Vacancy 2

I’m working on the Vacancy photo series. Saturday was pretty successful for me. I got up at 5:30 and went exploring on the bike to St Clair Avenue. I found some stuff I liked so I’m calling this Vacancy 2. I’ll continue to shoot in batches and name them in sequence. I wonder if it’s just me and this series. It’s not very accesible.

I wasn’t inside most of these rooms. I simply take these shots through the glass of the front window or door. I have this complicated and awkward set up with an old tea towel that I have to wrap around the lens where it hits the glass. If I don’t do that I get a reflection of the lens barrel and parts of the street because of the sunlight and the typical construction of double pane glass. One day I’ll get a proper hood built that can attach to the lens and makes things efficient but this works for now.

I’d like to do more black work. A favourite from the work above is the piece that shows a set of partially obstructed windows surrounded by the darkness of the interior space. This uber-contrast is interesting me.

There’s also an image with a checkered floor. I’m a sucker for abandoned chairs in empty rooms, especially when they have checkered floors. I’m off again this first of June to find other forlorn strip of Toronto retail and some new Vacancy subjects. I imagine it will even be more deserted today. I might as well try Queen. It’s been a while since I shot down there. Usually when I venture to a place I haven’t been to for a while there are a ton of new Vacancies. I’m sure Queen street will be no different, however it’s more successful than St.Clair so there tend to be fewer empty places.

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These are a little darker feeling than I thought they would be. I like them, but I can see why someone might not. It’s an ancient space. I think of Cuba, or at least images I’ve seen of Cuba. A real sense of this place has seen better times. The ceiling looks tin and the back wall is a testament to how old the place is. Lathe and plaster construction was predominantly pre 1930s in Toronto after that plaster board came into widespread use.

I happened upon this on my way to work the other day. It’s on the lower portion of Pape just a few blocks above Bloor. Curiously the whole strip of retail and residential that is Pape has changed very, very little in the 15 years that I’ve frequented it. This is truly the land that gentrification forgot.

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I keep coming back to these images. I’ve just decided these will make up the new Bau-Xi Photo show. I’ll shoot over the next few months and hopefully have 15 to 20 solid images for a show. I’m thinking of getting up very early tomorrow and trying to catch a new Scotia Bank on Bloor around Ossington before it opens and is completely finished. the colour of the redish orange ATMs and the blank empty walls should look pretty spectacular.

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Cheek to Cheek

Select a portion of the cheek and take a macro photograph. Shoot a self portrait then shoot different people I know creating 20 or so images that show the individual pores of everyone’s skin, the hair/beard detail, skin tone and colour.

If displayed together these would be abstract portraits that should –if hung correctly– create a unified series of abstractions.

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The first real “walkabout” in 8 months. Not much to show for it but aching feet and proof that I’m obsessed with geometry. Although I do really love this image. It’s strange but I’ve been shooting this same “scene” for about 10 years. I think I finally captured why it interests me. Or I might be totally insane.

The following image is another reference to squares, but also a neat little homage to the student demonstrations in Quebec. I sat on the fence for the longest time about these demonstrations, now I’m fully on board. Education should be affordable, and governments should listen to the people that put them in power. To all the naysayers out there…just because we don’t have inexpensive post secondary education doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.

Finally orange. A nice added little reflection of a bicycle in a picture that really does show a lot of why I like this city.

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I shot this series of images at a small rural hospital in Seaforth, Ontario. I have a very nice relative who is a Dr. there and she was nice enough to get me access. I loved it and would really like to continue this series someday but I think getting into other hospitals is going to be mind-numbingly difficult. That’s my problem in general -getting access to photograph places. The subway was super hard to negotiate. It took me years. Schools were difficult as well. Hospitals will be very hard to get into. Sometimes I think I should just grow some balls and shoot without permission, but I find I’m uncomfortable doing that and when I’m uncomfortable I don’t shoot well.

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This is an older thought, but one that has stayed with me.

Arrange to meet people I know in secluded architecturally interesting locations at times when the possibility of other people being there is minimal. Arrive early and somehow setup the camera so that I’m not readily observable from the meeting place and wait. As my arranged meeting time approaches and passes take pictures. Continue taking pictures until the subject of interest gives up in exasperation and leaves. Maybe text the person along the way and take pictures as they read my texts.

The prime location might involve a clock. If the subject waits by the clock or some other time based measuring device the images will show the passage of time.

Voyeurism, disappointment, frustration, waiting.

June 1st 2012
Talk to, and enlist an ensemble cast of participants to work with me through a series of photography/film/performance pieces. One of these could be Late. Another would involve playing a weird soundtrack and recording their reactions. Still another could involve some sort of mystery created by graffiti or a scrap of paper.

June 2nd 2012
For one event get 4 or 8 maybe 12 people. Explain to 4 groups to meet at a predetermined location, maybe in the area at thenTD bank towers–tell them something is going to happen in the sky to the east, tell another group the west and so on. Photograph or film the ensuing observation and realization that other people are doing the same thing.

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I’ve loved this bank for about 10 years. I’ve taken pictures of it every so often for at least that period of time. I’ve also been drawn to banks in the past.

My compulsion started with an empty Bank of Montreal on Bay just above College. I was in a cab and went by this closed BOM at night. The fluorescent lights were all on and it looked other worldly. I went back the next day on the subway, or I may have taken my bicycle. The lights were still all on. The images from the series below are still favourites.


I continued the exploration with another closed BOM. This one at Rocesvalles and Dundas West. The image below was shot after it was bought by Starbucks. It’s still a Starbucks.

Closing banks seems a bit strange. Like any other business I imagine they study traffic and usage and close anything that’s not busy enough or profitable enough.

I imagine a time when there won’t be so many old people going into branches. When that happens I it makes sense that many spaces could be better utilized. I can see the industry closing more branches as the internet becomes more and more the destination for typical Canadians to do their finances.

I’m also fascinated by TD Canada Trust’s incursion into the U.S. market. I saw a great pic that William Huffman took in Massachusetts of a parking lot sporting Mass MOCA banners on lamposts and in the background there was a TD Canada Trust branch. i’m also remembering the last time I was in Manhattan. I saw more TDs than any other bank, with the possible exception of Chase Manhattan. Is the Canadian identity personified south of the border by banks? Are we now prouder of our banks than our hockey teams? I think we probably should be.

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