shown as a milieu in tension. […] It is closed but opened, public but private, delimited but proliferating, in operation but under construction, coercive but fun” (23); such contradictions thus constituted the basis to my project. The hoped-for and final objectives were to perceive airports with a more human perspective, or more specifically, as thirdspaces, and to expose how dualism is intrinsic to that space, by, in the meantime, exploring notions of surveillance.

Aéroportraits 7 - Surprise pour le cousin

A project by Béatrice Viens Côté

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Source: Estevez, Daniel. Aéroports, représentations et expérimentations en architecture. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012. Print.

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Gender equality in music, still struggling

Last week, Canadian singer-songwriter Kandle put up a post on Facebook showing the lack of female acts in some major music festivals in the US and the UK. That was demonstrated by removing male acts from three festival posters, respectively Coachella (US), Reading/Leeds (UK) and Download (UK). For anyone familiar with Coachella’s poster, for instance, that action left us to a very starry sky.

Kandle - gender equality - music festivals

A question that shall be asked now is, what are the boundaries surrounding music festivals that limit women’s participation? As in, how are these spaces more opened/accessible to male acts?

I believe this question exceeds the idea of music festivals – it seems to be an even more profound issue: the answer basically lies in the way the music industry functions. It would not be fair to believe some female acts were refused participation to these festivals; but it could be in terms of their access to the music industry in general. Now, if it is hard to know how many bands/music acts there are in the world, it is as hard to know what is the male-female proportion in the music industry.

Based solely, and I really mean solely, on what I know and what I’ve experienced, there seem to be a higher proportion of male musicians, therefore the odds for their presence in festivals are, accordingly, much higher.

That seems undeniable, yet, how did it end up like this? Why can’t we see/hear more women?

Does this have to do with the particular music genre these festivals promote? Would that mean the indie and metal music scene don’t like women as much as they like men?

Of course other factors shall come into consideration. Maybe there has been some scheduling conflicts for some female acts; or, more realistically, no more additional spots were made available to women acts, simply because these acts don’t exist!

If one of these festivals had to be a pop one, then it would have been a whole different story. Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift… they would all have been there. Difference is, these women have got a gigantic industry running after them. Is becoming a pop star the only way to success for female artists? And what is it that restrains them from trying and showing their talent? Does this have to do with beauty standards? Does one woman need to be confortable with her body first in order to perform in such a space? Where should they find their confidence?

I don’t necessarily intend to answer all these questions, but rather to stir up a discussion. The struggle is real and is surely great food for thought.

Jazzberry Blue & Maps

Buzzfeed is sometimes full of resources. This time: graphic maps that give a new perspective to cities – will you be able to recognize the cities they depict?

MTL - Jazzberry Blue

Take the Buzzfeed quiz: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annamendoza/city-maps-wtf?bffb&utm_term=4ldqphp#.ipQMj7vy8

And look at other Jazzberry Blue artwork: http://www.jazzberryblue.com

Blog Post 2 – Re-Orientation – Airports

The space I had chosen for my first blog post was airports. I mentioned they were my favourite because of the amount of stories they witness and emotions they hold. I saw it as a rather positive space, where people experience the pleasure of returning home, or leaving for the unknown.

My explanation had however totally made abstraction of more negative elements. Indeed, I did not pay attention to the prominence of control, surveillance and power existing within that space.

For instance, one thing I notice when I think a second time are the constant directions put in place to guide us through the space. Departures, arrivals, international, domestic, check-in, customs, baggage claim, numbers, arrows – these, all together, control the ways in which we circulate. There is not much freedom as such in an airport. These places are strongly organized, to help the travelers of course, but also to exert a better control on the populations. There are very specific strategies put in place in order to maintain order and regulate movement, and developing tactics to avoid them involves a high risk of reprimand, potentially legally affecting. Plus, trying to avoid control could lead into greater control upon us. Thus, it is rather difficult to become a flâneur and visit the different areas freely, unless we get a particular permission and do so with a security guard.

(Photo courtesy of CNN)

(Photo courtesy of CNN)

Moreover, divisions within the airport are only accessible to those who are in the right. You cannot get to the boarding zone until you have checked in and passed the security gate. This certainly needs to be understood in a post 9/11 context, which caused a massive increase in security. In my personal experience, I can hardly compare post to pre 9/11. The first time I flew was in 2002, and it was a domestic flight. For me, security has always been part of the airport process, and it is difficult to imagine it without. Yet, one could assume that regulations in airports during the 1960s, for example, were less severe than those of the 1980s, which were less severe than those of 2002. Additionally, improvements in technology have an important role to play, as they allow a better surveillance (cameras, ePassports, tracking…) If it can protect us from potential threat, don’t we often, ironically, feel threatened by it? As if everyone was first seen as bad, and then confirmed as good or not. Where has trust gone? Trust, like one of those initial good “airport feelings” I was talking about – humans who don’t necessarily know each other, but who share similar emotions during the same period of time, over time, as it never stops. If we’re actually so similar, why couldn’t we trust each other? I could enter into the question of “racial profiling”, but that is surely and unfortunately a too big subject for the length of this post.

(Photo courtesy of Time Magazine)

(Photo courtesy of Time Magazine)

To keep going with the question of accessibility, the airport itself can also be “hardly” accessible. Often located in the countryside, airports are mostly reached by car or bus, sometimes train and metro. Thus, airports are not strong by-foot destinations. Was this decision taken as to, inter alia, prevent the homeless from occupying the space? Airports seem like obvious shelters for the homeless: they could sit at the entrance and get some warmth. Yet, I don’t remember seeing one in such location. Was this even thought of? What would happen if an itinerant squatted the airport space? Would he/she be kicked out? Yet, as comparison, their presence is mostly allowed in places such as metro stations – which are just another mode of transportation. [Note aside, why putting so much surveillance in airports, but not in the metro and buses? Terrorist attacks were counted in these as well…]

Airport-Security-1

In a similar manner, airports seem to favor a certain social class. Taken to a further level, we find the economic and business classes within the waiting lines and airplanes, thus reinforcing social disparities, showing off a “I can afford this, but you can’t afford that” mentality. The capitalistic ideology within airports is reinforced as stores invade the space, as if shopping was the only pastime available. Of course many people still read, listen to music, play games, or sleep, but (window) shopping prevails – we are easily tempted. Sometimes I wonder: why don’t we use these (previously) vacant spaces for something else? Instead of promoting the spending of money with stores that sell (for most part) futile things, we could support culture: art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, plays, etc. It could also be spaces organized for the practice of various sports, thus allowing people to stretch and move before sitting for long hours, this encouraging a healthy lifestyle. I acknowledge that even these often have a capitalist ending (for example, would musicians playing also sell records and make profit out of it?); it is not to say that the capitalist wheel would stop spinning, but at least it would not be intensively encouraged. I also believe such ideas would help creating a sense of community, which would in turn build a stronger sense of generosity and trust, which could only be beneficial to our society.

Thanks for Celebrating Me: A Mis-Guide

Do you remember me?

Do you recall my body; these little details that unconsciously fill your mind?

You might say hello every once in a while,

Or simply come in without paying any attention.

What if I tell you that this space you’re walking in is actually my body?

Do you know how much it hurts to be ignored?

Those who created me however were very brilliant and imaginative.

They made me beautiful. I’m big. I’m tall. I’m shining.

At dawn, the sunrays bounce on my surfaces.

At dusk, lights emphasize my greatest assets.

How come you are not thankful for that?

Hopefully, with what follows, you’ll be.

library building Hall building jmsb building

EV building

By Joelle Cytrynbaum & Béatrice Viens Côté

Blog Post 1: About Me

Hi everyone! My name is Béatrice Viens Côté and I am currently in my third year of Communication Studies. I just come back from a student exchange in Melbourne, Australia. It was a fantastic experience and I recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to go abroad grab it right away, without hesitating. Now’s the time, my friends! You’ll thank me later 😉 .

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Most of my time is spent hanging out with friends and family, listening to and playing music, taking photographs, writing, enjoying the outdoors, watching movies, planning (or more like dreaming of) future trips and, of course, studying.

My goal for this class is to get a better understanding of the space we live in and how bodies interact with it. It is also learning about the space that is virtual, unseen by the human eye, untouched, imagined. It is learning about an environment that is constantly changing – that is adapting to life through the centuries; that is used or modified to fill certain needs.

I had a hard time pinpointing which space was my favourite. I am the kind of person who dislikes sticking at the same spot for a long time – life has so much to offer, I’d rather discover all of it! Therefore, because movement is a necessity for me, I sense airports fit me well. Airports have a myriad of stories to tell. Whether it is leaving for somewhere new, waiting for those you love, or going back home, a story does not wait after another – they happen simultaneously. Airports are filled with a mixture of emotions – I feel like you could not get such a high concentration of all human emotions anywhere else, and just that scene is moving to me. Airports are happiness and sadness. They are frustration and sources of stress. They are generosity and mutual aid. They are freedom and open-mindedness. They are located in a specific area, yes, but in that matter, they feel international; borders don’t really exist. To a certain extent, I would also add airplanes as my favourite space. Even though they make most of us feel confined and nervous – I mean, were humans really meant to fly – they are, in most of cases, objects of excitement, discovery of the unknown. They are encounters with the stranger – what you believe is a stranger, but in the end, you call him a neighbour – and perspectives of the world that were unrevealed up to the moment you reach a few feet in the sky. It is this bird’s-eye view you could never truly understand otherwise.

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5 things faculty does that make learning harder:

– Lack of dynamism

– Lack of open-mindedness to the different points of view

– Handing out very long and complicated readings

– Lack of communication between professors and students

– Lack of equality for all students

5 things faculty does that make learning easier:

– Being passionate about, or at least very comfortable with the subject.

– Being approachable and reachable in order to engage in one-on-one discussions with students

– Giving clear guidelines concerning the various assignments

– Making efficient use of class time

– Providing personalised feedback on the assignments.