Like TCE? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Anna Beard
ARTS AND CULTURE EDITOR

A new photography exhibition is growing from the underbelly of Waterloo Region’s arts and culture ecosystem. The mind meld of some of our most prominent movers and shakers, FLASH WR is a “community-based initiative to celebrate the art and science of photography in Waterloo Region, through events, public displays, and visits from world-class practitioners.”

In a way, FLASH WR is much more than an attempt to uncover talent in the region – it’s an opportunity to celebrate the intersection between Waterloo Region’s thriving technology sector and it’s ever bubbling, yet ever hidden, arts and culture ecosystem.

The relationship between arts and tech isn’t limited to the fact that most people are carrying a camera in their pockets at all times and therefore have the capacity to take great photos at  any moment. It also extends to the way the images will be displayed at the event.

“We’re thrilled to be able to showcase top local and international photography through our technology, but FLASH is about more than that,” said Charles Fraresso, Christie’s senior manager of research and innovation in a press release circulated to media. “It’s a collaboration that combines art and technology to help us see, and celebrate, the world in new ways.”

In a fated chance, Fraresso was attending the same Christie Artist-inResidence showcase by Pascal Dufaux, as maker/photographer Darin White, photography aficionados Anthony Reinhart and Catherine Bischoff, CAFK+A executive director Gordon Hatt, and others. From there, the ongoing conversation surrounding art and tech exploded and the idea for FLASH WR came about.

“There are several components to FLASH,” explained Bischoff. “We have the crowd sourced, community engaged content, we’ve got three featured photographers and we’ve got this rock-star photographer in the form of photojournalist Barbara Davidson and I think having someone of that scale and notoriety at the event is amazing. Having her come and speak to us all about her career and photographic journey will add a great value to the event for all participants.”

“A cornerstone of FLASH is that people’s work should be compensated if it’s going to be shown. Because photography is so ubiquitous now, people just assume it’s not worth anything… so we’re going to pay everyone who has a photo shown because we believe good photography has value,” said Reinhart.

“It’s a real struggle for content creators to get paid. There’s so much talk about the arts and culture in terms of thriving economic development of the region,” said White. “Aside from its own intrinsic value, this whole economic development angle – we really need to kick some money into it and recognize content creation.”

The relationship between arts and technology is something that is slowly coming together but Reinhart explains that collaborations between the two sectors need to increase.

“I think what is unique here is the opportunities to collaborate. In a bigger centre where there is a lot more noise it’s harder to bring people together to form those relationships. The fact that we have a density of tech here and we have a facility like the Tannery, where the arts are on display all the time, and companies like Christie and Canon as residents in the building, the fact that all of these people are together allows for that collaboration. What we need now is more tech companies to step forward and recognize how they can help foster the arts community.”

“It’s a two way street here,” said White. “Although tech can provide some capital and equipment for the arts, the arts can provide some lateral thinking and product ideas. Give an artist a tool and they’ll likely use it in a way an engineer wouldn’t have considered. I think there’s some mutual benefit there. Thalmic Labs’ Myo is a brilliant example of how a product has evolved – from presentations to DJ’ing.”

FLASH WR released an open call to photographers of all levels of experience and will be showcasing photos from amateurs and professionals alike. The event takes place January 23 at the Tannery Event Centre in Kitchener and admission is $10. Attendees can register for the event via Eventbrite. More information available at flashwr.ca.