Photo courtesy of Paul HunterRethinking photography through a high-tech lens Kayleigh Platz February 3, 2016 Columns, Ecosystem, Tech About Town I grew up with darkrooms and art galleries. You actually felt the print when you made it. You watched the image appear. And then you could walk up to a piece of art and look at it as long —and as closely — as you liked. How times have changed. I now view most photos through a screen: a phone, a camera or a digital picture frame. I appreciate the clarity and detail that an amazing projector and screen can give to digital images. But sometimes our tech world of Instagram accounts and Facebook photo albums seems, well, cold and detached. Not so at last Friday’s FLASH showcase of contemporary photography, an event sponsored by Communitech at the Tannery Event Centre. Beamed large and brilliant through Christie Digital projectors, 50 photographs by 37 open-call photographers, along with those of three featured area artists, amused, disturbed and generated a lot of buzz among the sold-out crowd. Clearly people had no trouble connecting with the images. And then Camille Seaman stepped up to put it all into focus in her keynote talk. The award-winning photographer and TED fellow has used photography as a medium to highlight Earth’s changing climate. Her photos of the Arctic and Antarctica are awe-inspiring. Seeing them blown up, super-sized, gave me goosebumps. While her photos are stunning, it was her talk about her Native American heritage and her passion for photography that resonated with me for days after the event. Seaman is deeply rooted in her environment. When she was a child, her grandfather would make her sit outside for an hour a day to, not moving beyond the radius of her outstretched arms, to “talk with her ancestors.” This action served to remind her of her own connection to the greater world. This connection is still felt by Seaman, as represented in her art. “I approach the images of icebergs as portraits of individuals, much like family photos of my ancestors,” Seaman wrote in a post on LensCulture. “I seek a moment in their life in which they convey their unique personality, some connection to our own experience and a glimpse of their soul, which endures.” Seaman’s passion for photography was highlighted by the photos appearing behind her as she spoke. Technology helps her tell the story. For Seaman, she uses what she has — her photography — to reach out and make an impact: to connect with the past and discuss the present. “All of us are made of material of this planet, and all of us will return to it,” she said at FLASH. Watching her photos and videos of penguins, polar bears and rotating icebergs made me feel closer to nature than I had in a long time. If technology can help play a part in bringing me back down to earth, I’m OK with it. *** While we are lovers of technology at Communitech, we also are proponents of taking a break from the screen and doing something that doesn’t require passwords, keyboards or a Wi-Fi signal. I see and hear . . .Tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 3, head to THEMUSEUM (10 King St. W., Kitchener) for Beer + Screenprinting. Starting at 7 p.m., the evening mixes a pint from Block Three Brewing with a master class by Civilian Printing to teach you how to create a t-shirt masterpiece. The event costs $30, and tickets can be bought online . . . Stone Soup Too is this Saturday, Feb. 6 at THEMUSEUM (10 King. St. W., Kitchener). The fundraising evening will benefit Nutrition for Learning and the Immigration Partnership Council Fund for Syrian Newcomers (through The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation). The music-filled evening also features local art, good food and an auction. Tickets are $60 and the evening starts at 7:30 p.m. . . . Inspired to make something with your hands? Why don’t you Learn to Knit Sunday, Feb. 7, (12:30-2:30 p.m.) at the Timeless Bakery & Café (305 Northfield Dr. E., Waterloo) and have Cabin + Cove teach you the basics in a two-hour class. The $50 class includes instructions, yarn, needles and a pattern for you to knit your first scarf. Reserve your spot today on Etsy. Photo courtesy of Paul Hunter from FLASH Waterloo Region Facebook page.