I came upon the idea for Constructions as I rode my bike to work and thought about an image I had taken on Monday of this week (previous post) . As soon as I arrived at work and locked my bike up I started thinking about it more seriously. I’d originally thought I’d call it Found, Constructions is a much more engaging and applicable term. I’ve been thinking about it all week now. It’s morphed into thought and imaginings revolving around Nuit Blanche 2013.

I’d like to suggest a Chris Shepherdly-simple curatorial thematic for the all night extravaganza next year. “Constructions” would incorporate ideas of discovery, luck, happenstance, searching, loss, misplacing, inspiration, building, representation, illusion, labour, etc. In a perfect world I could submit the theme, curate a zone, and research and perform a piece.

I’ll work on creating a curatorial statement.

The piece itself would bring together the majority of my focused concepts. A combination of Vacancy, The Task, The Clock, Waiting, Transitions, etc. It would be performance, sculpture and photography based.

For “Constructions” I would seek out existing building sites in several Nuit Blanche zones, get access to them and then rearrange / move elements of those locations. In the same way I moved the cinder block in The Task

Each site would have an imaginary Visual Frame of reference attached to some specific location on the periphery of the site. The optimal vantage point from where the piece is intended to be viewed. I would build a sculpture with pipes, blocks, pallets, etc. so that when viewed from that reference point — at a certain angle and dimension– the composition would be optimally represented. I’ve also toyed with the idea of making the “new ” compositions reference famous painting.

Effort – This is an adaptation of the above. In this variation of Constructions I would remove the complicated and somewhat overused reference to painting history and concentrate on more on the nature of effort and the dynamics of “appearance”. In a construction site with various piles of material I’d take a photograph. Then manually I would move the material until a mirror image of it’s original location and layout was achieved. It would then be physically flipped. At this point I take another photo. In Photoshop flip the original photograph. The two “twin” photographs would hang side by side as a diptych. The result should be two identical or at least very similar images but each would have a completely different meaning.

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Early for the Dentists

I was way early for the dentists this morning so I took more studies for the Vacancy exhibition. Our amazing teeth doctor is on Bay just above Bloor.  On the walk around Yorkville and was excited about what I saw.

First is the place that use to be Sable Castelli Gallery. It’s been years since I was in here for a Canadian Art / Print Making Competition. In fact I think this is where I saw my first Andrew Wright in 2001 when he won with his Embossed Soldiers work. This image makes me think of that opening night party but the more I look at it Giorgo De Chirico comes to mind. It’s the archways.

Then there was this cool and very organized construction site for the new Four Seasons condo / hotel development on Bay at Scollard. Warning the website for the Four Seasons is annoying… why does everyone assume rich people like lounge jazz? I like the self portrait of me holding the camera above the fence line to get the shot reflected in the glass. The next best thing is the rope that reminds me of a Jeff Wall ingredient from Untangling, finally the weird little pallet and the reflection of the larger building behind me.




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Islands, Holes and Paths

Islands, Holes and Paths is a result of changing my route to work. I now take a path that takes me intentionally out of my way, but for the majority of the trip, off the city streets. I’ve increased the distance of the one way journey to the office by about 7km. my trip has gone from about a 17km to somewhere around 25km. This takes me on bike path’s for 80% of my journey and I find it a much more civilized start to the day. It’s a bit more of an effort but I’m hoping my body will grow accustom to the extra time and distance.

My first sight of Lake Ontario is at the bottom of Jamison Avenue. A man made harbour –created by a rock breakwall– protects the shore line from the big part of the lake and within it’s protective shadow people are out sculling at this time of the morning. There’s a canoe club not far away. Of course I’m not too interested in the people. I’ve always been interested in the lines that split lake and sky, lake and shore, and the photographic rendering of these lines.

After making my way across the Lakeshore in front of Queen’s Quay I begin the climb North up the Valley beside the river and the Parkway, heading towards Eglington and the Science Centre shadowing the Don River. There are a ton of well-worn pathways carved into the underbrush all over the place that I think have been created by vagrants and kids.I’d like to do a series of photographs called Islands, Holes and Paths. I’ll seek out the elements for it on my daily trips. href=””>

The trip is about 90 minutes of amazing. One spectacular part of the journey is being completely immersed in a world that’s so not-like-the-city in the heart of the city. I bet these open fields and meadows are unknown to about 98% of the population. There’s a lot of traffic heading south down toward the core, but not much going up with me which suits me just fine. I can pass by joggers, walkers, bikers, not to mention streams, rabbits, the Bloor Viaduct, and tons of other stuff. I love this trip. The Tree. Later in the trip when I was only a few km from the science centre I found the tree. This image works for me on a number of levels. Most simplistically it depicts nature in an obviously unnatural setting. I think this is a common theme for me, there’s a bit of humor and a bit of sadness.
The other neat thing about this series of images is the similarity in colors and lighting. Although each is taken in a totally different location they all have the same feel.

Finally this image brings it all home. I’ve passed these buildings when riding on the road for years. seeing them from here is rather disorienting. Again like the awkwardness of the tree by the off ramp, these buildings seem strangely natural and unnatural at the same time.

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Photo Ideas 07142012

1. Take my obsession for lake front photography out at night and see if with long exposures I can capture something interesting that can be shown in conjunction with the Horizons work

2. Paths, Holes and Islands could be an essay on alternate foot and bike routes in the city. This was generated on the Don Path while looking at detritus islands at the foot of bridge supports in the river, holes cut in fences and subsequent paths created by vagrants and kids, paths made by lazy pedestrians to avoid curves in the asphalt path, holes in the forest canopy where the sky could be seen, islands in a more broad sense of the term could include rocks in the stream, concrete pads in parks for BBQs, etc., finally the whole trio of words, Paths, Holes and Islands seems resonate with important life issues. Metaphor of the photographs to decisions, escapes, sanctuaries, emptiness in people’s lives.

3. Out of focus apartment and condo towers. Do really soft focus with places like I found on the path on the way to work. Vaguely reminiscent of other photographers. Play with focus as a tool for obscuring the subject matter and making it mean something else. Do it with architecture.


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Transitions Redux

Transitions-Redux or simply subway photographs from back in 2008. These images were part of the shoot that made up the body of my first organized solo show Transitions. It was at Centennial College at the campus near Pape Avenue in the east end. I found this subsection of images in my archives and realised I had never looked at them as square crops. So I’ve re-worked them here. I’m sort of liking these all over again. A nice surprise.

Included above are images of St Claire, Ossington, Bay, Spadina, Bathurst, Islington, Lawrence, and St George stations.

Transitions was a big deal for me. It didn’t draw a lot of people, and nothing sold but if I hadn’t produced the work I would never have gone anywhere, never had a gallery. I can actually thanks David Mclyment for the kick-start. He was the one who offered and organized the show. He’s also a very nice man as well. I always meant to give him one of the images but I never got around to it. Despite my disappointment at the time that show was the beginning of everything. It’s nice to have the benefit of hindsight.

Someday maybe I’ll print some of this Transitions-Redux stuff. I’ve often thought about creating a book. If I could get it together and organize access to the Paris and London subways, I’m sure I could compile a book. I’ve even thought about doing a book of short stories by Toronto writers that at some point reference a subway station and the images would be like illustrations. Or a tourist guide based on subway travel. Maybe I should just self-publish. Although I will always hope to get to London, Paris and maybe Moscow to shoot their subways. What I really need is someone who can organize that sort of shit for me and then they take a cut of any sales or money I make. I wonder if artist do that sort of shit?


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I was thinking about beauty or the idea of beauty on the weekend and about the statement that I’m interested in stuff that other people are not that interested in. In one sense this is a crock. Other people do like the same things but they are definitely a small contingency of the whole population. In a way the statement is wrong. The more accurate wording would be that I find things that are pedestrian, or banal to be interesting and most would find these boring not beautiful. I have a different aesthetic.

Lately I think about about beauty, time and perception in ways that are slightly annoying. I lose intrest in movies, books, and music because I find them so homogeneous. They all borrow from the same rule book of aesthetics and narrative. Sure there are exceptions, but those exceptions seem to be few and far between.

That’s not to say I don’t like a good sunset, the majestic mountains, a well written mystery, a really nice sweater or a well designed and attractive coffee table.

1. Buy a cheap white three-piece suit. Set a camera up to film a portion of the Don River in the early morning sun. On one side of the frame will be one shoreline or embankment. Walk into the frame from the left wearing my suit. Without pause slowly enter the water and wade across the Don to the other side and walk off the frame.

2. In the same white suit caress the reachable portion of a well worn and dirty tanker truck.

3. lie down in a newly created dirt hole

4. record the sound of traffic

These are the beginnings of ideas. What I really want to do is plan and execute acts that “experience” the ugly, or what some people feel would be ugly sensations. This is in direct relation to the photographs I take. You could say at some point I’m trying to make people realize that beauty is relative.

Maybe each of these acts is done as a diptych of film, photography, or sound collage. Take an image of someone caressing satin or silk or other material in a fabric store and juxtapose this with the sensory exploration of rusted steel surfaces or the like.

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Vacancy 4

The photographs that make up Vacancy 4 were shot this amazing Sunday, morning in the King and Spadina area.

Sometimes I like to revisit old ghosts. Three of the following Vacancy images where shot at a building that I’ve visited 5 or 6 times over the last 10 years. It’s been a presentation centre for condos, ticket office for Tiff before the Lightbox existed and a very long time ago -when I worked on Peter Street- it had been an auto garage. Today it’s in the process of being reconfigured as a presentation centre for the abysmally named “Tux” condos. The photo above was taken through the glass of the north side entrance doors to the building, looking south through the main entrance hall at the presentation desk.

This photograph shows an empty area on the east side of the building facing Peter Street. I’m sure in time it will be filled with designer furniture, pictures of models in expensive formal attire and maybe even a realistic architectural model of the building. I like this image with the 8:00 a.m. Sunday July 8th light pouring in and the paper airplane inspired ceiling decoration. This paper airplane motif is repeated in all the design elements of the architectural renderings for Tux.

Here’s another view of the same interior vacancy from the east side looking directly at the presentation desk. You can see me taking the picture in the reflection of the building’s exterior behind the desk. I’m standing with the camera pressed against the glass window .

This is the last incarnation of this particular building. Strangely enough Tux is going to be situated on the very spot where this building presently sits.

The room below is an older vacant building on Charlotte Street. I was talking to a resident in the neighbouring building and he mentioned this place is slated to be demolished. No doubt more condo towers will replace it. I should have actually gone inside here and taken pictures but I hate confrontation so I opted for through-the-window shots like always despite there being a set of doors that were propped open with a shoe.

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Public 45

Public 45 (Art / Culture / Ideas) the summer issue is on sale now. The subject this issue is Civic Spectacle and it’s about an inch thick. The first piece is called Sleepless Nights: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Performance by Heather Diack. My Nuit Blanche 2010 piece The Task is discussed in that article alongside one of my all-time favourite artists John Sasaki and others. Sweet!

I found it rather shocking that The Task was so positively received. I mean there were people throwing shit at me and yelling stuff, but the majority of viewers found it somewhat engaging. The thing that really worked for me was that it was a simple idea. I believed in it, but it wasn’t bathed in rhetoric. Partly because I don’t have the vocabulary to do that, pertly because that’s not what it was about. It was what it was and I liked it. If I could produce more work like this I’d be happy. That’s sort of what this whole site is about. I want to use it as a sketchbook for ideas. I fond it useful to write things down, think about them, adjust and then either keep thinking about them or trash them. So far in the past it’s worked well. If I continue to think about an idea for months or longer it’s usually got some merit.

Now if I could only drag my ass out of this art lethargy I seem to be mired in and do some of the shit I constantly think about!

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Vacancy 3

I made it down to Queen Street West on Saturday for another Vacancy shoot. I took the bike down for about 6:30 in the morning. It was so nice and quiet and I had the chance to stop in front of Convenience Gallery to check out Roula Partheniou’s show “five o’clock shadow”. I’m very glad I did. Despite the fact that it was way closer to 5:00 a.m. I’ve wanted to see this show since I saw the amazing picture that Tony Hafkenscheid took of the gallery from the street. If I can find a copy of that not taken from Facebook I’ll gladly post it. Anywho, her piece is awesome. It’s slightly scientific, but slightly whimsical. I really like it a lot. If you get a chance to check it out do so. You can walk by the gallery anytime because it’s basically an old convenience store window = accessible all the time. Lansdowne Avenue & Seaforth a block or two up from Queen.

I ended up locking the bike up in front of the crappy looking Bohemian Embassy building which is just across the street and in between The Drake and The Gladstone. I walked over to University then turned around and got half way back before hopping on a streetcar.

If there’s one thing I like about the Bohemian Embassy it’s the vacant stores. They’ve been trying to rent stuff for months, if not close to a year. It’s perfect subject matter for me. Empty, nondescript rooms in a modern boring building. I’ve shot them a couple time now.

Drywall Bohemian Embassy 2012

I love the floor of drywall dust and the straightforward lines and crosses of the mudding in the drywall shot. The following were taken in the same strip of retail attached to The Bohemian Embassy.

These 3 images are basically black & white, without being black and white. Colour images that become ostensibly black and white just because of the nature of the material being shot. I have a thing against contemporary B&W. There are a ton of photographers who use it well, but there are thousands of photographers that just think for some reason it makes their work more artistic. I’m probably being a jerk, but I figure we progressed to colour over time, why shoot in B&W? The real problem I have is that the technique and style is overused. You could tie this conversation back to Roula’s show at Convenience, although I’m sure it wasn’t her intention, five o’clock shadow could thematically touch on that colourization vs black and white film discussion and how it pertains to contemporary photography.

The following images are from King Street, east of Jarvis taken June 5th on the way to work. Again these could easily be B&W. At the very least if Vacancy becomes a show there could be a series of monochromatic shots as one element of the whole. The complete show may simply be a series of high colour shots, monochromatic shots, and drastic contrast lighting shots. It’s not rocket science.

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