This post from  All My Own Work! ~ A history of pavement art!  demonstrates how visual arts have been exploring other venues for expression for much longer than many people realize, though anyone who has seen Disney’s  Mary Poppins, knows chalk paintings are magical worlds until the rain comes.

One of the basic principles of Mass Media, is that as a dominant form of Mass Media loses its place in the media hierarchy, it will adapt or innovate to offer something unique. In the world of colour printing, photography and emerging cinema, visual arts had to offer something new in the way of content/style or presentation, such as  production in public spaces.

Originally posted on All My Own Work!:

Chalking for Charity

Today, charity chalk pavement art events are very popular, especially in the United States; chalk sidewalk festivals are raising money for a myriad of good causes, from providing aid to Vietnam veterans to supporting religious institutions. But as the old saying goes “there is nothing new under the sun” as this feature from the Daily Express, 1922, perfectly illustrates.

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

“Sketching on paving stones is much more difficult than working on canvas.”

That was the verdict of two pretty girl art students, who staked a “claim” at Hyde Park Corner early yesterday morning, and became pavement artists for the day, for the benefit of St. George’s Dispensary (children’s hospital), Pocock Street, Blackfriars

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

Girl pavement artists: Hyde Park Corner, London 1922

“We find this work extremely difficult and tiring,” said one of them. “We practised for a while in the…

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Poppy Shadow Heart – Film Noir

Poppy Shadow Heart


Poppy in Black

To go along with my B&W poppy compositions, I decided to include the   official video of Caro Emerald’s song, “I Belong to You”.  The video’s style and the song exhibits the mix of 1940s cinema’s lush romanticism with the subtle suggestion of the film noir’s figure of the femme fatale.

The Shocking Miss Emerald 2

The opening ( establishing shot) is a wide-angle long shot in B&W of the mansion, with the only signs of activity a flock of bird rising up into the air, as if startled by a menace. The camera slowly, in time to the music, moves in before sharply cutting to an interior shot of a darkened staircase camera low angle moving upward towards the lighted landing above.

I Belong to You - establishing shot

Another sharp cut takes us into a upper room, the camera at eye level and approaching the windows. All the camera motion follows the pace of music and the the sharp cuts  matching the tango beat. The setting and cinematography tropes allude to such classic films as Murder My Sweet (1944) , Double Indemnity (1944) , and The Big Sleep (1939).


In Caro’s video, the young man with “the retro-contemporary-needs-a-shave” should look a bit more worn and world weary – instead of a youthful hipster trying to look worldly and mysterious. Considering the target audience, it still works, if not perfectly.

The Shocking Miss Emerald 3

Caro’s own role plays out some of the ambiguity of the femme fatale character. In classic style she starts as an isolated woman in an otherwise empty mansion awaiting the arrival of the man. The use of cuts of Caro preparing for the role in muted colours plays on the femme fatale as woman playing out a role and set of social expectations; expectations and a role the femme fatale attempts to use to her advantage, so it is no longer a trap controlled by a society of dominant men. 

The Shocking Miss Emerald 4t

  The scene of the couple sitting  having some tea (?) with  fancy cups suggests the beginning of the relationship – the young man appears shy/distant/uncertain, while Caro almost appears almost demure, but the accompanying lyrics seem to propel relationship much further in time & intensity.

We overlooked
as ocean deep
But now this river that we’re swimming through
is promises we keep ,,,,,,,,

 From here the video transitions with cuts to colour and back to B&W.  This parallels a transition to a change in setting, a musical performance at a concert/club. We see the young man now alone watching the departing Caro. It shifts to the club setting on stage as Caro comes out and continues singing. The young man is now in the audience; introducing the cinema trope of the nightclub singer ( creative feminine-spirit trapped in a male controlled reality ).

I Belong to You

This  movement of both characters to the new setting generates an interesting meta-textual element. The young man now represents the audience. The relationship in the song & the video now becomes a metaphor for the singer’s relationship to her audience. Whether intentional or not, it re-enforces the nightclub singer persona that was part of 40s cinema’s constructed reality.


The afterglow that’s down below
Is when I see your smile
And in your eyes, true love assigns
Forever is a word that cries

That I belong to you
That endless nights of far away
Are gone, and you
Could never love another
And I love you too
I see up above

And now I feel the truth -
I belong to you.

Note the degree to which there was an attempt to extend this tone to the CD packaging. The purchaser has entered a world by acquiring a physical  artifact. This is more than a digital download or a virtual experience. It is a world of physical substance that is part of a  very sophisticated and elaborate constructed reality that will appeal to an audience that wants more than just the music.

I Belong to You 2



The CD case together with the accompanying book re-creates a personal diary & photo album of a young woman from the late 1930s-early 40s.

I Belong to You 3 TpBrdCaro Emerald plays out the role visually through photographs and short entries linking the songs to events in this fictional world, thereby extending the immersive experience of listening to the vocals performances. To complete the effect the CD is designed to resemble a record from the time period.

The Shocking Miss EmeraldIn closing, may I just say, Miss. Caro Emerald, if you see this, hope you enjoy the poppies and thanks to my wife, the copy of your CD is mine. 


Note : The official video for Caro Emerald’s song “That Man” uses the tropes 1960s cinema opening animated title sequences.  For a short analysis see – Implied Spaces: Running Between the Line


For more of my poppy images see – After the Petals – Antique Impressions





Extra ! Extra ! The Golden Age of Journalism

The Golden age of Journalism ? Or……….. The Twilight Age of Journalism ?

On the Sunday Edition (CBC) for June 22 2014, Michael Enright interviewed James Compton . Compton teaches Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario, and is the co-author, with Paul Benedetti , of a recent article called The Golden Age of Journalism? You’ve Got To Be Kidding.

The core ideas that are explored in the article and interview are related to both the basic Mass Media Principles of Target Audience and Business Interest. The essential observation that Compton and Benedetti are making is that, in the current age of Digital Media, professional journalism is being required to set criteria based on the business needs of the publisher, rather than the higher goals of journalism. The criteria that is used is based on the model of Digital Media. The journalist must produce articles (content) that attracts hits and moves the viewer to other related information (content).


Articles & information are not necessarily news – nor do they have to be in-depth analysis of events and current social/political conditions. Brevity and clicks out weigh careful lengthy analytical reporting. In such an environment, emotional connections and human needs govern the newsworthiness & appeal of a topic or an event. As in advertising, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs govern the shape and delivery of the message (content).

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Of even greater concern, according to the essayists, is the present business model of online journalism leads to fewer and fewer working for less and less – crowd sourcing and volunteerism/internship generating cheap quick content becomes the norm.

Obviously there has always been a tension between publisher’s business interests and investigative journalism’s goals of truth and analysis.The essayists point out that present Digital Mass Media  delivery systems and related technology increases that tension, offering few opportunities for an alternative model to arise.

Technological change has always driven journalism – the expression “hot off the presses “ is not just an old movie cliché.

As Social Media and the ubiquitous digital devices makes news gathering and transmission faster and faster, expectations for gathering and holding the market share of the target audience becomes crucial. The Globe & Mail has taken an interesting approach – Seek out a very specific target audience to make their “upscale” magazine quality newsprint affordable.

The publisher, Phillip Crawley, delivered these comments at the World Publishing Expo(Oct. 8, 2013) in Berlin – “We are really only interested in readers who earn more than $100,000,” . Create a high-end fashion, life style, business oriented publication that can feature high-end products in glossy full-page advertisement. Not exactly Canada’s National newspaper anymore.

New approaches need to be found to bring the journalism into the 21st century, but will it still be journalism ?

Trans Media Gender Music Values

A bit of ironic synchronicity came together, directing my attention to how social trends can play out in different areas of Mass Media,  theatre and music. Technically live theatre can be considered a form of Mass Media and at one time was a dominant form. Music is an art medium that can be conveyed directly to the audience or transmitted by way of a variety mass media, either in a live broadcast or a recording.


This past Sunday, my wife and I watched the live broadcast of the Tony Awards. The biggest story leading up to the show was Neil Patrick Harris performance in the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Harris, as anticipated,  won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, for Hedwig and The Angry Inch. The play won for best revival of a musical.

Neil Patrick Harris -Theatrical

For those unfamiliar with the plays premise,  the protagonist, played by Harris, is Hedwig, a transgender glam rock performer whose botched  surgery leaves her between worlds.  It is a search for identity, love and creative expression.

The play is considered a revival, having played first as an off Broadway production in 1998.  As the original creators of the work noted, Broadway was not quite ready for the play 16 years ago; it was ready for it now.  The relatable TV star persona & marketing power, that Harris brought to the box office, marked it mainstream.

This brings me to some Media Principles in action.  Keep in mind that all Mass Media have business interests that depend on reaching the Target Audience with an appropriate message. Those placing commercials with the award show broadcast need to reach their audience.



Those producing the shows need to attract enough attention to their shows to either get people to come to see the shows in New York or eagerly anticipate the touring productions & purchase the cast recordings.

When it comes to values, beliefs and ideologies, Mass Media  both conveys them and intentionally/unintentionally shapes/re-enforces them. The Tony broadcast illustrates this. Just as there was once a time when showing a cross racial relationship was  breaking through a wall of prejudices & social expectations and establishing a new norm of acceptance of society’s transgender citizens; we are now seeing that occur on the mainstream Broadway musical stage and having it broadcast live on a Sunday night on the CBS network. This is a long way from The Ed Sullivan Show.

In order for the Broadway musical theatre to thrive in competition with other forms of Mass Media it must go past nostalgia and embrace the diversity of 21st century America. There were two instances in this broadcast that speaks to this transition . First is the entertaining meeting of The Music Man and Rap Music when Hugh Jackman, LL Cool and T.I. rap the Music Man.



    The second instance was the emotional history making moment,  Tony Award winner  Audra McDonald’s sixth  Award

    Now with these examples , one would think that forward motion in diversity and acceptance had really begun to turn a corner, but not all areas of live musical performances & related Mass Media adjust at the same pace – there are always Target Audience expectations and Business Interests. This is where I bring the following to your attention, a life imitating art, ……. or was the art just truer than we imagined.  As I said at the opening of the post , it was all triggered by a ironic bit of synchronicity.  After viewing Tony Award show, I came upon this headline on the CBC news site,  Transgender pianist shunned in U.S., gets encore in Edmonton


    “Classical pianist Sara Davis Buechner played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the United States, winning praise from presidents and capturing awards that pointed to a promising career as one of the best in the world”,……… until David came out in 1998 as a transgender woman.  Take note of the year. It was the year of an Off Broadway production and the year that the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony in Carnegie Hall closed its doors in Sara’s face.

    After facing  much emotional turmoil, and a botched surgical procedure that later needed correcting, Sara was able to find a way back to her career and life. Fortunately, Sara found a transition to Canada proved to be more accommodating. The conductors and fellow musicians were only familiar with her as Sara and judged the musicianship. She regained her 60 concert performances a year schedule. She became   teacher at the University of British Columbia in 2003.  “In 2012, she spoke before a standing committee on human rights in Ottawa. Last year, she wrote an essay about her life that ran in the New York Times.”

    She has been performing in America, but making inroads is slow. Perhaps after Neil Patrick  Harris’s performance and award on the Tony Awards Show, the world of classical music will re-discover Sara.  Who knows, she might be on  the Tonys next year.