“the machine” Premieres!

fromTheMachinephotoJustinHallAfter a lengthy wait “the machine” – a film shot and edited at the Black Bag Media Collective studio in St. John’s – premiered last week at the 2nd annual TrixXxieFest. There was a lovely crowd in attendance including many members of the cast and crew. The film opened this year’s TrixXxieFest and was followed by a reception. Before the film is made available online it will enjoy a little trip around the world via the film festival circuit – stay tuned to theblackbags.com for news of upcoming screenings.

Set in a dystopian future St. John’s “the machine” is a ‘cyberpunk fairytale’  starring Melanie Caines and Liz Solo. “the machine” mixes up HD animation with machinima – shot on our group of online grids known as The Odyssey Simulators.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

Photo on the left and at the very bottom by Justin Hall. Photos from the screening by Rick Tizzard.

machinestillclownalley5Melanie Caines as The Clown.

TrixXxieFest 2016!

TrixxXFest10poster1webTrixXxiefest is Coming!! The Black Bag Media Collective are proud to co-produce this event every year with Roles 4 Women – this year happening June 24 and 25 at the Cox and Palmer Second Space at the LSPU Hall.

See the full schedule here: TrixXxieFest Schedule

TrixXxieFest is a pop-up Festival featuring short films, videos and performances to inspire, challenge and amuse you – powerful voices from around the world and here at home.

TrixXxieFest is a semi-annual traveling Festival created in 2014 by the punk rock band TrixXxie. TrixXxieFest highlights alternative voices by presenting thought-provoking media and performance work from around the world and here at home. This year’s festival is happening from Friday June 24th and Saturday June 25th, 2016 at The Cox and Palmer Second Space at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland. The weekend will be a jam-packed two days of live performances, installations, screenings, parties and a punk rock show.

This year’s event features an International program of film and video shorts highlighting experimental video, filmmaking, animation, and short documentary. Each evening will open with short monologue performances by some of Newfoundland’s most gifted storytellers – Wendi Smallwood, Ruth Lawrence, Monica Walsh, Jenny Naish and Liz Solo will present short pieces of original theatre. The performances will be followed by a screening of short films and animations from all over the world including pieces by local filmmakers Cara Lee Coleman and Corrine Coleman, Jenn Brown, Jacqueline Hynes, Taylor Stocks, Rock School for Girls, TrixXxie, Caroline Nochasak, Heather Angnatok, Jason Dicker, Jennifer Semigak, Joshua Jararuse, Matmatil Angnatok, Maxwell Saksagiak, Troy Maher, Nancy Nochasak, and Sarah Semigak Lidd.

Our International program of short films and videos includes award winning shorts and world premieres from Heather Freeman (USA), Sepideh Atashin (Iran), Lisa MacLean (Canada), Marina Bruno (USA), Guadalupe Yepes (Argentina), Abbie Birtles (Scotland), Yokiko Nishino (Japan), Zahra Jafari (Iran), Ana Santos (Portugal), Jeanette Buck (USA), Janina Putker (Germany), Sahra Hassan (Ireland), Jasia Kaulbach (England), Lida Sadeghi (Iran), Sonia Gerbeaud and Mathias Panafieu (France), Larissa Corriveau (Canada), Maria Manasterny (Germany), Arijana Lekić-Fridrih (Croatia), Jelena Zlatkovic Velickovic (Serbia), Sarah Ouazzani (France), Shira Moolten (USA), Francesca Silveri (England), Selma Nayebi (Iran), Snejana Herbst (Ireland), SaveMe Oh (The Netherlands).

TrixXxieFest is co-presented by TrixXxie, Roles 4 Women and The Black Bag Media Collective. Very special thanks to our sponsors Pi Gourmet Eatery and Charlottestreet.

Stay tuned here and to www.roles4women.com for details, schedules and updates.

BBMC at Hi-Dance with Odyssey and Senses Places

sensesplacespicfrom The Odyssey Simulator

Odyssey and the BBMC had the pleasure of hosting another event with Senses Places – Isabel Valverde and Senses Places at Hi-Dance Festival – Dance and Technology, Rome, Italy. Isabel performed live on stage with Odyssey artists/avatars. Avatars performed via large scale projections. Liz Solo and Mike Kean of The Black Bag Media Collective also participated via live web stream and webcam motion capture interface – Liz and Mike improvised with the collective and Mike premiered “Blued Mood”, a solo piece for bassist and avatars.

Here is some documentation of the event from the BBMC Studio perspective with live streamed footage of part of the performance by Francesca Fini.

Isabel Valverde and Senses Places – Mixed Reality Performance and Participatory Environment
Hi-Dance Festival – Dance and Technology – Rome, Italy, February 17, 2015
also at The Black Bag Media Collective Studio, St John’s Newfoundland
and The Odyssey Simulator
with Isabel Valverde, SaveMe Oh, Liz Solo, Francesca Fini, Mike Kean
Rita Paz/Zapa7ir, Isa Seppi/Janjii Rugani, Kikas Babenco, Todd Cochrane and others




The BBMC is stoked to be co-presenting the first annual TRIXXXIEFEST WEEKEND with Roles 4 Women Theatre Company and the band/performance group Trixxxie. Trixxxie have been working in the BBMC Studio all winter long and this event features their debut appearance. As you can see by the following amazing lineup TRIXXXIEFEST puts women’s voices front and centre in what is sure to be a super good time. Here’s a few details, stay tuned for announcements.

The First Annual
JUNE 12 – 15, 2014

Stand up Comedy/Music Night – Cocktail Hour – 9 PM
Featuring the comedy stylings of: Colleen Power, Liz Solo, Amanda Batten, Sweater Kittens
With Musical Guests: Sam Burke, Danielle Trouble, Erin Simms, Jenny Naish

Rock Show at Distortion – 10:30 PM

The Sauce
The River
Category VI

Rock Show at The Ship – 10:30 PM

DT & The Dinosaurs
Allie Duff & The Happy Campers

Pop-Up Event – Supper and Screening – 8 PM

hosted by Trixxxie
Stay tuned for announcement

All bar shows are $10 at the door


macgrid_004webThe Black Bag Media Collective are now working on macGRID.

Spear-headed by McMaster University the macGRID is a robust, archivable, Cyberscience and Art research platform (macGRID) and a corresponding network of academic, industry and community partners who wish to engage in interdisciplinary research and creation, resource and knowledge sharing, using simulation, avatar virtual worlds, and mixed reality systems. his initiative is led by Dr. David Harris Smith, Assistant Professor in Communication Studies & Multimedia at McMaster, and has been advanced by collaborators and contributors including new media artist Ian Murray, Humanities Media Computing, SHARCNET High Performance Computing, GRAND NCE, Dr. Eleni Stroulia and students at the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta, and Dr. Suzanne Crosta, Dean of Humanities and Dr. Mo Elbestawi, Vice President of Research at McMaster. Please see http://hmcwordpress.mcmaster.ca/macgrid/

BBMC are super excited to be a part of this project and we have access to multiple studios on the macGRID. We are are currently in the planning stages for brand new builds and programming. The appeal of the completely blank space is exhilarating. The transition from our working on the Odyssey Simulator in Second Life to this new, independent space on macGRID may take some time – but clearly an adventure awaits. Here is a shot of our empty studio island, from a distance.


a consideration by Frank Barry

– a consideration by Frank Barry

A futuristically primitive live/streaming performance presented by the BLACK BAG MEDIA COLLECTIVE headed by Liz Solo and Tina Pearson and including members of the BBMC, ethno-musicologists from Memorial University and other artists via SECOND LIFE and live stream from Germany, the USA and beyond — with Krista Vincent, Sarah Commerford, Chris Tonelli, Mehrenegar Rostami, Andreas Mueller, Mike Kean.

The other night I attended a strange performance. And by strange I mean original, interesting, moving – good. In a small room in the basement of the LSPU Hall a group of performers/artists/musicians had gathered to ask themselves a question. Their intention (I believe) was to perform both the question and the myriad answers (more questions) that the original question evoked. The question was this – What are our fears and dreams of the emerging digital technology?
The night’s performance was divided into five different pieces each connected to the other by their use and concern with digital media technology:

bbmctechnoNOT MARIO – a young woman (Sarah Commerford) sings operatic phrases via Skype on a large screen while being answered by live singers in the room.

This piece gave me a sudden jolt into my own past. Years ago I was present at a fado performance in an old tavern in the Barrio Alto in Lisbon Portugal. The singer, a local woman in her work clothes, stood at the bar with a glass of wine and sang in a voice of melting steel about a small bird (her love) that had flown away. The customers, regulars at the tavern, answered her song in the timeless tradition of human choruses since the dawn of music. They echoed her grief and the sad melancholy that can only be known by those who have felt the pain of a broken heart. In other words all of humanity.

Now here I was over thirty years later sitting in a room experiencing that same need and beauty of the whole communicating its humanity with the one. It was not in a seedy tavern nor did the singers wear the telling clothes of their singular trades. The soloist was on a screen removed far from the scene and the answerers were as diverse as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. But that same thrill was there. That sharing of our common voice. That yearning of the human soul to know that others have felt as it feels. That it is not alone.

ANSWERING MACHINES – here an artist in Germany (Andreas Mueller) sampled old messages left on found answering machines and played them via Skype video stream while two artists (Tina Pearson and Chris Tonelli) in the room re-interpreted the text live.

This piece evoked immediate and uneasy feelings in me about things that I had felt when leaving messages — some dire, some crapulous, many drunken, some angry, some pleading, all soul sick — on the answering machines of old girlfriends. I wondered if they might still be out there. That voice of my younger self, drunken, pleading, angry, sobbing, trapped in some sort of electronic amber but capable now of being rejuvenated and exposed via some new media, like the one I was witnessing. It made me feel uneasy that something that had faded (thankfully) from my mind could be lodged in some data cloud and distributed infinitely and universally. It raised not so much a fear, for love sick youth is well forgiven, but the thought that other things might remain as well. If I the atheist, am proven wrong, will St. Peter have a means/media with which to expose/broadcast aloud to the celestial jury/everybody else — all my guilty shit?


TENDER BUNDLE – a woman (Krista Vincent) performs tonal interference (live) on an oscilloscope exploring the feelings she had while unwrapping her old electronics equipment.

This was a haunting performance. There’s something about bending sound that always stretches my spinal cord. And once again the piece seemed to be about a memory and induced memory. The first time I heard a Jimi Hendrix record I was transfixed and transported simultaneously and this was before I knew that mind expanding drugs were available at the local mall from someone other than a licensed pharmacist. Once again I had the thought that here I was at a performance about modern digital technology and I was being transported backwards not forward. What was happening?


IN THIS FAR NOW –  Second Life avatars from around the world perform a piece accompanied by musicians and Liz Solo singing live in the room.

I have to say that I really don’t yet understand the central idea of avatar based performance. But I think I’m starting to get it by thinking about them as a sort of electronic puppeteering. I relate very well to puppets. I know – what modern human couldn’t? But I mean I relate to them as the puppeteer. I’ll often stick a sock on my hand and have a good old chaw with my woolly homunculus. A homunculus who agrees with everything I say because of course it’s me. And to my understanding the Second Life avatar must be a realization of some other artist’s own me but one that can now span the world. I still have problems with their templated looking design but that is definitely subjective. One thing did occur to me as Liz moved in proxy with the foreign avatars was that it would be a great way to learn a folk dance. The past again?

ONE THING INTO ANOTHER – in this piece found texts from various social media were woven together into a song performed by the artists and participants in the room.
This was a very moving piece that allowed us to share our common humanity using both text media and the human voice.

Somehow the whole night made you realize — no feel — that whatever these new things are they are tools made by us and that we are responsible for them. Another beautiful, and perhaps strange, thing about the night was that I felt that I was at the very beginning of something. That I felt something like that old ape had felt when he knocked a tree limb against a rock and all the other apes looked up. Do it again! Do it again! Make that sound. Tell us something.


I felt that I was not in a room of technology whiz kids but in a room where adults were asking valuable questions about the nature of a human creation that was changing our lives. To be in a room where people were asking valuable questions was original enough these days but to see them do it without the smugness of rhetoric but with a true need to ask the questions was as exciting a piece of honest theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

Some of this new technology has now been around for a long time in today’s terms. But what was new and original and exciting about the night was, in the end, the questions that arose from experiencing it, not alone in a room, but in a community that was asking, like Gauguin’s famous questions, which in fact were themselves a form of mixed media as they were painted as text on one of his paintings. Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? To which I will audaciously add – And who is bringing us there?
A night of questions. A night of memory. A night of future.

– Frank Barry, 2013
Barry is a writer, actor and director for theater and film. He currently lives and works in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
All photos on this page by Rhonda Pelley.

This essay was commissioned by the Black Bag Media Collective. The Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir was made possible thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts Section.

Flick Harrison and Catherine Falkner at the BBMC

The BBMC are preparing for their second Visiting Artist’s Residency, this time with Vancouver artists Flick Harrison and Catherine Falkner. Throughout the Residency both artists will be offering workshops. Here are the details:

Video-making Workshops with Flick Harrison (Vancouver)   Vancouver artist, filmmaker and rabble rouser Flick Harrison will be in St. John’s from August 28th until September 9th offering one-on-one and group workshops in video making and editing. In particular the workshops will focus on shooting/documenting/videomaking for live bands, and live arts and performance events.

Is one of your favourite bands playing this week and you would like to shoot the show?
Obsessed with documenting?
Got footage of a show/performance you shot last year that you would just love to finally edit? Or some old footage from yesteryear that needs to see the light of day?

Contact the Black Bag Media Collective to arrange to participate in one-on-one and group workshop sessions with Flick Harrison. No experience or pre-requisites necessary. Having your own camera and computer is a bonus but these things are not essential. Contact us here: theblackbags@yahoo.ca

Videos made during the process have the opportunity to be screened in different alternative venues over the weekend of September 7- 9 as well as be a part of a one time installation at the Black Bag Media Collective Studio.

Made possible through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts Section.
Brought to you by the Black Bag Media Collective.

About Flick Harrison
Flick Harrison is a self-made nobody, a renegade artist, an underpreneur, a premiere Vancouver poorfessional, and now a member of the Sunset Community artists-in-residence “Something Collective.” His film, theatre, video, acting, writing and camera work has been seen by millions, been nominated and won awards internationally, and slipped into, under and through almost every Canadian funding niche. Chretien’s chief strategist Warren Kinsella called Flick “offensive” and “unfair,” the Globe and Mail called him “hilarious,” and the Georgia Straight called his work “gorgeously sophisticated.” His work includes teaching media art to kids, engaging community through art, designing projections for theatre and dance, and international journalism and criticism.

Flick started as a videographer on the national CBC series Road Movies, and went on to work with 536 Arts Collective, Theatre Conspiracy, Dancers Dancing, Leaky Heaven Circus, Headlines Theatre, and Ballet British Columbia. He’s acted with the likes of Lucy Lawless and Edward James Olmos, studied under Noam Chomsky, beaten the Sundance parking laws, startled Brian Mulroney *and* Kim Campbell, interviewed Ed Asner to sleep, been poisoned by the Taliban, flown light aircraft, ridden boxcars on national television, dodged the border patrol in Mexico, held hands with Negativland, promoted David Orchard, fired rifles in the tribal zones of Pakistan, and shown in the Museum of the Moving image in New York.

He’s made video for Stephane Dion, R.E.M., Wreckless Eric, Battlestar Galactica, Amnesty International, Canned Hamm, Bruce Sweeney, Nettie Wild, Reg Harkema, David Vaisbord, James Dunnison, and many others.

See: http://www.flickharrison.com/

Rasa Box Workshop – with Catherine Falkner (Vancouver)
“rasa” – a Sanskrit word meaning “essence.” 
In this ensemble based workshop participants will be exposed to rasa boxes. Based on an ancient Sanskrit performance philosophy the rasa box workshop explores nine emotional states, or “essences”, and how they can be used in creating performance.
Through working with breath, sound and movement the rasa box techniques can lead to discovery of organic and truthful impulses to enhance performance work.
The workshop is designed to accommodate a range of skill levels and interests of professionals and students including actors, directors, performance artists, musicians, choreographers, playwrights, movement and dance teachers and/or therapists.

Where: The Masonic Temple
When: Sunday September 2nd from 2 to 6 PM
Cost: $20 (discount rates are available for those who need one, just ask)
Space is limited to 12 participants so please register by writing theblackbags@yahoo.ca
The workshop will start with a gentle warm-up followed by ensemble building exercises. This will lead to intensive work with the rasa boxes.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one.
Wear comfortable loose clothing that you can move in.
Please no perfumes or jewelry.
All welcome, no previous experience necessary.
Be ready to play and have fun!

About Catherine Falkner
Catherine Falkner thought her quirks would just go away, but instead they forced her into show business. Catherine is a Vancouver based multi-disciplined artist with a bent toward camp, clown and Absurdism. She has worked with filmmaker Flick Harrison on his guerrilla film shorts, The Blood of the Worker, Breaking the Law, The Artist at Work and the larger-scale production Victory Party.

She has also been working in performance art / burlesque (The Hot Toddy Girls), writing / producing finger-puppet shows (Mit Funf) and sketch comedy (as a founding member of Girl Parts.

In 2010 she went back to school and is earning her Theatre Degree in Performance at the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Recently Catherine has performed at the Vancouver International Comedy Festival, the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Presentation House North Vancouver and in the award-winning short film, “Petar the pig farmer.”

Still shot from the film The Victory Party, by Flick Harrison
Brought to you by the Black Bag Media Collective.