7-1 Table of Contents

North By West

We are pleased to launch North By West, an issue ded­i­cat­ed to pho­to­graph­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of West­ern Cana­da. We are par­tic­u­lar­ly pleased that it is appear­ing in Imag­i­na­tions, as I have a his­to­ry with the jour­nal. We believe strong­ly in Imag­i­na­tions as a gold-stan­dard open-access knowl­edge-democ­ra­cy project that is free to sub­mit to, pub­lish in, and read. It is the per­fect venue to show­case this spe­cial issue on Cana­di­an pho­tog­ra­phy because, as an online visu­al jour­nal, it not only push­es bound­aries of what is pos­si­ble in terms of lay­out and deliv­ery, but it is also an inno­v­a­tive pub­li­ca­tion that has allowed us as guest edi­tors to push and pull what it means to think crit­i­cal­ly about visu­al iden­ti­ties of place and to cre­ate rela­tion­ships between artists and scholar-critics.

It is this vision for col­lab­o­ra­tive inter­dis­ci­pli­nary work that inspired North By West. Core to my approach as a social sci­en­tist and pho­tog­ra­ph­er is the goal to break down bar­ri­ers between com­mu­ni­ties of inquiry and prac­tice. Dur­ing my PhD, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a SSHRC-fund­ed research project called Social Land­scapes of Fort McMur­ray with my PhD super­vi­sors Dr. Rob Shields and Dr. Sara Dorow. While they car­ried out inter­views with city plan­ners, Indige­nous lead­ers, work­ing moth­ers, and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, I con­duct­ed par­tic­i­pa­to­ry-action research with high-school stu­dents who were invit­ed to cre­ate visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tions as respons­es to the ques­tion Where is Fort McMur­ray? I pro­vid­ed them with cam­eras and guid­ed them through ques­tions of ethics and com­po­si­tion, ask­ing them to think crit­i­cal­ly about the places where they live. Young peo­ple filmed and mapped aspects of life in Fort McMur­ray invis­i­ble to out­siders. In so doing they became not only pho­tog­ra­phers but social and cul­tur­al ethno­g­ra­phers and crit­ics. Where was the divide? The cam­eras allowed them to make their cul­tur­al knowl­edge vis­i­ble to them­selves and to their com­mu­ni­ties. This prac­tice also made obvi­ous the fal­si­ty of imag­in­ing art as sep­a­rate from life, the artist as sep­a­rate from the social critic.
As a pho­tog­ra­ph­er-researcher I find that main­tain­ing a prac­tice of pho­tograph­ing with oth­er schol­ars as co-present wit­ness­es and inter­locu­tors in space and time is of great intel­lec­tu­al and social ben­e­fit. As a work­ing method the pho­tog­ra­ph­er-researcher is a named action that rep­re­sents a way for a schol­ar and visu­al artist to engage in prac­tices that are mul­ti­ple and dialec­ti­cal. What we share while out in the field—or even while cook­ing food togeth­er, as some of our col­lab­o­ra­tors had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do—is the expe­ri­ence of being mutu­al bene­fac­tors. As one of our col­lab­o­ra­tors adept­ly not­ed, we set out to social­ly engi­neer a series of col­lab­o­ra­tions to prove our point: cre­at­ing togeth­er is better.

As edi­tors, we would like to thank you, our read­ers, for join­ing us on this attempt to pro­duce new knowl­edge around bring­ing visu­al research and schol­ar­ly inquiry to focus on pre­vi­ous­ly under­rep­re­sent­ed land­scapes and art­works of north­west­ern North Amer­i­ca. We would like to thank our con­trib­u­tors for the con­ver­sa­tions, emails, post­ed let­ters, and care­ful­ly con­sid­ered writ­ings that took place with­in and between our col­lab­o­ra­tive group­ings. We also express deep appre­ci­a­tion to all those who have been a part of Imag­i­na­tions over the years, who have trust­ed in the poten­tial of an open-access online jour­nal, and who have read, reviewed, cit­ed, endorsed, con­tributed, and engaged in the crit­i­cal and cre­ative work herein.

—Andriko Lozowy

Like my co-edi­tor , I com­plet­ed my under­grad­u­ate work at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta. In ret­ro­spect, I would clas­si­fy my time there as search­ing, as I fre­quent­ly stepped out­side the com­fort of my cho­sen dis­ci­pline. Mov­ing beyond required oblig­a­tions I embraced trans­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty and became inter­est­ed in cross-dis­ci­pli­nary con­ver­sa­tions. I took notice that Visu­al Arts and Social Sci­ences depart­ments were often engaged in sim­i­lar con­ver­sa­tions but were not in dia­logue or in con­ver­sa­tion over what I call the “dis­ci­pline ridge.”

Look­ing for a way to bridge my cross-dis­ci­pli­nary inter­ests I attend­ed Gold­smiths and com­plet­ed a Mas­ter of Arts in Pho­tog­ra­phy and Urban Cul­tures. Paul Hal­l­i­day, a prac­tic­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er and schol­ar, leads the Gold­smiths pro­gram to bring togeth­er an inter­na­tion­al and trans­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lec­tion of thinkers and prac­ti­tion­ers. The process and the out­comes of the MA pro­gram were designed to be flex­i­ble. I expe­ri­enced the flex­i­bil­i­ty of the Gold­smiths pro­gram first­hand by the fact its pre­dom­i­nant focus was Urban while my dis­ser­ta­tion con­cen­trat­ed on Rur­al com­mu­ni­ties in West­ern Cana­da. As stu­dents we were instruct­ed not think of our dis­ci­pli­nary roots as places of retreat and shel­ter, but rather as oppor­tu­ni­ties for shar­ing, learn­ing, and col­lab­o­ra­tion. The pho­tog­ra­phers learned how to dis­cuss their work in rela­tion to schol­ar­ly Social Sci­ences dia­logues, and the Social Sci­ence folks were encour­aged to devel­op a visu­al prac­tice. Process drove col­lab­o­ra­tion through mutu­al exchanges of shared time, often in local tap­rooms—The Hob­gob­lin with its mod­est­ly priced ciders and aro­mat­ic Thai green cur­ry offer­ing meet­ing places to dis­cuss issues of utmost importance.

Through my MA research I ques­tioned facets of pho­tog­ra­phy and rur­al cul­ture in the Cana­di­an West. I fur­ther devel­oped my inter­ests in archival stud­ies, region­al­ism, and visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the West. I am cur­rent­ly a doc­tor­al stu­dent in the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Cul­ture pro­gram at York University—a joint pro­gram between York and Ryer­son uni­ver­si­ties in Toron­to. My cur­rent intel­lec­tu­al pur­suits focus on the idea of elic­it­ing and nur­tur­ing con­ver­sa­tions that are sep­a­rat­ed by the dis­ci­pli­nary ridge. North By West engages in cross-dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty as a means to make active the kinds of expe­ri­ence, learn­ing, and train­ing I have under­gone. I am an advo­cate for dia­logue between, across, through, and beyond rei­fied dis­ci­plines. The col­lab­o­ra­tions found in North By West are pre­sent­ed as a fur­ther evo­lu­tion of ways of work­ing togeth­er, but also as the­o­ret­i­cal and geo­graph­ic points of inquiry where tem­po­ral­i­ty gives way to expan­sion, cri­tique, and possibilities.

I find intel­lec­tu­al and cre­ative ful­fill­ment through col­lab­o­ra­tion, as I find the aca­d­e­m­ic halls and the process of pho­tog­ra­phy often soli­tary pur­suits. I pre­fer com­pa­ny. Since my for­ma­tive time at Gold­smiths, I have pur­sued col­lab­o­ra­tive modes of pub­lish­ing words and images with the inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing house The Vel­vet Cell as well as a num­ber of pho­tog­ra­phy projects, most notably my col­lab­o­ra­tion with Yan­i­na Shevchenko on the project Geor­gia Geor­gia.

North By West is my first expe­ri­ence as a co-archi­tect and co-edi­tor of a visu­al and schol­ar­ly col­lab­o­ra­tion. I have had the good for­tune to expe­ri­ence the edi­to­r­i­al role as well con­tribute my own work to this col­lec­tion. Like a proud par­ent I see this scholar/art project as an enti­ty unto itself, ready to face the praise and scorn it must endure.

—Kyler Zele­ny