Category Archives: Art Reviews

The story behind my first music video “Between the Earth and Sky”

On July 1st 2013, I released my very first music video for a song I wrote 2 years ago called “Between the Earth and Sky”. The song was written on my first trip visiting Toronto in 2011. I made the decision to go out east from a gut instinct. I was nearing the end of my 5 year university career and I really wanted to leave Vancouver and see if Toronto was the place for me. I had also heard about a hip hop festival called “Manifesto” where some of my favourite artists like Ian Kamau, Eternia, and Blu were supposed to perform at… It seemed like the perfect opportunity and so I sold my electric guitar and pulled my savings in to buy a plane ticket. I think now that me leaving the city had more to do about my own questions about myself than the festival.

I woke up the first morning I was there, found my friend’s nylon string guitar leaning against her bedroom wall, and I started plucking. The lyrics that came out reflected questions I had about my relationship with someone at the time … questions that had me wondering about where we were at, and whether or not our paths would cross again with every new decision we would make towards our individual freedoms. I wanted to be reassured in the unknown.

It’s funny how it’s been more than 2 years since I wrote this song and it really applies to where I’m at right now. Not only that, but it speaks to what the people in my life are going through now. Namely break-ups, breaks, or consequential shifts in intimate relationships … there is that overwhelming pile up of questions that fill you when you reach these crossroads. When we branch out into a new, different, separate path, there are no guarantees on this other side …and where that is, where you will end up… is the question of this song. And somehow taking rest and being reassured that everything is going to be alright is what I’m trying to sit with here.

How this song became THIS VIDEO is funny. I initially recorded the song on my mac’s Photobooth and released it on youtube on the same day. When I was back in Vancouver I was out with my friend Adam and he ended up playing this same song in his car. I was like, “what? you converted this into an MP3? Dope!” A few months later, I accidentally deleted my email account and lost all my youtube videos. Thankfully, my friend had saved the song!

The song lived on my ipod for a while since then until I decided I wanted to do something with it, release it to fresh ears. That eventually became a bigger project when I decided to experiment with pairing it with film. I added harmonies to it on Garageband and a few days later, my friend Joey Chaos filmed the majority of the scenes for it at Jericho beach. The sky scenes are me looking out an airplane’s window on my way to Winnipeg where a chunk of the video was also filmed this past May.

So that’s that, hella D.I.Y., no?  I’m happy with the final product cos it started from something that was just a personal little thing into a more public thing. I hope you will rest with me in believing that everything is going to be alright, whatever happens is for the best.



Check more of my creations out here:





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C&C and Some Smoking Kids


I was adventuring, (non-literally,) through the great interw3bz and stumbled, (also non-literally,) onto a great, wonderful, marvelous piece of work.

I love art, I make art (I think!) and I feel that more than half of the deal is appreciating the art of others. There is no creation without consumption. In fact, I try to loosely follow this law, that I’ve created for myself: THE LAW OF CONSUMPTION & CREATION. It sounds awesome, I get 10+ brownie points in the ‘intellectual!’ category, and best of all, I think it’s hugely, honestly, wonderfully true. Consume to create, create to give others something to consume, but never do more consuming than creating, and creating doesn’t work out at all without consuming.

So onto the inspirational, “Oh hey, look what I consumed!” bit:

I came across “Smoking Kids” by photographer Frieke Janssens and was completely blown away.

At first, I was hyper enthusiastic about the imagery. All of the kids were brilliantly dressed, there was a feeling of antiquity that came through the pictures via the lighting, dress and font… But then I started to think about how wrong this was. I mean, kids smoking? DUDE, YOU’RE SICK, GET OFF THE INTERNET. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY-

Then I was confused. I didn’t really understand what the works were trying to say.

I thought about it more and decided that this is probably precisely what Janssens wanted- some shock value. Over time, I learned to appreciate every single portrait. It was edgy. It had me feeling extremes of RAGE and WHAT THE HELL and OH GODS, I GET IT, I THINK, MAYBE, PERHAPS, KIND OF. That’s kind of the point!

After doing some research, I discovered a couple of things that helped clarify the artist’s purpose/methods:

  • Janssens was inspired to make this series of juvenile smokers after seeing a controversial YouTube video of an infant who smoked two packs a day. (Check my Indonesian homeboy here:
  • The cigarettes and smoke in the photos are actually chalk, sticks of cheese, candles and incense

Janssens said that she used children to direct the message towards the act and effects of smoking itself, regardless of audience. Seeing an ad with an adult smoker doesn’t have much of an impact because it’s something we see in our everyday lives.

I also appreciate the duality of the beauty of the way each child is dressed and how each picture is staged, and the ugliness of smoking itself. It shows different types of people and how they are their “personalities” are hugely amplified or even defined by the way they smoke.

One of the reasons why I think people are drawn to art is because of all that it can be. Something like this proves to be just as beautiful, complex and confusing as the human mind often is, and I think there is comfort to be had in this fact. It was after seeing just this one piece of work by Janssens that I made a mental note to one day aspire to make people go from COOL to WAIT WHAT to OH OKAY THAT’S PRETTY SWEET with just one set of work.

What do you aspire to do as an artist? Do you follow something like my law of C&C as well?

♥ Jen (@jenmartine_)

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5 Books That Have Changed the Way I Think

In one of my Culture and Conflict Resolution classes, we were asked to talk about how art and literature has affected our lives. I mentioned that I have a list of books that have changed the way I think. It turns out that my friends do as well—with Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts & Crosses” series being a prominent fixture on many of their lists. I’d never read or heard of the series, and I’m pretty jealous that they got to read something of that depth and actually gain something from it at such a young age. Hearing about their reading experiences has made me want to share some of mine. So, here is a part of my list: five books that have changed the way I think and some of the lessons that were drawn from them. They aren’t necessarily my favourite books—although some of them are—but after I finished reading them, I looked at the world in a different way than when I started.

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Following the Beat to Social Change


If you were in Montreal this past spring, chances are you’re familiar with the nightly “casseroles” that formed a faint metallic rhythm heard all over the city. These pot-banging protests brought thousands of Montrealers into the streets, kitchen utensils in hand, to express their opposition to the provincial government’s controversial Bill 78 that aimed to subdue the ongoing student protests over tuition hikes. Every 8:00pm, like clockwork, small groups would form on apartment balconies and street corners, transforming within the hour into droves of hundreds proceeding throughout the city.

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Class, Taste, and British Student TV

The television in the student accommodation, which I shared with five other students in Bradford last year, was not often the source of particularly thought-provoking fare. However, when the two art students in the flat wanted to watch In the Best Possible Taste, we were provided with a rare exception. In each episode of this three-part series, Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry explored taste—“why people buy the things they do and wear the things they wear, and what they are trying to say about themselves when they make those choices”—among representatives of a different British class. He visited his subject’s homes and participated in their social activities in an inquisitive yet empathetic and perceptive manner. He would then create two massive tapestries, which symbolised what he felt he had learned about his model’s taste, aspirations, and difficulties. The subjects of the episode are then invited into his gallery to view the tapestries. Each episode spawned long-lasting discussions in my flat; we even missed a good chunk of the second episode because we started yakking during a commercial break and didn’t stop. I don’t know if my art student flatmates would agree with me—I should probably ask them—but in my opinion, good art creates those kinds of discussions.

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