Introduction, by Shannon Bingeman (editor)
Volume One Introduction
The realization of this journal owes much gratitude to the Carleton University community. It was within this collegial atmosphere, with the support of faculty and peers, that many of the ideas featured in this issue were born and brought into fruition. I especially want to thank the members of the journal committee: Sarah Eastman, Caitlin Charbonneau, Rebecca Basciano and Diane Pellicone, who dedicated their time and effort to brainstorming ideas along with the fastidious task of editing, re-editing and formatting the articles. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the contributors. Their dedication to this open forum enables a vast readership to gain valuable insight into their respective topics. Gratitude is also owed to AHGSS and the GSA for providing the necessary funding to support our endeavours. Finally, a special thank you goes out to Germain Wiseman for ‘rendering’ our logo, a fixture that will hopefully endure for many years and many articles to come.
William Topley’s Fancy Dress Ball Portraits: Fabricating Identity in Victorian Canada
by: Emma Hamilton-Hobbs, MA Art History
On February 23, 1876, Lord Dufferin, the newly appointed Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Lady Dufferin, hosted their Grand Fancy Ball in Ottawa, which was widely reported all over North America and Europe, and became the paradigm of all subsequent fancy dress balls held in Canada. The fancy dress ball was a private costumed party, where no masks were worn, that grew over the course of the nineteenth century and became an increasingly popular social affair amongst Canada’s elite men and women. Like other Victorian sanctioned activities and events, both the hosts and their guests were expected to conduct themselves in a ‘proper manner’ that befitted their social status. However, these rare occasions also allowed men and women to assume, albeit temporarily, a fictitious identity that subverted or transgressed conventional values and norms.
William James Topley (1845-1930), who owned and operated his own photographic studio in Ottawa between 1872-1926, photographed many esteemed politicians and royals over the years, including the Governors General and their families. In this paper, I will be analyzing a composite photograph of the aforementioned fancy dress ball that was assembled by Topley, in addition to individual and group photographs that are included in the final composite image. I will be discussing how Topley has utilized portraiture conventions and other formal elements to create an image that is at once unified and hierarchical, and that promotes an ideological framework that, in Althusser’s terms, interpellates subjects who hold similar aristocratic values and beliefs. I will also argue, using Judith’s Butler’s notion of gender performativity, that these portraits reveal to us the ways in which men and women could exercise certain liberties in the context of a fancy dress ball, and how the rigorous Victorian male/female dichotomy could be temporarily destabilized. Finally, I will be analyzing a few portraits of individuals who assumed a highly romantic identity of the oriental or native ‘other,’ which mirrored nineteenth century imperial and colonial discourses.
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Reclaiming Time: The Past, Present and Future in Ruins
by: Charles Christopher Moorhouse, MA Architecture
Abandoned spaces and ruins represent more than meets the eye. They represent the passage of time by recording the past, existing in the present and prophesizing the future. When we get lost in the nostalgia of what was, or distracted by the visual shock of decay, we lose the ability to understand the spectrum of time and our role within it. By acknowledging the passage of time, we remove ourselves from the now to better understand the present.
With ruin photography becoming increasingly popular it is important to analyze what is being represented. One cannot talk about ruin photography without talking about Detroit since it is the modern mecca of urban ruins. This obsession with Detroit however has led to a shallow understanding of architectural ruin, abandoned space and aesthetic of decay. Much of it can be considered “ruin porn”, a term circulating the photographic communities. Not all ruin photography focuses on the shock of ruins. If one looks outside of the current Detroit trend, it is easy to find examples. Devon OpdenDries’ work in Alberta shows a visual understanding of spatiality, light and architectural narrative. OpdenDries also uses a process known as light painting, which allows him to control the photograph’s content. He goes beyond the role of photographer and becomes an artist. The spaces inspire, but then he transforms them, makes them his own by complimenting the existing. By highlighting certain elements he creates a subject and a context, adding layers of information. Through this artistic control, we as viewers gain a heightened sense of space and aesthetic of decay than a typical photographic documentation. Another figure that is interesting to look at is Gordon Matta-Clark who is well known for his building cuts that exist as photographs today. His building cut project called “Day’s End” is particularly interesting when looking at abandoned spaces. While time is at the forefront of the experience, the project is also inspired by its context, something greatly lacking in the many photos of Detroit.
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Horror Soundtracks and the Unseen Demonic: The Exorcist (1973)
by: Pamela Morrow, MA Music and Culture
Horror film music is frequently divorced from its corresponding images and sound effects when analyzed. The possession film, a horror sub-genre, has received very little scholarly attention in regards to its music. The Exorcist in particular has garnered minimal attention, but scholars such as K.J. Donnelly, Mark Evans and Florian Mundhenke continue to examine the music independent of the images. Other scholars such as Regina Hansen, Mark Kermode and Larrie Duduenhoeffer have examined the film using theologian, film and sociological methods. My paper addresses the issue of the music in The Exorcist with special attention placed on attempting to eliminate the divide between image and sound. I will be specifically focusing on how the music is incorporated into the film (ex: Tubular Bells, Polymorphia), what sounds are most prevalent (ex: sul ponticello, exaggerated techniques) and how the music is used to manipulate the responses of the audience without providing a comprehensive guide indicating what will happen and the corresponding reactions. The composers themselves and their techniques will also be discussed with special emphasis on their musical relationship with the demonic (ex: George Crumb and numerology, Krzysztof Penderecki’s sonorism and his atonal opera). This film incorporates music in a different fashion than traditional horror films and its legacy has influenced horror films that followed it. The Exorcist’s reputation and influential status makes it the ideal film for the analysis of horror film music and how it can be used to manipulate audiences’ innate and social fears without dictating their reactions. This paper will provide valuable insight into the music of one of the most terrifying films ever made.
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Politics of Style: Travel, Modernism, and The French Embassy
by: Diane Pellicone, MA Art History
With the help of world expositions, Art Deco succeeded in promoting France as a global entity with growing colonial interests. The 1925 Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes was the government’s first attempt to aggressively reinforce its rightful place as a leader of good taste. Politicizing arts and culture, France began marketing its own national identity as a consumable product. It can be argued however, that succeeding world fairs became more definitive of Art Deco and the packaging of French modernity. For example, despite the onset of global recession, France mounted the 1931 Exposition Coloniale, which presented France as an enduring imperial power and devoted the majority of the pavilions to the promotion of its own colonial pursuits. This ethnographic display of ‘othering’ demonstrates an expectant commercial viability in French trade and industry during a tumultuous time. I propose that the exportation of nationalism was fulfilled through the efficiency of modern travel, leading to the consequential augmentation of international relations. For instance, by merging Art Deco style with resourceful engineering, the streamlined effect of travelling was absorbed into the design of ocean liners during the interwar years. Large and powerful, ships like the SS Normandie were not only outfitted for transatlantic travel, but were floating exhibitions of comfort and luxury. The efficiency of speed actually became a state of mind, indicating how the utilization of technological progress privileged the consumer with the unofficial means of cultural diplomacy. As a result, this paper will demonstrate that the French Embassy in Ottawa is a product of this systematic exportation of France’s national style and culture. Literally anchoring itself within a foreign country’s borders, the embassy not only ensured the acceptable pursuit of political and economic interests, but rendered itself a promotional tool for the French Ministry of Fine Arts, politicizing the Art Deco movement in the name of modernity.
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Cold War Architecture: The Russian Embassy in Ottawa
by: Ellen Pyear, MA Art History
This paper will examine the heritage value of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa. Located at
285 Charlotte Street in Sandy Hill, the current Russian Embassy was constructed after a 1956 fire destroyed the building in which they were initially housed. The fire gave the Soviets an opportunity to create a purpose-built embassy that would serve as a symbol of their cultural and political identity. The building’s rectilinear shape, emphasis on symmetry, imposing sense of order, and use of glass, stone, metal, and concrete, are all defining features of its modern design. Specifically, these elements are reflective of stripped classicism, a style prominently figured within both Soviet and Canadian government architecture in the early and mid-twentieth century.
Despite alterations made to the façade of the building after the fall of the Soviet Union,the Embassy still remains a symbol of Cold War aesthetics and the complex relationship that existed between Canada and Russia during the 1950s. The Embassy’s unique design attributes and comprehensive ideological narrative also speak to its role as a diplomatic structure. Constructed during the height of the Cold War, the building’s is a reflection of security concerns and the USSR’s need to convey a powerful façade. By focusing on the Embassy’s role as a visual marker of a contentious time in Russian-Canadian relations, and how this informed its diplomatic design, this essay will demonstrate why the Russian Embassy is an important heritage structure within both a local and Canadian context.
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