Ellis Sam: Blues: #0247fe

Other Colours Ellis Sam: Blues: #0247fe


Voice from episodes 1 & 2 of Oblique View video series

Originally, I shot this footage of Vancouver’s Chinatown for a sitcom about a resident of the Blue Sky building, a new luxury rental property in the neighbourhood. The resident is driven crazy by the neighbouring electrical station and in a state of delirium acquires a sound system from a merchant at Pigeon Park to drown out the endless electric hum. The sound system is vintage and so large that it will fit in neither a Car2go nor even an EVO. So the resident must also purchase a shopping cart and push the towering system through downtown. Once at home, he plugs his iPhone into the system to play some music that brings him momentary comfort. Yet he still doesn’t feel quite at home in his new bachelor pad. So he decides to head to a local bar to drown his sorrows. He unplugs his phone from the system and notices an electrical hum coming from the speakers. He unscrews the lid of the hi-fi and finds a panel of electrical components that is like a miniature of the power station. He looks out his window and wishes deeply to understand what has brought him to this place that he now calls home. He closes his eyes and reaches down to the amplifier, where he imagines himself beyond the barbed wire fence, standing in the middle of the power station. He feels a shock. He is shaken from head to toe. Yet for once he feels grounded. From that day on he embraces the current, soon seeking out others in his building who suffer from a similar state. Administering to them his brand of shock therapy whilst throwing parties on his humongous hi-fi. He dubs this group The Blue Sky Club and so begins a new cult in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

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Electric blue
I got an oblique view

Can you feel it too?
When you walk through this neighbourhood

Beyond the sights of lantern light
Could you believe in neon tonight?

So why be sad? Some say
It’s not the Chinese way

Stand below the blue sky
And the new buildings strung up high

So then the question is…
What kind of hue?

Fuck you

The Blue Eagle cafe used to sell drugs
The Blue Eagle cafe used to show my grandpa love

The blood still runs blue
In old wives
Who slow down
When passing through this small town
That was once out of bounds

Here the Art Deco still tries
To shape old lies
That cover up the power station’s high
Alongside new luxury rental suite lives

This is inscrutable change
Especially when the BBQ pork still tastes the same

I hate this colour now
I hear it buzzing loud

Even though the lantern’s LEDs
Will never make a sound
And the power station’s lines
Will soon be decommissioned into condo ground

Blue, blue, blue
Can you feel it too?

Other Colours

Other Colours was conceived in response to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s True Colours, a program that offers grants to incentivize homeowners to restore heritage homes to their ‘true’ Victorian, Edwardian and War Time era (1880–1930) colours, with paint swatches such as “Oxford Bluff” and “Edwardian Pewter”. Canada’s colonial history is a violent history that must be questioned, not ceremoniously replicated. The True Colours program has been deployed largely in support of the gentrification of inner city neighbourhoods, particularly those with a history of immigrant struggle where homes were painted colours that represented diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of the city. 221A led a Research Initiative with 10 contributors who were asked to provide a swatch for an “Other Colours palette” that would offer alternatives to the True Colours program based on the contributors’ lived experience, cultural traditions and artistic practices. Each Other Colours palette selection is detailed by the contributor with an original text or artwork. This collection of short prose, poetry and social history, printed by Brick Press as an Artist’s Book, offers a more pluralistic account of the city’s built environment and identity.