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The embryo around Jack Shadbolt

Intermedia—helping man adjust to a new rhythm of living

...unless he accepts multiple exposures of the electronic age he is sunk


"The new possibilities for inter sensory experience unfolding as a result of technological developments taking place in this electronic age, have seized the imagination of the creative artists all over the world."

"On the west coast, there are a number of groups and individuals experimenting with total-involvement-theater, television, electronic programming of audio and visual images, projecting printmaking. . . "

"These people are working under sever handicaps. By its very nature, this kind of creative activity requires an investment in equipment and facilities which are simply beyond the resources of individual artists."

"The logical solution to this dilemma is, of course, the creation of a common facility, providing a pool of equipment, space to work and perform adequately, and a place where new consortia of those engaged in those types of creative explorations can be developed."

In these words Jack Shadbolt described Intermedia in his submission to the Canada Council — a submission which was recently rewarded with a grant of $40,000.

For once the council waved its rule that it will only support a body that already exists, not only because of the common sense behind the proposal but because of the stature of those involved.

Jack Shadbolt, the chairman of Intermedia, is one of Canada's most distinguished artists, who retired last year from the Vancouver School of Art as head of the Department of Drawing and Painting.

Surrounding him is a highly responsible board of directors: Henry Elder, head of the School of Architecture of UBC; Victor Doray, head of the Department of Medical Illustration, UBC; Sol Kort of the UBC extensions department; Joseph Kyle o, independent management consultant; Edward Bakony, head of the Audio- Visual Department at the BC Institute of Technology; Dr. A. R. MacKinnon, dean of education at SFU; Dr. J. F. Ellis, head of SFU's Professional Foundations Department; and Dr. T. J. Mallinson, chairman of the Communications Center, SFU. Although these men are serving a individuals rather than representatives of institutions, they non the less indicate the broad basis of Intermedia support.
Another reason for this large grant from the Canada Council to an organization which existed only in embryo is the urgency of the situation.

As Jack Shadbolt puts it: "There are whole new modes of sensory involvement that have to be investigated. Man has been extended so radically by multiple exposure to a thousand and one different things that unless he is able to accommodate to this new rhythm of living, he's sunk."

"Artists are traditionally people who help in the problem of adjusting the psyche to a new social system. According to McLuhan they are key figures because they train on the intuition, not on logical deduction."

The Intermedia workshop will thus be accessible to artists of all kinds — architects, painters, photographers, play makers, kinetic sculptors. It will also welcome scientists, educators, and students who may want to watch the experiments.

In fact the surge of interest from all sides will create a heavy problem of scheduling, especially since most people will want to work at night.

They will have to apply to workshop manager David Orcutt, who will then discuss their projects further with a screening committee made up of certain members of the board of directors, technical specialists and experienced artists. "We're not merely gadget-happy," says Jack Shadbolt.

The board is at present looking for a fair sized building, centrally located and with high ceilings. It will be equipped with tape recorders, cine and photographic equipment, television, projectors and video -tape recorders.

In Montreal printmaker Richard Lacroix is attempting to set up Fusion des Arts and we recently saw at the Vancouver Art Gallery a production based on intra-systems in Toronto, made up of a sculptor a poet and a composer.

Intermedia, it is clear, is far broader in scope and has also a philosophical program running parallel to its workshop. Seminars and discussions are already being mapped by next winter. Topics might be leisure, the new economics, impact of media on the consolidation of canada, the uses of film, etc.

I asked Audrey Capel Doray, who organized a carnival last week at the Vancouver Art Gallery involving chanting, dance, sound and projection, what Intermedia meant to her.

She replied that now groups will have a place to rehearse, so that their presentations will be properly integrated and in greater depth. At present , with equipment rented just for the night of the performance, they can do no more than improvise.
She also noted that although artists are essentially egocentric, there is an amazing new spirit of co-operation among them. About 25 have been sitting in on the Intermedia discussions since January.

She herself "would lap it up" if a scientist-technician could teach her more about polarized light, or if she could learn how to integrate sound recordings with multimedia paintings.

Other projects suggested to Intermedia have been a full depth study undertaken by an architect and a photographer of the stresses brought to bear on us by living in a certain environment. this would entail both still and moving photography.

Another pairing would be a poet and a composer in an exploration of linguists and sound or a multimedia of Dylan thomas' Under the Milkwood," using dancers.
However, before approval is given to any of these dreams, Intermedia must surmount a last hurdle. The Canada Council, like God , still helps those that help themselves: Its grant is contingent on obtaining $20,000 worth of equipment locally. Jack Shadbolt is hopeful that the citizens of Vancouver will recognize the validity of the project and that manufacturers of electronics equipment will be generous.

He takes heart from a successful experiment conducted in New York last October and reported in the New York Times. It was called Nine Evenings: Theater and Engineering, and took place at the 69th Regiment Armory, scene of that sensational exhibition of 1913 which capitulated American art into the 20th century.

For this festival some 30 Bell Telephone engineers donated their time to ten artists of the caliber of painter Robert Rochinberg and composer John Cage.
At first there was no communication because the artists could not verbalize in scientific terms, nor could the engineers put over their points.

But after about three months of meetings they began to hear each other. The interesting point is that then the results were multi-directional. Not only did the artists realize their desires but the engineers made breakthroughs to a number of inventions endowed with what the New York Times calls"hot commercial appeal," One was an automated back stage theatrical control system, another a pocket sized amplifier with a staggering output of 20 watts.

An engineer remarked afterwards: " I never knew any artists before this, and i've learned to think in entirely different dimension. No one has ever before drawn out of me the time, labor and thought that they did."
All of which proves Jack Shadbolt's contention that "nobody can predict what is going to happen in a creative atmosphere."

Photo illustration:

JACK SHADBOLT . . . new possibilities of extrasensory experience.

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