Reaching

Reaching will focus on my fascination with structural rebar for ongoing condominium developments. OK, these structural features might be for other building that will have a different purpose, but does Toronto really ever build anything that’s not a condominium?

Form emulating future form.

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Common/Uncommon

Common/Uncommon springs from the work I’ve recently experimented with. I thought the current object I was making was the endgame, but it appears this and others are only steps in a process in determining a larger body of work.

I present the “Pineapple”.

0M6A3274In this piece, a 10 foot square blue tarp is cut into 5″ squares then these are pierced with a 12″ galvanized common nail. There may be more nonsensical work in a series of similar objects. I can see different colour tarps being employed in different cut out shapes to make a trio of similar objects.

The next step however in Common/Uncommon-came to be me in the middle of the night–will be to sculpt a house painting brush out of three colours of house painting masking tape.

 

 

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Construct (Build or Erect)

Construct (Build or erect) is an idea for a show. My last exhibition had the same name, but I had intended it to be pronounced differently and to refer to a different definition. Construct (Idea or Theory) was a series of photographs of photographs manipulated into different sculptural configurations. I was playing with the idea or theory of photography, a construct of photography. In this new work my intent is to create sculptures out of building material and either display them as they are or again use photography to document them. I will construct work.

Construct (Build or Erect) has been a long time in the making. I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility of re-purposing common material. I’m comfortable with building things having worked in the construction industry when I was younger and having constructed a home from the foundation to the shingles. I can lay block, make concrete and mortar, frame, shingle, and do electrical and plumbing work. I can manage my way around a workshop and worksite.

I first merged the idea of construction and art in a project I did in 2010 for Nuit Blanche here in Toronto.For “The Task” I moved concrete blocks from one location to another and back again over a 12 hour period. 18 tons of block. It was extremely personally rewarding and referenced labour and making–as well as conceptualist, durational, performance and sculptural art.

The first recent attempt at a piece for Construct answered a lot of questions and gave me a lot of ideas. Below is a running account of the work from inspiration to execution. The next step is yet to be determined.

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Wander January 2017

January 2017 and I’ve started to wander again. It’s been too long but life sort of gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I haven’t had time,  I just haven’t been motivated.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and that means exploring the city slowly on foot and letting stuff just sort of happen.

I’ve also started to remove myself from social media. Its just counter productive for me. I’ll start to write about the things here on my website. I use to do that religiously and I miss it. If you need any info or have any questions about anything please contact me at info@chrisshepherd.net

The following were taken over a period of three days as 2017 was ushered in. Each day I wandered for a few hours with no distinct destination planned.

Below is the back of the U of T Medical Sciences Building. You can access the spot via a modest little driveway called Discovery Lane. I’m not sure if you still call this style of architecture Brutalist because it’s embellished with these vertical aesthetic elements, but it looks interesting. It’s an eight story structure and all the deeper vertical members on the left hand side of the frame hide the windows on this south facing wall—at least from this angle. I’ve done a bit of post production tilt-shift to make the image work better for me using the Photoshop Lens Correction tool.

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I’ve taken pictures of the Toronto Spiritualists Temple on College around the Mod Club for years, but never with any success or never that ever resonated with me. It’s a very modest little church like building. In truth it’s more like a cottage with a few coloured windows. This frame shows a section of the front window unit and I’m pretty sure that’s just coloured glass, or even just plastic-coated glass you’re looking at. The building must be over 50 years old. It has a distinctly 50-60s feel to it. I like the rectangles within a rectangle thing in this shot, and the border that’s created by the white window frames.

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These next two images were taken close to home, adjacent to The West Toronto Rail Path. Both were shot through the clear acrylic fences that stop people from crossing the train track areas. This is probably a good thing because the corridor is very busy now with the Go, Via and UP trains all passing through at regular intervals.

The community had wanted green-living walls to be built to separate us from tracks and noise, but the powers–that–be thought these were the best solution. They sold us acrylic barriers and assured us they were graffiti proof. They must have tested them with water colour paints because they are now favourite targets for middle class taggers. Their paint has no problem permanently adhering to the acrylic. We can live with the tags no matter how lame they are but the real sad reality is the cleaning contractor uses a cheap-ass-toxic solvent to remove the tags and it doesn’t work and ends up creating the mess you see below. The smudgy parts are where tags have been melted off with some bargain basement solvent.

Looks sort of cool on a cold grey winter’s day. These two images are no-filter, colour photographs.

We love this neighbourhood, although the 10 years of construction is a bit tiresome.
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Small note on the Wander process. I use a Canon 5Ds with a 55 mm Sigma Art lens. I shoot on aperture priority with an ISO of 200. I rarely change lenses, but when I do I have one other and that’s a Canon L series 17-35mm.

I’ve taken photographs of this Hydro Building Roof Access Ladder at Ossington and Dupont on a previous wander. On this occasion I simply positioned myself to capture the opposite angle. I was also a lot closer. I’m not sure why but these ladders are the same on almost all hydro buildings but I like them, I love the circular handles and how they stand out against the sky.

0m6a2781These pipes are across the street from G&H Furniture on Dupont. I have trouble taking pictures when I’m looking up or down. I’d rather be straight on. This is beyond my comfort zone, but the central straight vertical line is helping me to accept it.0m6a2777This is a weird little still life inside a weirder still display of another window. Located along the east side of the block the once was Honest Ed’s. Seriously—when is the last time you used the yellow pages? This forgotten gem must have been stuck in this space a long time ago. Although it’s rather specific, I have shot forgotten yellow pages before. I think that’s because the city is so big and I wander so much.

Everything about this weird window is engaging to me. It’s also the one picture I took of the Honest Ed’s block the day after it closed for good to make way for condos. I couldn’t help thinking that although it seeing the past disappear is sometimes a drag the change will be good for the Annex. The whole area has been pretty ghetto for as long as I can remember. The sad part is that this means a lot of people will be displaced. Gentrification happens and some parts of it certainly suck. As a weird aside I think there may be less interesting stuff to see when I wander because of this. Gentrification and the sanitization that accompanies it is not necessarily engaging.
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I’ve always loved these huge memorials to U of T students, faculty and alumni that were killed in the world wars. I’m assuming these are the list of the war dead. The font is amazing and the craftsmanship is truly wonderful to behold. Whenever I see these I think I want to take graphite rubbings of them on some huge pieces of paper.

0m6a2693There’s a Salvation Army Shelter for Women in the Junction. It’s across from what once was McBride Cycle but is now the almost complete DK Condos on Dundas West. It always makes me think about the relationships between men and women, because I imagine that most of the reason for these women to end up here is that men fuck them up. Maybe that’s unfair, but as I get older I really do think that men are basically irresponsible children that never grow up and that a huge portion of them cause a lot of grief and anguish to others.

I took this because the scene was simple and reminded me very much of Thomas Demand. I really love that work and because of it I see “Found Demands” everyday. 0m6a2647Crane cables form the construction area beside our house. I’m terribly sick of this construction cycle that literally began with the remediation of the land about eight years ago. But I’m also aware that it’s quite a first world problem.
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Watching

Watching is an offshoot of work I’ve been producing for the last four years. Based on images from both the Colour Circles and Colour Squares experiments which in themselves are based on the Homage to the Square works of Josef Albers.

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In this short video I’ve taken photographs from Colour Squares and assembled them into a simple slide show with a black background and exported that slide show to video. I’ve then uploaded the video to an iPad and in a blackened room, played the video while watching it and holding very still. The process of me watching the video is re-recorded on my iPhone, or my Digital SLR.

I feel this has worked out well and it’s a strong enough base for a few future video works.

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Construct Bau-Xi Toronto

For information, questions or comments email Info@chrisshepherd.net

Construct at Toronto Bau-Xi Photo – October 15 – 29th, 2016. Artist talk October 15th at about 3:00. Official opening get-together 2:00 – 4:00 October 15th.

Bau-Xi Photo is at 324 Dundas Street West – directly across the street from the entrance to Frank at the AGO

The following are works in my October show at Bau-Xi Photo Gallery in Toronto

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Colour Circles Stripped and Formed, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Entrance Foyer) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

For this image I went back into my files and selected an alternate version of an earlier Colour Circles on Black, 2016 print. I printed this derivative in an 18” square and then sliced up that photo, like the process used for Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed. Here though the strips of photographic paper are curled using a pair of scissors, much like you curl Christmas ribbon for present wrapping. This worked wonderfully to create slim hoops of photographic paper. I then assembled these strips into ball. This combination of processes creates a very graphic photograph. This isn’t surprising to me. Although I’ve had a fine art education and I’ve been exposed to wide variety of contemporary art over the past 20 years, part of my practice is informed by graphic design. In particular, novel and record jackets with a healthy dose of architecture and furniture design thrown into the mix.

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Bowie Sky Cubed, 2016 – Edition of 7 (West Wall Closest to Street) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

All of the Bowie Sky images in the show were created from photographs shot to be printed and then specifically manipulated and reshot. The Bowie thing just happened.

I typically plan when I’m going to take pictures, and on this particular day I was on my way to a parking lot in the city to shoot the sky for this series. I needed a clear day and good, well-defined cloud cover. Before I set out  I discovered via Twitter that Bowie had died the night before.

I don’t look at these pieces as a tribute to Bowie. For me that seems a bit trite and contrived. The fact that Bowie died and that the sky was so beautiful the next day was just how things ended up.  These images have become a constant reminder for me of how I felt that weird morning and Bowie’s lasting impression. Of all the Bowie Sky images in this show, this specific piece was created first.

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Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 - Edition of 7 (West Wall Middle) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

This image uses an exhibited photograph from 2012 called Brush, Gardiner, as a starting point. Various size circles were cut out of the print using a variety of utility knife tools and then both the original desecrated print and the resultant circular pieces were re-shot.

More and more I find myself not fully understanding why I create or want to create something. After I’ve done it however I can usually go back to a work and understand where it came from, but the meaning is not always completely planned and executed. My process has become more spontaneous and it’s often not predicated on an elaborate or logical pre-determined or planned reasoning.

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Bowie Sky Stripped, 2016 - Edition of 7 (West Wall Beside Staircase) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

While making the cubed version of this sky series I imagined this one. The original photographs of clouds for these were all 18 x 18 inches. I have a new cutting board set-up and a large supply of Olfa utility knife blades. I also bought a very snazzy 48” ruler that has a steel insert along one edge, a rubber backing to hold the print down and stop it from moving around, and a substantial handle to lift my fingers away from the blade. These strips are all done freehand with that set up. The pieces are then piled and re-arranged so they don’t appear with the regularity that occurred in the original photograph. It was surprisingly touchy work to re-arrange the strips of paper and I had to be very careful not to overlap the strips too much. I found the composition worked better when the white Foamcore backing showed through in places, which helped to delineate each individual strip better.

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Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 started with a 12 inch square photograph of a red, cinder-block wall taken outside a local Toronto Coffee Time. I didn’t originally photograph this wall with the idea of folding it, but when looking back through a pile of images I had printed, I thought it would work well.

A few years ago I purchased a book that outlines basics of paper folding for design and architectural purposes. I dug that book out and experimented with the red brick wall photo.

This planned process has been rolling around in my brain for a few years but I never tried to execute anything. This image verified that my imagined or conceptual process could work. I had thought about manipulating photographic paper for years in this way. So much so, that when it came time to try it I almost knew it would work.

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Red Brick Wall Folded Verso, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

I felt this second version of Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 was necessary to explain the original. Here all I’ve done is taken the folded/dinted paper shape from the first image, flipped it over and shot it at another angle so that the white back of the paper is not visible. The effect makes it looks like a totally different shape.  I plan to expand and experiment more with this technique. These images represent the first time I’ve tried this despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. This is pretty standard with my practice. I think about something, I think about it more, and then usually forget it for a while. If it comes back to me, it’s usually clearer and makes more sense, which makes it more imperative to execute. 

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Huron After Sunset, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery Back Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

Every year for the past 7 or 8 years we vacation on Lake Huron. We rent my brother’s place and spend some insanely relaxed time away from the everyday city life that we also love. We’re very fortunate.

Sunsets on Lake Huron are famous the world over. Literally there’s an unsubstantiated claim that National Geographic called them out for being top 10 in the world. This photograph is a bit of a personal paradox. I love sunsets, but not for taking pictures of. Photography of sunsets has been so overdone by almost anyone who has ever held something that takes pictures. The sunset has become a cliché. It’s way better just to watch and absorb the other-worldliness of this crazy event. I really struggled with the decision to exhibit this image.  It’s just not what I do, or what I’m interested in.

In the end the rationale for including it was because it serves as a direct reference point for three other pieces in the show that that describe this image in different ways. The intention was to never show this image in conjunction with the other three, however I relented and hopefully I won’t regret the decision. There’s no need to describe this piece. It’s pretty clearly described in After Sunset Lake Huron Text

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Four Huron Horizons, Rolled, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Rear Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is similar to Four Huron After Sunset Prints Rolled, 2016 but unlike that piece, here, all 4 of these images are individual shots. They were all taken around the same time but are clearly not all the same image. I worked at first with weights and gravity to keep these items rolled in this configuration and I do have an image shot of that which totally betrays the process. I’m not interested in keeping secrets, but to make something a little more commercially viable I re-visited the process using tape to hold the images in place.

Four 12” prints taped onto white Foamcore and then re-shot. This is all about sculpture to me.

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Four Huron After Sunset Prints Rolled, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

I took four identical 12” x 12” prints of Huron After Sunset, 2016 and rolled them up for a bit. This created a camber to each print that then allowed me to stand them up on end. This is literally a photograph of 4 printed photographs.

Here the exercise is more about creating something very sculptural out of something 2 dimensional and then compressing that sculpture back down into the photographic 2-dimensional constraint. Maybe it’s about freedom and repression in a way, but I’ve only just thought about that. It wasn’t the plan.

I do use photography to contain my thoughts. When I think about photographing something it helps to limit the scope of an idea which ultimately allows them to become things. If I didn’t have the constraint of photography I’m not sure if I could handle the freedom of possibility that it inherent in that. I think I would probably just think of things all day that were impossible to execute and be happy with that.

Even within photography I’ve imposed and imaginary constraint on myself. My square format is always by choice, not by necessity.

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Huron After Sunset Text, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Behind Front Desk) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

Oddly enough this piece was the most involved of the show. It’s a work in constant progress for me. I’ve become increasingly more interested in how we imagine or how we picture, pictures.

I’m not a writer or a designer so this exercise involved a tough learning curve. I can’t honestly say I’m learning to write, but I am learning that I can revisit text a million times and keep adjusting it—hopefully improving it as I go. To me it seems almost impossible to imagine a point where I will be completely happy with what I write. It also seems unbelievably difficult.

The point of this text work is to describe the photograph After Sunset Lake Huron, 2016 in such a way that the reader could see my photograph. That this text would take the place of my photograph.

I also had to take a quick self-directed lesson in modern InDesign type setting.

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Huron After Sunset Braille, 2016 – Edition of 100 (Front Counter) 8.5 x 11 inch Braille Embossed Paper

This is the print Huron After Sunset Text, 2016 translated into Grade 2 or “contracted” Braille.

I worked for a while trying to convert images to Braille manually. I bought a number of Braille slates, a Braille sylus and a basic rule book for Grade 1 or “uncontracted” Braille. In a pinch and very slowly I could write in uncontracted Braille. Grade 1 Braille is relatively easy to write. Contacted Braille on the other hand is like shorthand that is then translated into dots, so very difficult to manage. Rather than try to learn contracted Braille, I opted to send my written text to a translation company that I’m pretty sure enters it into a translation program on a computer and then prints the Braille translation as you see in these 100 sheets.

This is a further obfuscation of the photograph. By making a visual thing un-readable to the visually accute I’ve made it intentionally inaccessible. By forcing a photograph into text that can only be understood by a Braille reader or visually impaired person, I’m thinking about how we open our communication to segments of society that are often marginalized by the mass.

This is a body of work I think that could easily keep me busy and interested for the rest of my life. Maybe not Braille in particular, but the idea of making representations of photographs that don’t involve images s very interesting to me.

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Parking, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Front Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

Parking, 2016 is an idea I’ve been working for a month or so. I’ve debated with myself if it fits into the “idea” for this show. It’s still about manipulating photographs, but it’s just not a physical manipulation. I’m pleased with it regardless, and I’ll print and include it.

The original shots for this piece were taken in the parking lot for an industrial complex in our neighbourhood. We’ve gone to a bunch of contemporary art exhibitions there and I’ve photographed aspects of the place several times over the last 15 years. Each of the squares in this image was a shot of the parking lot. In particular one specific square of the parking lot that had and interesting arrangements of lines, and that had been overpainted. I just shot it at different angles on different days.

The simplicity of this piece for me is its relationship to found art. Those lines you see are all in this place, and will be there until the parking lot gets painted again. They exist everyday as a mundane patchwork of colour on a bland off-black background but I found them fascinating. I can also go back and visit them and they’ll still be there for a while.

Taking these photographs and placing them in a grid in Photoshop became a simple exercise in personal aesthetics, and a weird desire for mathematical order under the guise of random placement.

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Parking Elements, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Front Gallery North Wall i.e. Behind Foyer Wall) – Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 24″ X 24″ also to be installed on a plinth as a pile of 3″ photographs.

This started as an actual grid of small prints printed as a large photograph, very much like the 48” square Parking, 2016 in the show, but I then took that large print and cut all the pieces out and piled them into this little sculpture. I love this piece as an object and as a representation of a photograph.

The other thing I really like about this is that I can re-shoot the pile with a myriad of different images that can be moved to the top of the stack, therefore making each print individual or 1 of 1.

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20 Perpetual Self Portrait Machines Stacked, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Back Storage Room West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

20 Perpetual Self Portrait Machines Stacked, 2016 is a departure from the rest of the show in that it’s not about the literal photograph like the other works. It is however still about photography in a more convoluted way.

I had these 20 little mirrors made for me by a glass and mirror company. I had them made to the proportions of the—now outdated—iPhone 6 Plus screen. The idea was to play with an antiquated appropriation of the selfie by making the iPhone into an old school mirror. It’s meant to be sort of funny but also slightly disturbing.

The original vision I had was to create a pile that looked like discarded phones that would reflect the image of the viewer back on them in 20 different “self-portraits”. I still have to fool around with this original idea, but I found the sculptural aspect of the pile to be very alluring.

These are simply piled on a piece of black Foamcore in the studio, arranged, and shot while another piece of black Foamcore is supported about the mirrors to make the reflected surface appear deep and dark. I plan to take this pile and move it into the outdoors, hoping that perhaps—on a particularly cloudy day—it would create a unique and aesthetically interesting piece or even film.

I have a lot of fooling around to do with this, but this work is the start.

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October Construct

Parking is an idea I’ve been working for a month or so. I’ve debated with myself if it fits into the idea for my October Bau-Xi Photo show. It’s still about manipulating photographs, but it’s just not a physical manipulation. I’m pleased with it regardless, and I’ll print and include it.

The original images for this piece were taken in the parking lot for an industrial complex in our neighbourhood. We’ve gone to a bunch of contemporary art exhibitions there and I’ve photographed aspects of the place several times over the last 15 years. Each of the squares in this image was a shot of the parking lot. In particular one specific square of the parking lot that had and interesting arrangements of lines, and that had been overpainted. I just shot it at different angles on different days.

The simplicity of this piece for me is it’s relationship to found art. Those lines you see are all in this place, and will be there until the parking lot gets painted again. They exist everyday as a mundane patchwork of colour on a bland off-black background but I found them fascinating. I can also go back and visit them and they’ll still be there for a while.

Taking these photographs and placing them in a grid became a simple exercise in personal aesthetics, and a weird desire for mathematical order under the guise of random placement.

0M6A0794Parking_48x48_FinalHuronWaves_Final_48x480M6A1326AFTER SUNSET, LAKE HURON
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Power Plant

Today I walked from home to the Power Plant taking pictures with the new camera. A nice two hour walk on a beautiful day. I was meeting Jill to see the current exhibition there which was incredible. Ulla von Brandenburg and Franz Erhard Walther are two German artists who’s work comfortably sits together in the same building. I wasn’t familiar with either artist, and now I look forward to researching and becoming more familiar with both their practices. Both multi-disciplinary artists working with colour, language, textiles, film and performance. Well worth the trip down to Queen’s Quay and running until the 5th of September.

Maybe I’m getting older or maybe the large institutions are getting better, but whatever the reason I feel I’ve seen a lot of good things lately. Stephen Andrews, Hurvin AndersonVilhelm Hammershøi were all standouts at the AGO. Similarly I really enjoyed Joy Walker at MKG127 and the current photography exhibition Counterpoints: Photography Through the Lens of Toronto Collections at The Art Museum at U of T is stupendous. It runs until the end of July so if you haven’t seen that you really should go.

On my walk I reshot an image I liked form a few weeks back. I just wanted to capture it more accurately and to do so I simply had to lower my point of view and decrease the depth of field. The original shot is slightly annoying to me. I think I’ve improved upon it here.IMG_0273Shortly after this reshoot I made my way down Lansdowne and just north of Queen spotted this bicycle rack. It’s super abstract and I liked the curving organic jumble of metal that appears to have no rhyme or reason. I can’t say I’m a fan of these type of bike racks but they’re definitely better than nothing.

IMG_0271Around the same part of Lansdowne is a fire station which looked like ti was getting the driveway redone. My guess is that it’s concrete newly poured and protected with these tarps to stop people from carving their initials in it, or maybe simply to protect the surface in case of rain while it dried.

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I also managed a nice photograph of Jill watching the Ulla Van Brandenburg film—It Has a Golden Red Sun and an Elderly Green Moon—at the Power Plant.

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Oh yeah, and the clouds in Toronto have been really amazing lately.

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Canon 5Ds

The new Canon 5DS behaves very much like the old camera. It just has a massive file size and a lot smoother shutter action. Both things though are immensely important to me for creating huge prints. It seems my minimum print size now is 36 inches square. The files from this 5DS can get me that large with a lot more clarity and a lot less resizing than the old 5D Mark II ever could. But the old camera certainly served me well.

The other nice thing about the camera is that I’m interested again. I’m starting to slowly see things I haven’t been seeing for a few years. Investing in the new camera has pushed me outdoors to explore and I’ve begun wandering endlessly. Sometimes I walk for hours and don’t get a single image worth keeping, but I’m exploring and that feels important.

The first two images below were taken in The Junction which is a ten minute walk from my immediate neighbourhood, The Junction Triangle. The first photograph is an interior shot through a window. This part of the Junction is west of the cool and gentrified area, c loser to Runnymede than High Park Avenue. There’s not a lot happening on this stretch of Dundas West close to little Malta. That’s echoed in the remains of the business shown here. The really pedestrian chairs smack of the 1990s while the improvised pegboard door and cheap handle are a handyman’s special.

The second shot is east of the popular Junction. This image is of a strange little amphitheatre adjacent to a school. Think slightly west of what is perhaps the most dangerous and confusing intersection of the city where Dundas West meets DuPont, Annette and Old Weston Road. The light filtering through the leaves was wonderful and the dappled burst of circles make me smile. In what is an otherwise depressing and forgotten little nook of overgrown and decrepit space this sunlight is positively beaming. I also think this image will look very wonderfully abstract when viewed from across a room.

0M6A0330 0M6A0290At the bottom end of the Toronto West Rail Path is a Toronto Employment and Social Services office. This is the entrance railing in the underground parking area that looks like it’s simply a staff lunch area now. I may retake this so the bottom of the semicircle of railing is lifted either above or below the horizon line in the background.

I think of type faces or fonts the more I look at this. There seems to be a shift to thinner lighter weight fonts lately in the design world and for some reason this railing reminds me of that change.0M6A0221Gas meters are always a fascination. I’ve loved these things since I was a kid and they still fascinate me to a degree. Likewise there’s a weird draw to plywood and construction in general. Probably a result of years of doing construction work. Many street photographers are intrigued by decay and abandonment, I’m more interested now in transition, rebirth and building. Perhaps that’s just a latent optimism.

This was taken on Yonge Street across from the Toronto reference Library where a block of century buildings is being gutted to create a new building on the edger of Yorkville. 0M6A0166 I can’t remember what this place was. How weird is that? The refurbishment has taken a  few years now and they’ve not made a tremendous amount of progress. For some reason in my head this was a hotel that was big in Film Festival patronage. But I could be wrong. I want to say the old Sheraton, but I’m completely unsure. 0M6A0009 This piece below is a bit more conceptual.

Over the past ten years the square has become ubiquitous in my work. Most of my output is created with a digital SLR. My camera’s frame and viewfinder ratio mimics an analog 35 mm format. The sensor and architecture of the device always produces a rectangular image in the ratio of 2:3. Somewhere in my process I became uncomfortable with this rectangular ratio and started to think and crop my work in a 1:1 ratio. The square. I’m obsessed with it’s simplicity and beauty. I love the confinement that shooting is square dictates. I’m comfortable with it. Everything I shoot now I think of in the square. All my initial shots are still done with a digital SLR and the files start off as rectangles, but for anything I print or share I always crop it to square. I’m uncomfortable and feel conflicted working in anything other than the square.

About five years ago I also began experimenting with made photographs. Until that point my process focused on walking and shooting what I saw as I explored. I still love that way of working and that is still a big part of what I do, but I wanted to work differently. I wanted variety so I started working ideas that were planned interventions. Set up photographs. These ideas focused on the camera as a tool and instead of exploiting found imagery I began to create the subject matter.

There’s a whole bunch more explanation coming in here… that will end with…

I have two 20 inch wooden panels that I bought to paint on. I’ve primed and sanded them down, all ready to create work but never had the nerve to wreck the wonderful blankness. I take these out into the area and shoot them in various situations. This panel was simply placed on a clay pile that will become the newest Junction Triangle housing estate. I think these places will start at about 700K and I’m sure they’ll be built out plaster board and shitty finishes and people will flock to buy them because they’re new.

It’s fascinating that there are basically 2 types of home buyers. Those who need something new and those who prefer something lived in. Are their people out there who don’t care if they live in a  new or an old place?

0M6A0036I’ve always taken photographs through the windows of empty or closed retail stores. The shot below is from a Driver’s Education place on Dundas West around Le Gallery. I found this very funny and the photograph works in a humorous way for me for several reasons.

Such a 70s image. The car is literally a Corvette from the 70s. My Brother in-law had an orange Corvette around this time. I remember it being fibreglass. I also remember my sister was so short that she couldn’t really see out the front window because the hood was so long and she got really nervous driving it. Obviously the hood was so long because it was housing that huge engine. I also remember that they sold this car, but before the actual sale, somebody came by their house and stole some of the chrome engine parts. So that story always make me smile.  but the other funny thing for me is the personification of stereotypical old-school social culture and the importance of sports cars. To me the sports car is all about 14-15 years old and men that never grew up and an entire industry that hopes these men never grow up and keep buying these weird penis-on-wheels type vehicles.

This also works because it’s a photograph of a photograph. It’s also a bad photograph meant to sell cars and as a “picture” it has little to no value. Especially now that’s it sat in the sun for 40 years and is completely colourless. I love these sort of photographs when used to promote a business. It’s particularly poignant to me when they are photographs in a window used to display either an actual photographers skill, or a hairstyle that might be particularly stylish. Both things just can’t be true. Any self respecting photographer would never display images that had faded to a mere shadow of their former selves. Also if it’s a photo in a salon, that salon is obviously going to provide you with stylish upgrades based on the fashion from 20 or 30 years ago. This makes me laugh. I’ve just decided that I can print this for my October Bau-Xi Toronto show. It fits with my general concept of showing this/photographs about photography.

Finally the rippling print in the frame is testimony to how many years it’s been hanging around. It must have been water damaged at one point and then dried all ripply.

To think this hangs on the wall as something that could relate to taking a drivers education course makes me smile as well.

0M6A9955So the biggest thing about my new camera is that is has motivated me to start long walking again. I’ve missed over the last few years. I never made a conscious decision to stop wandering and taking photographs, it just happened unfortunately. Those last two years have felt like they’ve been missing something. That something was walking. The photograph below was taken on the beginning of one of those long walks. Routinely these walks last 2 – 3 hours and I can travel around 10km at a time.

The image below is also after a much needed rain. This summer his past the halfway point and we’ve had very little rain. It’s super dry. We did get a bit lately and week or so ago I and as I ventured out I found this nice puddle beside the patio at the Farmhouse on Edwin at Dupont. I’ve been relatively obsessed withe power lines lately. In our neighbourhood, at this part of the Junction Triangle there are a lot of overhead power lines.

This is also reflecting—no pun really intended—on the penchant for contemporary artists to use a lot of mirrors lately. 0M6A9879

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Canon 5D Mark II

I’m selling my much loved EOS Canon 5D Mark II. I need a larger file size to create larger prints so it’s time to say goodbye. This is a Full Frame DSLR that I’ve used for the past 5 years and capable of producing gallery quality images up to 48″ x 48″.

EOS Canon 5D Mark II Body Only

  • excellent condition, currently my working camera body
  • 21.1 megapixels
  • full frame
  • 2 batteries
  • battery charger/USB transfer cable
  • original box and French instructions (English ones are online)
  • estimated shutter count 50K (can only be determined accurately when serviced)
  • detailed info/review here Canon 5D Mark II Review
  • $1100

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Long Walking

Long Walking finds things. I’m feeling good about starting to long walk again. It’s been too long since it seemed like my second nature. The trick to get back into it is to start smaller, with hour-long treks. It feels like I’m seeing things again slowly. This upcoming weekend the focus will be on a two-hour journey, hopefully in some new, strange neighbourhood I’ve never been too. This should help shake things up.

Over this first weekend in June my camera got out exploring a few times and the photograph below is a closer view of a staircase I shot last year. The frightening truth however is that I just looked that image up and it was actually taken two years ago. There’s a lost year in my head somewhere. That not too surprising. Despite this weird space mess up what matters is that I liked the original image from 2014. This one is even more pleasing to me. I’ve revisited the same place but I’ve changed and this new photograph seems different, more abstracted. It took a long time but I’m pleased with the abstraction achieved.

IMG_0583 Before the walk and the shot above, we met friends at a gallery opening at Angell Gallery for the Adam Lee show and while leaving noticed this cool patterning in the parking lot lines. I shot it then with my iPhone. In an effort to get a better quality shot I went back three times over the course of the weekend and finally captured this image which was taken after a thunderstorm in the early evening. I think I prefer the iPhone image slightly, but that’s just a shitty quality file that I can’t do too much with. The shot below makes me think I might have found a small series that I can continue. These could also be images that turn into paintings. IMG_0545I have a great photography supply place right around the corner from my house. FilmPlus has been good to me over the years. I’m pretty sure I bought a lens from these folks. I’ve bought a bunch of little stuff from them and rented a bit. It’s a no fuss, professional shop that deals predominantly with the many studios in the neighbourhood and rents almost anything. Last thing I rented was a Canon 5Ds. This shot is taken on a Sunday as I walked by the store front on my way from taking the parking lots lines above. I’m guessing this is some sort of large reflective diffuser for strobe flash of some sort. It’s huge at about 1 meter across and decidedly steampunk looking. I don’t do much artificial lighting so it’s a bit of a mystery to me.IMG_0560 Sometimes I’d like to be less geometric and get more organic.

Like many people I’ve always loved power lines but this is the first time I’ve shot them that feels like a potential print. Usually power lines just get in the way of what I’m shooting and these were doing the same thing until a slight switch in perspective made them the subject of the shot. Just before a thunderstorm hit while shooting the clouds for another project it became apparent that the camera could be lined up to make the power lines seems perfectly straight and become a somewhat painterly incursion into the background. This shot is a continuation of the vertical window blinds shots from a few years back. Again this feels like a bit of a man-made, found, hard-edged, abstract painting piece and again this is feeling like a potential series.
IMG_0572 The one below feels like a bit of a throw away, the colours and textures are interesting though. Taken under the very dark and depressing Keele Street rail bridge just above Dundas West. The iron work is quite stupendous though.IMG_0598All of this feels like a good start to the idea of longer walks. I’m getting back to the idea of being a flâneur and think maybe a new camera is in store as well. So if anyone is reading this and feels like taking the plunge into a used, full-frame DSLR I’m going to be selling my present Canon 5D Mark ii. I think I’ll offer it up at a good price. It’s been a pretty damn fine camera. It is however time for bigger file sizes to accommodate bigger prints so the 5DsR is on the horizon. I’m also looking forward to the idea of setting the 5Dsr  up to show square crops. I’m so tired of the 2:3 ratio of the typical SLR.

 

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Unfinished Painting Number One

This is an unfinished painting. I have two of them. I bought the 30″ inch square wooden panels with the intention of painting them, but the closest I’ve come to date is to prime and sand them. I like them as simple white wooden squares.

A few years ago I worked with some small squares of coloured paper mounted to foamcore that I produced and then insinuated into compositions in a variety of ways. The problem with that work is that I didn’t like that the panels were attached to the end of a stick. To make them float in space I had to Photoshop the stick out. On top of that those panels were created specifically to photograph in strange ways.

I was thinking about those panels and—like I do almost every waking minute of the day—I was also thinking about my inability to produce work. For several years it’s been a struggle to make anything, and even when I do I don’t have the same confidence or belief in myself or my ideas. These larger painting panels are a perfect example. I got them ready to paint, but to date haven’t managed to complete what I set out to do. This image below was born out of the doubt I’ve described but it’s hopeful and I like the inherent paradox.

There are a few other things happening here.

I have become more interested in producing art about art. I find this piece works in a bunch of ways that might not be completely apparent to the viewer.

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I took this panel and added a hanging wire and hardware to the back of it along with a simple ‘S” hook. I ventured out of the house on foot and walked a few blocks to this location. I attached the hook on the back of the frame to the frost fence in front of this building and shot it. One of the associations for this work is with “plein air” painting. It’s an old term that describes the type of painting where an artist takes their canvas out into wherever they plan to work and does it in on the spot, in the open air directly referencing the subject. I find this idea romantically old-fashioned. I also work with photography so it makes the process sort of pointless. Finally I’ve never tried it, and don’t think I’d be any good at it. This piece references art history because of it.

The building in the background of the painting is the future home of MOCCA The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. The obvious reference here is that the building in itself is an unfinished work. We really don’t know how good it will be, or if it ever makes it to completion—like my painting.

Unfinished Painting Number One is also about my art career and how I see it as being an unfinished work and one that might never happen. More accurately I should say that this career might never work out the way I imagined it might five years ago. To me this work is a bit of humour mixed in with a touch of disappointment. This might be the closest I get to having work associated with MOCCA in any way. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I can see this becoming a series of works with me carting the panel all over the city or possibly beyond to places where art galleries are being renovated or built. Maybe actually painting the panel or starting to paint the panel as I do so. I can also imagine painting the panel in such a way that the image on the surface  fills in the chunk of landscape that it obscures in the photograph above.

Despite the uncertainty associated with this piece, it has a ton of possibility and makes me feel very positive. Well maybe not VERY, but it makes me feel positive.

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Unfinished Painting Number Three

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Unfinished Painting Number Two

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Looking Closer

I haven’t taken the camera out in a very long time. More accurately I haven’t taken many photos with the camera in a very long time. Maybe I just needed a break, maybe I didn’t have much to say or maybe I just didn’t find anything that interesting. Whatever the reason it felt good on Saturday.

Sometimes I wonder if the walking is the thing that I need and it’s not so much about the taking photographs. It’s most likely both.

I feel like I’m looking closer at things now. Digging deeper into them and seeing things. I’ve always felt I was good at observation and possibly more sensitive to ideas that might be invisible to others. This feels like me honing that skill.
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Glitch Quilt

This is one file from the Glitch series used to make a four image square. That four image square is then layered out in a grid pattern. Inspired by Jill’s quilting and the workroom in general, this process is also influenced by aspects of the amazing Clive Holden’s work. I don’t fully comprehend everything he does, but I have loved and respected his work for over 15 years now and it’s certainly stuck in my head. He shows with Stephen Bulger in Toronto. This might end up becoming a 48″ x 48″ print.QuiltforIstagramTo get a better idea of how this might look printed look at this on your desktop and click the image to see a bigger version.

Here’s how I started this adventure… and then I decided less is more.

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Glitch

Glitch are pieces that were saved from a crashed hard drive. I seem to have a lot of these and find myself looking at them more and more. I love the random, error-driven arrangements and colour shifts.T3024x2024-11218A few years back I had a Lacie RAID drive for backup. It died a horrible death and so began the daunting task of having my files restored or at least recovered. The place I get work done on my Mac set to work and in a few weeks had recovered some data. The problem was that what they were able to recover was about 10,000 files and these had lost their names and folders.
So basically I had about 5 years of photography files that were all now just randomly numbered instead of named and they all sat in one folder. Finding stuff meant wandering through the data.

While wandering through, I realized that most of what had been recovered was multiple versions of the same file. Some were Tiff, some RAW and others were file types I’ve never heard of.
This was super depressing. Not only was all my work messed up, a lot of the files were damaged.

I continued taking new photographs and when I sold something older, I had to go into this drive and find it. It sounds horrible, but by this time I had resigned myself to the fact that shit happens, and frankly if I sell work it tends to be something I’m currently working on, and there’s very little backtracking required.  The other day when I was casually glancing back at my external drive setup where all these old files reside, I found myself looking at the error files again.

These are predominantly photographs of subways and a vacation about ten years ago that have been severely messed up. All I’ve done for the versions included in this post has been to crop the 2:3 ratio of each to a 1:1 square ratio. I find that’s the only orientation I like anymore. It’s been my production ratio now for about 7 years.T3024x2024-11567 I find it pretty cool that in the process of recovery for some reason each of these files has been mashed together with several other files and the colours have been messed with. It’s like they were lost for a while. IN the ether of electronic limbo, then they were found again  but that place where they had been had changed them. Reminds me of a very cool book series that I read recently The Southern Reach Trilogy.T3024x2024-11586Lately I’ve been reading a lot about success through failure. This is one of my biggest failures. I certainly learned to be more careful with my digital files, and now have a crazy 10 TB external drive and a traveling 1TB backup for all the final files I ever produce. I should be OK if there’s another failure, but this drive also has built in redundancy and tells me when one of it’s 4 component drives is about to fail. It’s worked very well for a while now.
T3024x2024-11611The thing about these images is that they are super random, and other than the original pictures and this new square crop have almost nothing to do with me other than this epiphany I’ve had in the lat week that these are worth something to me. They also fit very nicely in my developing interest of the image for the image sake, or photography about photography.T3024x2024-02503 So I’ll be going through this vast file full of files and looking for all the messed up images that were created.

It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, and it’s rather daunting to go through all the stuff, but the beauty of some of these images is clear. They also represent a recurring motif in the work I’m producing now which relates to the mythology of the Phoenix and the creatinon of something from the destruction of another thing. T3024x2024-02565 T3024x2024-06998 T3024x2024-06995 T3024x2024-02562

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