Cities about to change dramatically

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times by David Carr. It talks about the “Unease Over HoloLens in Screen-Obsessed Lives”.
I enjoyed his article very much. We are a strange species for sure! One does indeed wonder why we seem so obsessed with creating an artifical world when we have the richness of a real world.
One thing I would have liked to have seen the article explore further is the explosion of change that I feel is about to change our cities forever.
I believe that in a very short time, this technology will turn our concept of the city upside down. (The current trend is for cities to grow).
This new technology will eliminate commuter rush hour.
Think about how much resources we spend in order to support our current city design.
We build multi million dollar office towers that require heating, cooling, and maintenance for twenty four hours a day and yet we only use them seven hours a day.
People spend several “hours” a day driving into the cities to then sit at a computer screen. The gas bill for that is enormous not to mention the cost of the extra car, time wasted and the enormous polution.
We also build billion dollar rapid transit lines that are used for one quarter of the day.
Add the cost of expensive multi level, concrete overpasses and the large tolls for bridges.
The costs are (((enormous)))).
I believe that our business world is the largest change about to hit our lives with this new emerging technology… and yet I don’t see people talking about it.
Even the forward thinker like David Carr only mentioned the possibility of doing “conferences” with this new 3D technology. He talked mostly about the games potential.
Our whole world is rapidly going through a major paradigm shift with this new technology.
My biggest concern is that we seem oblivious to the change about to happen and we continue to build larger parking towers in our cities. Even our universities are building larger parking lots. (Can you imagine? Our best thinkers still cram hundreds of students in a room and don’t even allow recording of the lecture! (Talk about being out of touch with the future of education:)
I believe that people will move to cheaper, larger homes in smaller communities and spend more free time with their children in the real world. Right now they are living in stuffy shoe boxes in large cities with their faces jammed into the computer screen everywhere they go.
Businesses are already making changes. Large offices are downsizing and moving a large chunk of their staff to cheaper, smaller offices in smaller cities. The next logical step and the real winners will be the businesses that can cut the cord completely and interact with their employees using this new hologram technology. They will save billions when they find the courage to make this change and will then run circles around their competition. Our children will be the ones to make this step. They already have friends around the world and spend hours playing in the artificial game world.
I find it so funny to see our current business executives still stuck in the horse and buggy mode.

Tony Blair: Fight war of ideas against extremism

swarisover

I should be up front and say that I feel Tony Blair is an ignorant man who should be tried for war crimes. I know that sounds harsh but I truly believe that he made a catastrophic  mistake when he supported  George Bush in the invasion of Iraq. That invasion ignored international law and has largely led to the problems we have today in the middle east.

Having said that, I generally support his recent article “Fight war of ideas against extremism”,where he points out that the world should be looking at finding solutions to ISIS  other than simply trying to bomb them into submission. He points to education. You can read his article here. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29553001

However, I still feel that he hasn’t fully developed his thoughts on the subject. He clearly sees the problem as “their” problem. That somehow “they” need to change. “They need an education”. I agree that education will help with that. But Tony Blair is still totally oblivious to the fact that the west desperately needs to make major changes to how it conducts itself around the world. This is a huge ommission on Tony Blairs part and until leaders like him address this idea then all the wars and all the killing will continue and all the deaths in the past will have been for nothing.

The west needs to address the hypocrisy of ignoring internatioal law when it suits their interests as it did in Iraq. They need to stop participating in regime change which is also against international law and for good reason.

The west  has to stop interfering in other countries. The invasions and sanctions inflict  extreme  havoc on a countries stability. Millions of people fled Iraq after the first Gulf war. Millions spilled out during the crushing sanctions and fled to Jordan and Syria. These refugees caused enormous stress and damage to Syria and the region, helping create the tensions that led to the upheavel we see going on today.

When I spent time in Iraq during those sanction years, it was obvious that the entire region was festering with hate for the west. Entire families were reduced to scavaging. An entire generation of young men and women had no hope for an education or a real job. The suffering was  well reported at the time but Tony Blair ignored the reports coming in from many agencies on the ground in Iraq. UNICEF, for example, reported that several hundred thousand children died as a direct result of those sanctions. Can you imagine the hate that that alone would generate? No hope. No future. No education. And now Mr. Blair talks about how these people need to be educated. After he played a huge part in blocking it in the first place.

I expected blowback and we saw that with 911.  The unravelling of the middle east was predicted by many scholars at the time, but we see headlines by world leaders today saying that they never saw this coming.

My point is that Tony Blair and western leaders seem  oblivious to the death and destruction we have done. His article makes that clear. He sees the change needed as one sided. If only “those” people would get some education. When in fact, it should be both sides that need an honest reflection on what they are doing.

We saw this same one sided view with the fall of the former Soviet Union. The west smuggly patted itself on the back because it thought that our economic model was the best. But Gorbachev had pointed out in his book, Perestroika, that “both” sides needed to reflect on how we do business and structure our society. (we now have bank failures, debt and stagnation that is suffocating our children’s future)

Tony Blair is  the same fool that he was when he left political office.

I hope the west comes to it’s senses and makes radical changes to our policies of  bullying and pushing our weight around the world. The hate that we see aimed at us comes from the millions of lives that we  have extinguished . It comes from the millions of refugees that have had to gather up all their children and belongings and trudge across deserts looking for somewhere to rest and find food.

There was another recent article by, Jonathan Powell on CNN. (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/15/opinion/powell-isis/index.html?hpt=hp_c1)

He stresses the need to talk to terrorists. I certainly agree with that idea. We need to find out what it is these groups want and you can only do that by talking. As he says in his article, these groups are not unique or special. They will always pop up and you simply can’t kill every one of them. You need to know why they pop up and how they get support to exist in the first place.

I believe that the best way to defeat groups like ISIS is to knock the pins out of their support. Treat people with dignity and respect as you would expect to be treated. Speak out when you see countries ignore international law or ignore  UN mandates.

Pay the complete costs for rebuilding when you bomb them.

Better yet…..just stop bombing them.

Municipality of Oak Bay, Piano Painted by Deryk Houston (June 2014)

pianofinal

I am excited about doing this project for the Oak Bay municipality. It was organized by Barbara Adams.
After sitting looking at the piano for some time, I decided to change my original idea. I thought the design would work better to frame the landscape with abstract lines and colour variations. I wanted to play with the idea of peace and my thoughts turned to John Lennon’s “Imagine.
I painted some music in thin lines across the landscape image section, but I made a mistake with the spacing of the notes and as I reworked that portion it occurred to me that it might be good to just leave out the musical notes, allowing people to fill in their own music for the space in their imagination.
As I worked, students from the school would stop and ask questions. At the start of the project I was repeatedly asked why I was painting a piano. They seemed mystified that anyone would paint a piano because pianos were meant to be black. brown or white. As the work progressed The students became quite excited about the colours and stopped asking why I was painting a piano. They seemed more interested in where it would go and if they could play it. Some students asked if I would place their names on it and so I did. They were so excited to see their names as part of the painted piano and they would bring their friends around and show them. More names were added by request. (I didn’t use their last names.)
I placed nuclear formulas across the surface. Some for nuclear war. Some for nuclear medicine. It is about choices.
The colours and the decorative look reminded me of the Beatles Rolls Royce and so I emphasized and worked with that in mind.
I like the idea of taking something that has an expected quality or image and then transforming that into something more fun and less establishment. Making it more unusual. Not unlike the idea of finding a piano in the street or in a landscape where one would not expect it.
I take my art seriously. I have introduced several ideas into this work. I am interested in war and peace. Communication is difficult and it can lead to conflict.
In the art world, there are those who like the abstract and those who like more traditional works such as landscapes. They often have a lack of respect for each other. One easily dismisses the other. I’m fascinated by that because, like most conflicts, the two sides often have many things in common than they might realize.
That is why I have combined landscape with the abstract in this work.
I think they can work together well and I enjoy both.

MUNICIPALITY OF OAK BAY ‘PAINTED PIANO” PROJECT

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MUNICIPALITY OF OAK BAY ‘PAINTED PIANO” PROJECT
I am starting painting on the piano this coming week. The idea was presented to me by Barbara Adams who is co ordinating this project for Oak Bay.
I will post photos of the progress as it develops over the next few days.
My idea is to focus on the new series of works I am doing on Canada’s west coast. I want to create an iconic impression of our special coastline. I find it a challenge because obviously every sunday painter will do this imagery. The challenge is to do it in a way that goes beyond the cliche and create something that nails the image in a way that everyone can relate to in a new way, while at the same time latching on to that iconic idea. I don’t want to do a scene of a particular place. The imagery is from my own space. It is simply the feel or the spirit of our coastline as I have experienced it over the past fifty years since I arrived from Scotland.
I believe that our coastline merits a good study because it is our part of the world with it’s own history and beauty. It would be easy to dismiss it as too local. But I like challenges and I enjoy doing things that the establishment in the “artistic community” might dismiss.
I’ll never forget hearing a comment made by someone from a Public  Art Gallery. They said something to the effect….”if I see one more painting of a flower I’ll scream”.
The comment stood out for me because I found it very narrow in thinking. I would never close my mind to an idea. One never knows where it could lead.
It takes courage to “risk” being boring.
I think artists should take risks. That is why I am focusing on our coastline right now.

Hamilton Child Care Centre Public Art Project


Birds, Bird Houses, fish, Cats, and nest like structures for Site 01
Emphasis on recycled and found objects, durability and fun.

Hamilton Child Care Centre Public Art Project (Richmond, BC, Canada)

fence

birdhouse2

fish

rooster

teapotbirdhouse

 

Hamilton Child Care Centre Public Art Project

 

We are a father and son team and have created several large scale sculptures for public spaces in the past. We have a proven record of working with city staff and engineers and are registered with work safe BC and carry insurance. All our projects have been completed on time and on budget.

 

We would like to propose a combination of a 2D and 3D design for this project, providing a whole new range of possibilities of interaction with the visitors and the children.

Our design would feature a multiple series of Stainless Steel, whimsical birds, bird houses, fish and cats that would rest on one and a half inch, slightly wavy shaped, stainless steel poles attached to the outside fence.

These would rise up into the space “above” each fence areas. (Site 01 sections of fence.)

The artwork would be enjoyed from both sides of the fence which we feel presents a whole new dimension to the work.

Technically this would raise the height of the fence and so we would be applying for a variance  permit. We do not foresee a problem getting a variance on the fence height.

 

Each pole would have stainless steel branch like shapes and large spoons attached and other found objects to create a sense of leaves or stems and patterns against the wood fence.

 

The idea would be to provide a stimulating series of images that catch the eyes of both the young and the old. Each section of fence area would have a theme of either birds, birdhouses, fish, cats, and simple nest like, tangled structures.

An emphasis would be placed on using recycled stainless steel spoons, forks, bowls, nuts, bolts, chain,

musical instruments etc. Final designs of each would depend on available found objects.

There would be 26 structures in total.

 

The “Main sculptures” (13 pieces) would be comprised of either a bird, a birdhouse, a fish, or a cat.

 

The “Backdrop Filler sculptures” would be nest like , tangled structures. ( simple bundles of steel whimsical shapes). The backdrop filler sculptures would add high visual and artistic value to the overall design and yet be simple enough to allow us to provide a significant eye catching impact for a large area and yet still stay within the limited budget of ten thousand dollars.

These structures (birdhouses, etc) would be approximately two feet tall plus the height of the poles. Total height would be discussed with everyone.The artwork would be enjoyed from both sides of the fence which we feel gives a whole new dimension to the work.

 

The three smaller width fence areas would each have three “Main Sculptures” and three “backdrop filler sculptures”.

The single widest fence area would have four “Main Sculptures” and four “backdrop filler sculptures”.

 

Materials: Stainless steel, with large emphasis on found stainless steel objects, such as kettles, stainless steel water supply lines, copper lines, providing a permanent art installation with no maintenance required.

 

Each structure will have exaggerated shapes and visually effective textures to add visual interest, such as holes drilled into the surface, ribbons of steel for the contours to define shapes, the use of wavy panels, spoons, forks, found stainless steel objects, shredded stainless steel shavings from recycled lathe cuttings, acorn head bolts, screws, multiple layers of steel sheets etc etc.

All structures would be designed to be visually stimulating when viewed from either side of the fence.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Deryk Houston and Samuel Houston

250 598 9908

Peace Sanctuary Sculpture Park first stage

pitblackberriesdug
We have been busy working on the first section of the tree section of our sculpture park.
The first task has been cutting down the blackberry bushes which have taken over a good corner of the .7 acres on Woodwynn Farms. I have had some wonderful help from young volunteers from Uvic and also from people working on the Farm as regulars. There is so much to do but by breaking the job down into sections it should be very manageable.
We have used the Canadian “Kickstarter” fundraiser program and this has proved to be a good way to raise funds for this project. I am so grateful to my friends who have stepped in to help by donating and we have exceeded our set goal which will allow us to do the job right.
Funding has always been an issue and in the past I have muddled along. I’ve always had help from friends and for that I am most grateful. People have given me support spiritually, emotionally, and in so many other ways.
I couldn’t do my work without you.
And so I keep plodding away, one step at a time. It is somewhat overwhelming if I look at all the area at once needing attention, but by breaking it down into sections, I find it very exciting and manageable.
I have a general overview plan but at the same time I am feeling my way carefully and keeping many options open. As I spend more time on the land, understanding certain view opportunities etc, it helps me plan for the next stage. I want to avoid having a preset plan and simply producing that. This is very much the same way I paint. I enjoy the process and being led by what happens as I work out the structure of a painting. But there is always the underlying plan that keeps things together and makes sure that one is not in a total free for all.
Anyway. I wanted to thank everyone who has helped us in this project and I hope I can do you all proud.
If you would like to help fund this project go to this link.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/305508954/treed-path-peace-sanctuary-sculpture-park-at-woodw

This “kicktstarter” fundraiser ends on Oct 16th but if you are reading this at a later date then e mail me at derykhouston@shaw.ca and I will explain what we are doing further and also accept your donation. If you wanted to do some landscaping work…raking, laying out paths, moving soil, etc then let me know that also. Thank you!

You can also find further info about the project at http://peacesanctuarysculpturepark.org/

Sowing the seeds of Peace

Sept 26th 2013
I am very grateful to Sarah Petrescu and the Times Colonist for taking the time to write about my project at Woodwynn Farms.
http://www.timescolonist.com/victoria-artist-sows-seeds-of-sanctuary-at-woodwynn-farm-1.638669
I totally agree with the Central Saanich councillor, Alicia Cormier, comments about making sure that good farmland is put to good use.
That is why my work on the farm supports that idea by making sure that every facet of this project is about the edible plants. The first and foremost thought has been focused on the idea that food will be the experience. The area chosen for the site has been an unused portion of the farm that is now going to be put to productive use by growing herbs,fruits and grains. I believe that people will see the interesting sculpture as the background scenery and serve as a draw to attract people who will enjoy the fruits of peoples labour.
I grew up on a farm and I was always dazzled by the art I saw forming before my eyes as a tractor cut the hay and left beautiful creative lines across the field.
The world famous Yorkshire sculpture park, set on farmland in England recognizes these beautiful relationships between life, people, art and farmland. I hope this work will do the same for everyone here in Central Saanich.

Anyone who wants to support our project might wish to log into “Kickstarter” at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/305508954/treed-path-peace-sanctuary-sculpture-park-at-woodw

Take care and thanks for everyones support.
Deryk Houston

New Sculpture by my son Samuel Houston

ssam'ssculpture
My son Samuel has just completed a new sculpture for the city of Nanaimo. It is called “Borrowed Light”.
The design is entirely his and I think it worked out just great. We don;t have a large workshop but this piece came together without any hitches. If I learned anything from my trips to Iraq, it was to learn to make do with what you have and I try to pass on this idea to Samuel. (One never has a big enough budget or a big enough work space or all the special tools we would like but with carefull planning one can do amazing things).
The tall arching steel was shaped in Vancouver to Samuels specs. It amazes me how much power must be in the machines that can nicely shape and bend four inch hard steel into a consistant form. It worked beautifully. Each section was delivered to our front lawn by a large truck. We then carried the pieces around to our backyard. The largest piece had to be carried through our neighbours yard in order to make it around corners and then carefully lowered into our back work space. The steel weighs about ten pounds a foot and so it adds up quickly to a deadweight. The first task was to get the main standing post into position. Samuel welded the heavy base onto the four inch thick steel and then calculated the shapes that would act as braces in order to carry the tremendous forces driving through the arching main shape. These special braces were cut at a shop near our home. We don;t have special overhead cranes to lift anything and so we had to improvise in order to get the main post up using sheer brute force. Our first priority is safety and so we decided to cut a few feet off the main arch in order to make the structure more manageable. We then created special arching brackets that would allow us to attach that section back on. Everything is heavy duty. We would rather overengineer than take chances with strength in design.
The other sections were then hoisted up into position using a pulley and rope. There is tremendous power in pulleys as they cut down the load several times and allow you to lift a substantial weight with a small amount of effort. Samuel added extra brackets to the design in order to carry the loads. The weght is carried in a simple way using several built in redundancy measures. The result is a clean design that is very strong.
After assembly here in our backyard and workshop, we dismantled the sculpture and installed it in Nanaimo. Everything went like clockwork thanks to the city engeneering department and Samuels careful planning. I was very proud how he took charge and set to work with the installation. Congratulations Samuel on a job well done!

Justin Trudeau and his take on Boston bombing

I have to say that I am super pleased with the comments made by Justin Trudeau regarding the bombings in Boston.
On the other hand, Canada’s current prime minister, Steven Harper, has shown his lack of logic by stating that we shouldn’t be trying to understand why these bombings took place in the first place.
I’m much happier with Justin Trudeau’s open mind approach and it is encouraging to get a glimmer into what might be his foreign policy stance were he to win the next federal election.
We have to understand why these terrible events are happening. This doesn;t mean forgiving or condoning these acts in any way but if were to find out the basic root of the problem it might go a long way in preventing future attacks.
People do things for love or hate. We must try and understand where that hate comes from.
Drone attacks have killed thousand of innocent people. Often it is children. I believe that our world would be much safer if we did not kill peoples children with drone attacks. I believe that our world would be much safer if we did not ignore international law such as engaging in “regime change” as we did in Libya and Iraq. (Many of the politicians who supported the idea of regime change in Libya now regret that move because of the horrible way events have unfolded since with continued cival war.) The same kind of mess is happening in Iraq with bombings on a daily basis. Same with Afghanistan and Syria.
I would like to hear Justin Trudeau explain what his foreign policy will be. So far no one in the LIberal party has been able to tell me what his stand is. This has been annoying for me as you can read and hear in my previous blog posting.
But….I am hopeful just the same that this young man might be about to breath a breath of fresh air into Canada’s sails.
I sure hope so because Steven Harper is leading Canada down a path of ruin.

One of Deryk Houston’s frustrating phone calls to Justin Trudeau’s office

For the last several weeks I have been trying to find out what Justin Trudeau’s position would be on foreign policy if he became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I would love to know because I am interested in the Liberal Party of Canada and I always had a lot of respect for his father. I liked how Canada used to be known as a “Peace Keeper” before we sold our souls to America by horse trading away our beliefs.
My phone calls and e mails have been ignored and I have been hung up on several times when I call Justin Trudeau’s office for answers to my basic questions. The folowing clip is just one of many phone calls that I happened to record when I phoned his office. You can listen to it here.

Keep in mind that several times I have been promised that someone will get back to me and no one has to this date.

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Please click on the link below to view a video of another call made to the same office. Once again, the person hung up on me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgRtBbJhC8cPr0T0&feature=youtu.be