Disappointing Ultraviolet retrospective

The latest instalment of Ultraviolet features pieces from previous issues.
The latest instalment of Ultraviolet features pieces from previous issues.

Literary Review: Ultraviolet 10.2

For the most part, Ultraviolet Magazine provided an interesting and quality look at the talents of campus artists. But a lack of vision, printing quality and stringent submission guidelines have watered down their 10th anniversary edition.

Ultraviolet magazine is a student-run culture magazine, whose mandate is to feature the visual and literary artistic talents of the student body.   The Spring 2006 issue of Ultraviolet is a retrospective edition entitled Blast From the Past.  Its sleek white cover depicts a drawing of a time machine being plugged in by nondescript black figures.   Many familiar names adorn the table of contents, including Grace O’Connell and Ryan Quinn Flanagan. But what should be a great triumph for this campus mainstay is marred by a lack of vision and incoherency.   The focused theme of the cover art does not transfer to the contents of the magazine nor to its layout and thus fails to leave a sustained impact on the reader. The magazine is laid out in such a fashion that the contemporary pieces are loaded in the front, while the contributions from yesteryear are placed at the back.   This layout detracts from the retrospective idea; it does not provide contrast, nor does it promote reflection upon the ideas of past Queen’s students. Instead it segregates and staunchly imposes a division between the Queen’s of today vs. the Queen’s of the past—the biography section comes before the retrospection. An interspersing of pieces from the past ten years with the contributions from this year would have been a more effective retrospective.          

The content of the magazine is fairly sound but suffers in many cases from poor printing quality, especially with the photographs and paintings. Many artistic captures lose their emphasis and intended meaning due to the grainy, low-resolution printing and paper.  The lack of focus is also evident in the content. The pictures range from nature photography—up-close photos of flowers in bloom—to landscapes and photos of city streets, such as Ozel Annamanthadoo’s “Cobble.”   The more profound and interesting contributions include Alexandra Chowaniec’s “Watermark”—a painting of what appears to be the body of a naked woman—and Ashley Wilson-Vincer’s “Pot of Gold.”     

The prose and poetry is a hodge-podge of themes and styles.  The pieces are of passable quality but are often plagued by an indelible lack of depth or excessively maudlin writing.   Some pieces, such as those submitted by Flanagan, mistake obscurity and opaque ideas for depth.  In particular, Flanagan’s “Confessions of a Self-Made Misanthrope” lacks any degree of honesty or interest, instead filling these voids with naughty thoughts, pseudo-controversial imagery and muddled thoughts that provide no insight or interest.  Other pieces, such as Rakesh “Raki” Singh’s “A Picture Postcard,” are searching much too hard for poignancy and are wrought with childish imagery or overly topical references.   There are, however, a number of gems to be found in Blast from the Past.  O’Connell’s “Midas’ Wife” is an intriguing poem with great use of style and a mature insight.  Jordan Whitehouse’s “The Day Dylan Died” is a wonderful emulation of Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died.”  Much of the artistic power lies in the contributions from the past in the section entitled Over Our Shoulder.   A humorous look at the unfeeling, emotionally barren descriptions of love and sex in Victorian literature is provided by D.H. Almagest in “The Missing Exchange” from the Fall 2002 issue.   Diep Analich’s “No Offence,” from the Fall 2001 issue, is a conceptual piece about poor poetry, and  Paul Quick’s “Last Night I Went Downtown” from the Fall 1997 issue is a darkly funny look at artistry.

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