Tag Archives: letters from russia

Letters from Russia project

Letters from Russia serialized in Exode.ca

Letters from Russia pageMy work of fictional epistletory literature project “Letters from Russia” is serialized in the writing & essays section in Exode.ca — a new online magazine whose mission described thusly: By showcasing and diffusing creative work on the web, we seek to give artists the exposure and recognition that their work merits.

Letters from Russia is a mixed media work including hand-written letters, paintings, sketches, and book crafts. The version in Exode contains just the text narrative done up in charming design.

As of this writing Letter One and Letter Two are posted — with another dozen letters to follow weekly.

The gist: Letters From Russia offers hilosophical discourse on war and love written as letters from a cobbler with Napoleon’s army in Russia, to his fiance in Paris. The letters chronicle the logistics of the protagonists’ journey plus observations about all manner of conundrums related to international trade, diplomacy, physiology of war, and individual liberty versus requirements of society.

Plenty of more background including prezo videos, downloadable .pdfs and interviews are scattered amidst this journal for your perusal, including:

Letters from Russia Recap from Northern Voice 09

Letters from Russia preso video from Northern Voice

Letters from Russia on Santa Cruz Free Radio

Background notes on Letters from Russia

Letters from Russia related images on Flickr

Letters from Russia on WriteNow on Santa Cruz Freak Radio

Northern Voice 2009 Dave Olson Letters from Russia (miss 604)

Let it Rain ~ “Flying High” boardgame-inspired art & interview in DIY Zine

Flying High by Dave Olson – as appeared in RainZine #4

Amongst my recent trips, interviews and publications came a very special treat – a pull-out insert and stream of consciousness interview in RainZine. As a lover of deliberate, tactile arts and crafts and compelling content, RainZine – produced by Carla Bergman and Anita Olson – is an ideal manifestation with photos artfully placed in with black corners, paper matched with content like wine and cheese, even hand-pasted-in CDs for bonus bits which the atoms can’t carry.

In The Resistance Issue! Number 4, I worked with Carla and Anita to create a pullout insert called Flying High – a boardgame-inspired personal art history i glued up from stacks of source materials – each square has a story. They photographed and distributed as a pull out piece along with the interview by Ms. Olson pasted below. The finished piece feels like an old-timey broadsheet which poets, folk singers and activists would share throughout the countryside in olden days – i feel part of that lineage.

The tome, alas, has switched to permanent hiatus mode after 4 splendid issues but no worries, these passionate creators are up to all sorts of other endeavours. In particular, Carla ringleads (is this the correct word?) The Purple Thistle – a program and facility for young artists which needs a spiel of its own to recount the perfect afternoon i enjoyed teaching a group of remarkable youths about podcasting (audio and video to come at some distant point on the horizon).

View from my Seat by Bev Davies (at Northern Voice 2009)

analoggirlheartsyellowpaper

After first meeting Carla and Anita during the “Phone for Fearless” campaign via Raincity Studios, they hopped on board my jalopy train of story and spiels at Northern Voice 09 where they caught my Letters from Russia and Rock N Roll Photography gigs.

We quickly realized all share a love of scissors, glue, tea and laughter as key ingredients to making art. I proudly wear my Rain pin on my coat and am often blamed for heralding precipitation but rather i am an advocate for radical art in nature.

Rain also published a dossier about Letters from Russia in issue 3 where i shared pages with my good pals photographer Kris Krug and painter/designer Jer Crowle. This time the issue is stocked with skill includes poems from C.R. Avery, a mixed media singer/beatboxer/writer who played the release party evoking memories of Tom Waits.

So in tribute and thanks to RainZine, here’s the interview with Anita which i’ll always remember at Arbutus Coffee shop (after forgetting where i’d really booked the meeting), afterwork on a blustery autumn night with warm beverages and a cassette recorder – truly thanks Carla and Anita for bringing the Rain down on me.

three iterations of a dossier
Letters from Russia dossier for RainZine in 3 iterations

Who is this Dave Olson Guy anyway?
by Anita Olson from RainZine Issue #4

Last fall I had the pleasure of chatting with this Dave O guy and was reminded of a sociology paper I wrote about how the Internet fosters multiple selves (not to be confused with multiple personalities, of course). The basic idea is that the self is not a singular but rather made up of a compilation. Sherry Turkle, a big smarty pants at MIT, wrote a book called Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, discussing how “the Internet has become a significant social laboratory for experimenting with the constructions and reconstructions of self that characterize postmodern life. In its virtual reality, we self-fashion and self-create.”[place number 1 here for footnote] In other words, the computer helps us see the multiple selves we posses and can help foster their development. Sitting with Dave O was like sitting with a Turkle case study.

Dave O is an artist, writer, poet, painter, drawer, collager, podcaster, speaker, hockey fan, tree hugger, pot advocate, hiker, documentarian, blogger, storyteller, office worker, daddy, husband, activist, teacher, do-gooder, and sauna sitter but I reckon that there is probably more in him that I missed. Many know him as the infamous Uncle Weed or simply as Dave O…and of course there’s Dave Olson.

Using the Internet, Dave has created different personas each capturing a certain audience. Whether it’s talking bud with Uncle Weed, rattling hockey stats as Dave O, or reading literary essays by Dave Olson, he has a lot of virtual ground covered. But having an audience is only half the tale; Dave would like “a paycheck to go with it.”

In the two or three hours spent with Dave so many stories flowed that I can only fit a tiny fraction of what was shared that evening. I hope to have highlighted Dave as the artist he truly is. Who better but to have Dave’s own words to describe his artistic process, a new project and how he perceives himself as an artist. The following is an excerpt from an autumn chat between RAIN and Dave O.

What he’s recently been up to…

DAVE O

[I’ve been working on] some recordings I made in 2006 while visiting the Clayquot Sound area. I was at the blockades in 1993 near Tofino. I was a young 20 something year-old and I stood on the blockade lines and watched everyone get arrested…and out there on the blockade lines I learnt a lot of pivotal lessons, and it’s really what got me into hemp and alternative fibers and peaceful activities and bringing people together rather than squabbling. I realized out on the blockade lines, the environmental advocates and the loggers both wanted the same thing. They both wanted the trees, they just wanted them for different reasons. These guys wanted them for jobs so they could buy TVs and RVs and those guys wanted them so they could feel good about breathing air. But we need to find a solution so we can all just get along.

So, over the intervening years I hear all this news that it had been turned into a UNESCO world heritage site and I was like, “we won and we changed the world”. So I pack up the family (in ’06) and it’s going to be great, it’s going to be like eco heaven. But when we got out there it was industrial tourism. Fucking RVs, provocatively named resorts, swimming pools and Jacuzzis everywhere. While we were there, the city of Tofino ran out of water and they packed up and stopped commercial usage. All the hotels had to pack up all the people and send them home. And I just happened to be there. And because I’m the kind of guy that takes a bag full of books with me on vacation and paints, I just used this as a sort of a catalyst to make a huge amount of paintings and my little recordings. The water outage and my whole tension about the area gave a spark to the whole thing. I brought all these files home and I totally stressed myself out on this vacation because I wanted to document all this injustice of the world and then I misplaced the files. [They were] missing for quite some time….on another computer on another thing…anyway I finally found the files and thought, this is what I gotta do; I gotta find how to make these into something.

So over the last month I’ve made them into a nine-part podcast series called “Rain Forest Dispatches.” It’s a combination of me reading essays, me kind of running on spiels, my own personal frustrations with things, then flashing back to the blockades, and then visiting the friends of Clayquot Sound Organization and having some interviewee conversations. I was wondering what to do with them…it’s hard editing your own audio. For one, you sound like a chipmunk and two, it’s like, “shut up, we get it dude”. I needed something to break it up and stretch it out and the stories were all told out of sequence too. It was totally non-linear but then I started to put together a few bits and pieces of music. A young lady named Becks from Vancouver Island made a song called “Lonesome Traveler” and it was…perfect. I made a little introduction with seaplanes and sounds of waves lapping against the shore. And then I found this guy William Whitmore Elliot. It sounds like he’s an old 75 year old man from the delta but he’s this nice young college boy from Iowa, sings these great blues songs. And our pal Geoff Berner in “Light enough to Travel” where he sings about smashing the windows of logging companies just to get a little release and these pieces just came together. Labour Day weekend I locked myself in my studio and just edited audio and I started releasing them. I’ve got five of them out now.

How he describes himself and what he does…

DAVE O

I make mixed media story packs…I’m a story maker rather than a storyteller. To describe what I do, it’s not really performance art and its not really spoken word and it’s certainly not slam poetry. It’s more like I sit around a campfire with a very focused conversation about things because everything I do is very, very deliberate…and my presentations, in order to make it look like I’m making it all up, take a tremendous amount of work.

I’ve made a deliberate point of knowing how to write in every style. Everything from press releases, expository and free prose, and that is what keeps me employed.

I’m a private man and separate my family and day job from the Internet. I only share bits of myself that other people may find compelling in one way or another.

I like sharing stuff…I just don’t like organizing it to share it.

But Dave’s work is organized in the virtual world. He has a wicked website, www.uncleweed.net where there are links to numerous podcasts, blogs, poetry, essays, pictures, films, paintings, a resume and more…a virtual adventure well worth diving into!

*On the front of this lovely little insert is a bit of a timeline Dave whipped up for RAIN titled “Flying High.” It displays his eclectic style and the thoughtful intention he pours in all of his work. Sharing parts of himself, from a scrawny kid, where he’s lived and traveled, paintings, writings and up to what he’s currently been doing covers this aesthetically pleasing and informative piece.

1 Life on the Screen. Simon & Schuster. New York: 1995

##

Letters from Russia preso video from Northern Voice

Letters from Russia preso video from Northern Voice

25 Hour Day: Letters from Russia

25 Hour Day: Letters from Russia

Letters from Russia preso – video from Northern Voice 2009

NV09 Letters from Russia from Singular Software on Vimeo.

Bruce Sharpe (who co-created an essential bit of software for audio production called Levelator and is an all around nice guy) shepherded a project to crowd-source and prepare quality video of Northern Voice 09 including Letters from Russia.

For more about the spiel and project – plus comments, tweets, blog posts etc. from the talk – visit: Letters from Russia Recap from Northern Voice 09

Here’s Bruce’s intro the Letters from Russia post at 25 Hour Day:

Dave Olson talks about the sources of inspiration, the creative process and publishing your work in this lively mixed-media presentation. Watch this and you’ll understand why Dave has been dubbed a “local cultural artifact”. From Northern Voice 2009. Note: Contains adult language.

And from @brucesharpe on Twitter:

Uncle Weed is in fine form as he illuminates the creative process behind Letters from Russia. From #northernvoice09

He and others – including my buddy Dale – made sure to mic up the presenters and set up a good angle for the shots. As the guy on the other end of the lens, i truly appreciate their work to provide a cool artifact from the preso (although i must admit my shock at seeing my decreasing hair follicles!) – my Mom will likely enjoy it as well ;-).

Letters from Russia Recap – Northern Voice, 2009

Letters from Russia in action by Retrocactus on Flickr

Overview

Here’s everything to do with my presentation of Letters from Russia at Northern Voice 2009 – a volunteer run social media conference in year #5 and Canada’s biggest shindig of its ilk.

Letters from Russia page
Page from Letters from Russia book

I am in year 4 of presenting my mixed media messages to a diverse and enthused audience. Previous years included Fuck Stats, Make Art; 3 Ps of Podcasting; and Blogging your Passion. This year i also participated in a panel “Social Media and the Olympics: Then and Now” and moderated “Rock n’ Roll Photo” panel.

Video

“Dave Olson talks about the sources of inspiration, the creative process and publishing your work in this lively mixed-media presentation. Watch this and you’ll understand why Dave has been dubbed a “local cultural artifact”. From Northern Voice 2009. Note: Contains adult language.”

Shot, edited and posted by Bruce Sharpe, Singular Software, 25 Hour Day, etc..

Slides

Gist

“Whether blog article, photo, video, podcast – social media should tell a story. The best stories are retold and shared with others, and the very best stories create conversations which might live on for generations.

Letters from Russia by PeterOA on Flickr

How does a content creator elevate their work from craft to art? The same creative parameters apply whether the delivery method is digital or analog or both. When applied with vigour, the work elevates to something beyond an ephemeral musing.

Using a mixed-media project called “Letters from Russia” as a example, Dave will discuss practical tactics for harnessing inspiration, plotting the big picture, grinding out the “real work”, and finally creating a satisfying tangible artifact.

Dave will discuss the role of blogs, podcasts, reader interaction, RSS, and self-publishing with chapbooks and/or on-demand web services as efficient methods of sharing and distributing the project to an audience.”

Resources

  1. Build your own copy of Letters from Russia
  2. Presentation slides for Letters from Russia
  3. Presentation notes for Letters from Russia
  4. Flickr set of the Letters from Russia art – grab em hi-res for your remix
  5. Letters fromRussia with illustrations in .pdf – Print it, sew it, make you own
  6. Letters from Russia without illustrations in .pdf or plain text at the Mountain Highway writer’s notebook blog
  7. Spoken word literature podcast Postcards from Gravelly Beach Postcards from Gravellybeach blog or subscribe via iTunes: http://bit.ly/19Cbiz
  8. Audio from Letters from Russia on Santa Cruz Free Radio

 Reviews, Comments, etc.

John Lyotier from 5 Things I learned about Blogging, Twitter, Social Media, and Myself at Northern Voice 2009:

Dave Olsen (www.UncleWeed.com) – I attended this unconference session by accident sort of. I was chatting with some of the attendees after the conclusion of Chris Heuer’s “Death of Advertising” talk [ed. note: meh… ], and then in walked this odd looking chap: floral shirt, a tickle trunk, smokey-grey fedora, and a smile that said that he knew the next 30 minutes was going to be fun. I asked those next to me what this session was about. They said, “wait and see”, and I am glad I did. Dave gave one of the more enjoyable presentations (”Letters from Russia”) that I have seen in a long time. Summarize it? I don’t think I can, and even if I tried, it wouldn’t do it justice.

Miss 604’s live blog: Northern Voice 2009 Dave Olson Letters from Russia

Today he was talking about the process from idea to publication while sharing his personal journey surrounding his Letters from Russia series. I wasn’t live blogging his session as I wanted to pay attention and focus on his message, delivered as he stood before a packed while sporting a smoking jacket.

I did however jot down some of his quotes on Twitter and John Biehler snapped some photos so I’ll share those now. (added link to retrocactus uncleweed tag on flickr)

Raul live blogged some bits and pieces at: Dave Olson at Northern Voice 2009 on “Letters to Russia”

11:32
Dave ended up at this place (I can’t really liveblog with the richness that Dave speaks). So you got to remember – the best part of DaveO’s talks is just listening to him. He is superb.
11:34
DaveO is now reading – It doesn’t make sense for me to really liveblog because you won’t get Dave’s richness. Hopefully people will put up video.
11:41
If you have all the time in the world to do everything, what are you going to do, wake up every time in the morning, getting a lot of creative work done?

Spieling Letters from Russia at Northern Voice by Tim Bray
Spieling Letters from Russia at Northern Voice by Tim Bray

Mini Updates

macfarbt: @uncleweed thanks for the sharing and goodness @ northernvoice09. I want to find a way to mash up Letters From Russia with the Nepalese.

retrocactus: @uncleweed you should make that a pre-req for those attending your next talk: craft & bring your own version of Letters from Russia

madmannequin: Lunchtime at #northernvoice09 so far really enjoyed “death of advertising” & “letters from Russia” speakers. Looking forward to the rest!

michaelallison: Great session on the creative process with @uncleweed “Letters from Russia” …that’s presentation session. #northernvoice09

sprice: such a refreshing presentation by @uncleweed at #northernvoice09. letters from russia

jennmae: Watching @uncleweed‘s letters from Russia presentation IMO he’s the best speaker I’ve seen #northernvoice09 http://twitpic.com/1lbe9

stephen_rees: #northernvoice09 Dave Olson – Letters from Russia – laughing too hard to type

seray: Letters from Russia at #northernvoice09. Starting off in Belize, must be good, I want to go to both places!

kel_roberts: Dave Olson up next “letters from Russia”, always good presentations from Dave #northervoice09

theunabonger: Flickr feed shows me @uncleweed is sporting a fine Chapeau today at #northernvoice09 #nv09. Now to find pictures of @scales and rest of gang

retrocactus: @uncleweed holding court at #northernvoice09 http://www.flickr.com/photos/retrocactus/3295911074/

FierceKitty: @uncleweed I want to clone you and put you in my pocket. #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed said “What makes a work important is giving it an audience” #northernvoice09

formulaphoto: Love that uncleweed’s sessions are so consistently funny and inspiring – and refreshingly low-tech. #northernvoice09

sparklytosingle: @uncleweed‘s new GTD formula: 80% meditation, 10% execution, 10% inebriation #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed‘s session “If you snip the kite string will it soar higher? No it will tumble to the ground” #northernvoice09Miss604: @uncleweed says ideas need to ferment and brew like beer mmmm #northernvoice09

kateleg: @uncleweed is killing it at #northernvoice09 awesome story telling

FierceKitty: @uncleweed I want to marry your smoking jacket. #northernvoice09

FierceKitty: Swooning over the excellence of @uncleweed And @rainzine. I’m sucker for the analog. #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed said “I came across a ticket that was $420 to Belize. I was like ‘BUY’ … I wonder where Belize is?” #northernvoice09

inkbase: Full house for @uncleweed at @northernvoice09

GregEh: @owlex the only session advice I can give remotely is go to @uncleweed‘s talk #northernvoice09
moritherapy: really looking forward to @uncleweed‘s session here at #northernvoice09 – LOVE last year’s http://www.moritherapy.org/article/dave-olson-blogging-and-creativity/
Thanks – what’d i miss? Add in the comments SVP.

Northern Voice 2009, Miss 604 talks about Dave Olson’s Letters from Russia

Northern Voice 2009 Dave Olson Letters from Russia

Northern Voice 2009 Speaker Submission – Story of a Story (letters from russia)

Not to spoil any surprises but if i don’t post it here, i’ll misplace my notes and forget what i pitched to Northern Voice 2009 (awesome site by Alexa Booth too).

Pending acceptance, this will be my 4th year spieling forth to the assembled masses.

Year 1 – i pinch hit on a “Blogging your Passion” panel with awesome folks and impromptu banter and anecdotes

Year 2 – i was emergency replacement call up for “3 Ps of Podcasting” featuring my Bob Dylan-esque analog presentation

Year 3 – i was among the chosen and presented the secretive “F@ck Stats, Make Art” preso to the delight of most assembled

Year 4 – i’m hoping for a “creativity track” with Nancy White, Monique Trottier, Rachel Ashe and other artsy, craftsy types in a row – here’s my pitch and bio for 2009 (both awkwardly written in 3rd person):

Story of a Story (Letters from Russia)

Content – whether blog article, photo, video, podcast – should tell a story. The best stories are retold and shared with others, and the very best stories create conversations which might live on for generations.

How does a content creator elevate their work from craft to art? The same creative parameters apply whether the delivery method is digital or analog or both. When applied with vigour, the work elevates to something beyond an ephemeral musing.

Using a mixed-media project called “Letters from Russia” as a example, Dave will discuss practical tactics for harnessing inspiration, plotting the big picture, grinding out the “real work”, and finally creating a satisfying tangible artifact.

Dave will discuss the role of blogs, podcasts, reader interaction, RSS, and self-publishing with chapbooks and/or on-demand web services as efficient methods of sharing and distributing the project to an audience.

Presenter Bio

Poet, podcaster, pundit, and chronic documentarian, Dave Thorvald Olson particularly enjoys making arts and crafts and listening to vinyl albums while gazing at trees or soaking in a hot bath.

An ace marketer by day and renegade social media brewer by night, Dave gracefully nurtured, launched, sold, and/or jettisoned several internet companies. He now works for Raincity Studios (partially) revolutionizing the way media is created, consumed, and shared.

Published in numerous magazines, journals, and books, Dave is most proud of his handmade chapbooks, static montage art, and international audio hi-jinks. His co-conspirators frequently comment on his ability to recount stories after several micro-brews while inventing new lexicon and avoiding the bill.

Letters from Russia on Write Now show – Santa Cruz Free Radio

Countryside

Tune in to: Letters from Russia on Santa Cruz Free Radio (.mp3, 57:07, 26MB)

Blurb

DJ Snailmail and DJ Anon discuss Letters from Russia with writer Dave Thorvald Olson on the WriteNow! The Art & Action of Letterwriting show, Dec. 2007 on Santa Cruz Free Radio – Low-power unlicensed station – also streaming live.

Thanks to DJ Snailmail and Bread the Producer