Stamps

These are Stamps my father gave me. I took these shots with my macro lens and blew them up super huge –that’s 48 inches high. If I had made them any larger I might as well just make billboards. If you click on the image you can see the detail and the weave of the paper.

These photographs are about my Dad, nostalgia, appropriation and the individuality the uniqueness of imperfection.  In an effort to break free from the last eight or ten month creative vacuum I’ll shoot these again and maybe try some others from the 60 year old collection.

20120825-162237.jpgThese particular stamps were issued to commemorate Canada’s role in World War II. The engravings were modeled on photo portraits of George the VI (The King’s Speech King) originally taken by Hugh Cecil and each stamp depicted the monarch in different Canadian military attire. There’s a very cool article that shows a great many of the Canadian War Effort stamps from 42 and 43. It shows how remarkably reliant stamp production was on photography, it also made me realise that I’ve been interested in this series because in a way it’s restoring these beautiful stamps to their photographic roots.

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Photo – Engraving  - Photo

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My Dad.

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Hoarding

Hoarding is about a few things. First off it’s an obsession with plywood. I like working with plywood, I like carrying plywood, I’m geometrically infatuated with structures built of plywood, and I like Paterson Ewen’s work. I also admit to a predilection for construction sites and materials. it must be my misspent youth. There’s a bit about renewal via renovation in my obsession. Finally there’s something about the barrier itself that suggest mystery and the unknowable.

I’m also interested in the shape of road work signs. Today–a day after shooting these images–I’m still thinking about shooting a bunch of other signs like the one in the image from behind and with little interested in the signs actual message. There was a nice side-by-side pairing of square signs on my way to work this morning that I noticed that I’ll try and shoot tomorrow. Something about the combination of hoarding and signs makes me want to paint these images as well. A nice diptych with a photograph and an inspired painting might be interesting. All three of these images were taken on Bloor in the vicinity of Winners.This image on the bottom was a pleasant surprise. I love the hard edge of the planter box and how it looks so unnatural in the bottom corner of the fame. The blast of colour helps too. In the actual image you can read the sad news that unfortunately this Starbucks will not be reopening.

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Perfection

Perfection is a little bit about luck, a bit about practice, and a whole lot about things I don’t really completely understand yet. For some reason this feels like a Paul Auster inspired concept that also borrows from previous themes in The Task, my one and only really successful performance piece. The basis for Perfection has stuck with me for several days so I think it has some merit.

Perfection involves filming myself from behind, looking over my shoulder while I work with a simple piece of paper, pencil and eraser. I will endeavor to draw a perfect circle freehand. I can see this taking a long time. I can see it happening more by luck than by practice. I can imagine never being able to do it.

Part of this idea is about the impossible. Nothing is perfect. The goal is really to be able to draw a relatively accurate circle freehand. one that appears to be perfect but that would only be a pretty good try. I will actually consider the task compete when I get to something that’s pretty close to perfect. In the back of my head I’m thinking optimistically. I may be ale to actually teach myself how to draw circles though. If I can I’ll repeat the process with multiple circles. I’ll try and draw 2 perfect circles.

There are several ways I can execute this. At one point I thought I’d try on a single clean, brand new piece of paper, with each failure I’d start gain on another piece of paper. Maybe the film set contains a pile of 2-3000 sheets of 8.5 x 11 that sits beside me. this has the added effect of foreshadowing or quantitatively measuring the scope of the endeavor. I could also use a single sheet of paper and a pencil and eraser, this would might provide a more interesting aesthetic result. I could simply work on the same sheet attempting then erasing and attempting again. I could also fill a page with attempts then move to a new sheet and fill that with attempts. If I succeed, I could erase all the failed attempts on the specific page. Remove everything that doesn’t work after the fact. This would waste less paper and also be a bit more interesting to watch as the paper fills will circles, and then when the sheet is full of failed attempts I could just grab a new sheet from the pile. Film until I get the perfect circle. I also like the possibility of having thousands of sheets of paper filled with circles, maybe the stack of them becomes a final sculptural piece.

I’d start with a small circle. If I succeeded I could then repeat the process with a larger circle. the smaller circle having been complete. This might change the meaning slightly, as I could actually succeed with a relatively small circle and then the larger circle attempts would clearly take longer to have success and might even be impossible. In this iteration I’m thinking the exercise is about trying to improve on perfection and the absurdity of that idea.

Final thought for now is to start with a circle drawn from a template and then try to copy it.

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Drugs

Drugs is an idea that’s been percolating in my head for about three years that I’m finally getting around to planning.

I’m on drugs. I’ve been taking one thing or another for about 25 years. Sometimes I’m taking less and sometimes I’m taking more than prescribed but what I take is rather pedestrian.

NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can buy these over the counter in any drug store with brand names like Aleve, Advil, Motrin and Bayer. My drug of choice is a bit stronger than any of these but it’s basically the same thing. Over the years I’ve tried a whack of NSAIDs with brand names like; Celebrex, Indocin, and Naprosyn. I’m now pretty much taking only Indomethacin (seen below). But I digress.

Aesthetically I like the shape of drugs and the colours. I particularly have a soft spot for the look of capsules that contain smaller little pills. Contact C from the old days comes to mind. It had a distinct candy like appearance and looked delicious when I was a kid. I have one of those giant medical dictionaries of drugs that doctors use to look up drugs to prescribe. There are several projects on this subject that I’m interested in.

One idea is to take pictures with a macro lens of the more dangerous psychiatric drugs that are often over-prescribed. These would be blown up to very large proportions, maybe as big as 30 x 40, or more likely 36 x 36. I’m also thinking anti-depressants and pain medication fit into this category. The simple part would be taking pictures of the drugs. The companion part of this piece would be to shoot portraits of people who’s lives have been effected (positively or negatively) by taking them. Each work would be a diptych of the drug and the patient images.

Another project would involve making drugs. Not real ones, but symbolic ones. Using gelatin capsules I’d find ingredients that are non-medicinal that carry some sort of positive, negative or interesting baggage. Maybe for specific people. I’d mix stuff up and make batches of pills then take pictures of them. I could actually fool with the look of the pills as well -making them fancy or designer like in some way- to make people want to take them. For some reason I was thinking I could make one such pill with a long strand of hair delicately inserted in circular loops inside a gelatin capsule. Imagine an extension cord being wound up and placed in a cylindrical container.  An offshoot of this idea could be to use existing over-the-counter drugs to create new and possibly dangerous amalgams. Again the idea would be to photograph them with the macro, blow them up huge and then include a written description of what the viewer is looking at. I would not take these drugs.

I’d also like to create a room made of entirely of pill containers. The old school amber/yellow ones. I imagine this as a relatively small vestibule or a hallway that leads to an exhibition of the aforementioned work. I would purchase 3-5000 various sized pill containers then glue them to the surfaces of the room by their top rims. This would create something that looks like the surface of the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway. I would cover every surface of the hall/room including the floors and ceiling. I think the containers should be strong enough if they are oriented correctly to suport the weight of people passing through.

I’m currently inquiring with a Canadian company how much it would cost for 2 million gelatin capsules that were custom made and printed for me. They have this very cool tool for designing your drug capsule, but you have to buy a minimum of 2 million.

My premise with the manufactured drugs is to make beautiful pictures out of constructed pharmaceuticals that serve an aspirational purpose. The underlying hypothesis is that we’re already far to reliant on drugs and the desire to even think of such aspirational drugs is in essence a sickness. Like our endless search for youth or longevity. Even if we could construct such drugs, the idea of taking a pill to achieve the “desired” results is only acceptable to our twisted, spoiled, and lazy first world mentalities.

I don’t want my cynicism towards drugs to be misconstrued as a total disbelief in them. They very often serve a purpose and are very useful and can be very helpful. But think of the addiction and the economy of supply and demand. With all the problems they cause and the freedom with which they are prescribed it’s hard not to tink of the pharmaceutical companies are the new Big Tobacco.

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Evans

Evans Ford Lincoln was on Dundas West just east of the 427. Technically I guess this part of the city is Etobicoke. This whole area is a crazy wasteland. I can see why people in Etobicoke think and value different things than people in the city core. I also realise this is not what the majority of Etobicoke looks like, but this strip is really depressing and at the same time intriguing.

Having said that the building has been impeccably cleaned out. The interior of the showroom and sales floor is as neat as a pin. The exterior is obviously going to seed, but it still has all it’s windows and their relatively clean. There’s also little to no graffiti. Why bother tagging this place, no one’s going to see it. The exterior signage has all been removed but you can read “Evans” all over the building where the exterior surface has weathered around where the signage use to be.

 

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Maquette

Maquette is a concept I’ve been thinking about since August 2nd. I’ve been obsessed with it. I find when I fixate on things it’s a good sign, usually it means the idea has some potential. In short the more something sticks in my head and it adapts and expands, the more valid it seems.

I’ve been shooting interior spaces through the glass of their front windows for years. Lately the work feels a bit underwhelming. I rarely find compelling new locations anymore. I get less and less exited about what I’ve shot or have been shooting. Typically in the last few months I head out and shoot and shoot for hours and then come home and delete everything.

As an alternative to this I could build what I want to take pictures of. Below is a perfect example. I like this image but I’d rather see it as a series of lines and planes than actual structural, representational elements. I’d like to distill this into a geometric sculpture by removing the reference point of the room. I think I could build a maquette that would be less narrative and more compelling than the interior spaces I’ve been shooting for Vacancy.


I think this has awesome potential. The first project could be painted foamcore. I’ll build a structure like the diagram below, only using subtle shades of grey gradation. Maybe my first attempt will be based on the lines of a hallway. The furthest surface inside the hallway will be white, the closer I get to the top our outer edge will be black. In between hand-mixed shades linking the two. I can do a series of these constructions using different primary colours. I better get the studio finished. I think I’ll make this really small and shoot with the macro lens. If I think I’m insane I might as well start acting the part.

Further to this idea I went out today on Simcoe Day for the last chance I”l have in a while to shoot. I found 2 places and a new idea close to home. Below are the early stages of the new idea. I’ve taken my standard shot and then closed down the aperture as small as possible to increase the exposure time and used the zoom on my lens to distort the image. I like this effect and it sort of makes the interiors unreal and somewhat x-rayish. I like the technique and was also surprised with the simplicity and line of the subject.

I think this is a nice step in the right direction. Now the plan could be to revisit the favorite boring locals and reshoot with this technique. I’ll experiment with underexposing to even further increase the exposure times and hopefully allow me to get some more solid ghosting. I could possibly do this with multiple exposures as well or even layer specific individual images in Photoshop to act like multiple in-camera exposures. There’s also the possibility of combining this multiple shot technique with the aforementioned maquette versions of the interiors and experiment in a studio setting with flash, other lighting and the macro lens.

For me the image below is just a nice surprise. like this interior as a possibility for the Vacancy series… just when I was close to giving up. This is a sweet ending to a pretty laid back vacation. New inspiration and new ideas make me happy.

Finally I think this is a project I could execute over the course of a month or 2 in an artist residence somewhere. I was further thinking maybe I could research one in Paris or London where I could also work on a new subway series as well. I might even be able to take a month or 2 leave from work.

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Horizontal

Horizontal is the one picture I like from several outings over my vacation week. Not very productive, but I hope to improve on my record this final vacation weekend. This image was taken on the shore of Lake Huron about a half an hour from Godrich at my wonderful brother and sister’s place. They were nice enough to offer and let Jill, Stella and I use it for part of our vacation. The horizon line between water and sky on Huron is spectacular.

This is a particularly strange picture to me. I’m so accustom to the water being fairly rough and very green here. At this point in the day the sky was so intensely blue that the water lost that greenish tinge for a bit and viola. I’ve never actually seen this colour of blue in a sky before.

This is the same place at night, just after the sun has disappeared on the horizon line one evening last week. I think sunset is around 9:00 at this time of year. Yes, I took a sunset picture. I haven’t really done that for a very long time. This one looks airbrushed. I don’t really like this image, but it does illustrate why Huron is often ranked in the top ten of the world for sunsets. The colour is pretty crazy.

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