Residencies

Residencies look like a possible opportunity. I’ll research these in 2013 and propose the works explained below for a single exhibition somewhere in the world. The thought is to call the actual show Labyrinth.

Why not dream big. I’ll apply for Paris and maybe London. They can only say no.

Each of the following would be created in a few weeks time and all are meant to be exhibited together.

Nails – Photography. Take a photograph of an apparently random pile of nails on a white background. The pile will actually be an entire box of ardox 3” nails that has been meticulously sculpted into its the casual “pile” shape. Maybe empty a box of nails, and then create the same structure by hand beside it to create a photographic diptych.

Letter “a” Cutouts – Collage. I’ll purchase a favourite novel in a used bookstore and cut every single letter “a” out of it and affix to a larger piece of art paper with archival glue. Maybe  40 x 50″ Stonehenge, or perhaps on a blank piece of dibond.  This would then be subsequently mounted on a wall.

Perfect Circles – Film. Film me repetitively trying to draw a near perfect circle for 12 hours or until I succeed.

Hole Digging – Sculpture/Photograph. Dig as perfectly formed a square hole as possible. As I shovel out the hole I’ll place the dirt in a pre-constructed form that replicates the dimension of the square hole when finished. This would be constructed in such a way that I could take it apart easily and, if I can somehow form the dirt this will ultimately form a sculpture of the dirt that is taken from the hole. Negative and Positive space.

Paper Folding – Sculpture. Repetitively fold a large piece of paper until it becomes unstable. Continue folding the pieces until it is no longer paper but a mound of scraps of soft fiber.

Record Grooves – Photograph/Sculpture. Rework the groove of an LP with fine jewelers tools and a magnification light so the grooves become a traceable labyrinth. Remove the label. Photograph, blow up and display.

Newspaper Reading – Audio Recording. Read an entire newspaper but across the columns with a ruler so that several narratives mix together but can be followed concurently if the listener concentrates. See how much content can be read in 12 hours.

Wall Line Drawings – Drawing and Photograph.  On one of the walls of the gallery draw a line at comfortable height with a pencil. Then spend the rest of the day adding more lines above and below until the wall is covered. Make them as close together as possible and mimicking the original without touching.

Standing – Happening/Video. Stand for as long as possible in one place. Film. The odd break for the toilet is allowed, but have people hand me food.

Finger Tapping – Audio/Video. Tap my finger for as long as possible.

Human Clock – Audio. Repeat the time from a clock every minute for 12 hours. Create a sensor so that this runs continuously throughout the day but when a patron steps in the room the volume is kicked in and the clock counts the time audibly. When the patron leaves the room the clock shuts up.

Stitch – make a spiral pattern with small sewing stitches. Make it as big as possible over the course of 12 hours.

The Thought Novel – Audio Recording. Recite a story ad lib from scratch that lasts for hours and hours.

 

 

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Humour

Humour is subjective. Like everything else in the world.

I think these two images are funny. Maybe just to me. I did actually smile when I was taking these and I was aware there was some sort of play associated with these images at the time.

At the very least these images are absurd. Funny or absurd they both touch on a common thematic. The incursion of man into nature and the reciprocal idea of natures incursion into man’s domain, the city.

 

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Smells Like Fall

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Landscaping

Landscaping is the tentative title for new work that explores the nature of the city — literally. This series will hopefully end up being a combination of observations about traditional ideas of beauty and nature but within the context of the metropolis that’s filtered through my perception. At it’s simplest Landscaping is meant to be a celebration of the city and it’s idiosyncrasies. Like my previous work it will be populated by cenes and locations that people don’t typically know, or take part in. These are not secrets, but to me their a big part of the the mystery, and a key element to why I love the city.

I could call this series Commute. All of these images are taken from either my bicycle or  TTC trip  to the day job everyday. There are shots along the Bloor West Bike Path, inside the traffic islands that are created by the 4 entry/exit ramps at Eglington and the DVP, along The Lower Don Path, and from the street at Yonge and Bloor.

Landscaping, like previous work is a bunch of observations of the mundane, and pedestrian: elements of our day to day lives in the city that hold little interest to the mass but capture my imagination and optimism. These are small moments but I love them.

 

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Vogel Napkins

When I visit someone’s house, go to a family function, attend art openings or go anywhere that food is served I utilize the napkins. It’s polite and I was taught that good manners meant being able to dab at the corner of your mouth or have an approved place to wipe your fingers.

Inevitably every time I go out to a function with food I put a napkin in my pocket. Typically I’m saving it for the inevitable second helping of whatever is being served and I hate to waste paper but more often than not the truth is that I dislike putting a crumpled napkin on a plate. It just feels wrong to me and looks so disorderly and dumping it on a plate also makes stacking dirty plates awkward. It makes me uncomfortable. To me plates are designed to fit into each other and be so orderly that to leave them spread out on a counter with stuff all over them is hard to do.

On the rare occasion that a waste basket is readily available and clearly locatable it works out fine and I can deposit the napkin when I no longer require my plate. Part of the problem is I’m also not a fan of nosing around in a strange kitchen trying to locate the unfamiliar garbage, and even if I do suppress the feeling of invading someone’s privacy for long enough to detect the waste can how can I be sure which receptacle in this strange kitchen the paper goes into? Does the house-holder recycle and does the municipality in question consider napkins organic green bin material, paper to be recycled or actual garbage. Finally, it’s never a sure bet you’ll recognize the container for trash, recycling or compost.

I inevitably forget I’ve even put the stupid napkin in my pocket and only remember I’ve done so when I open the dryer at home several days later and see the abstract remains all ripped to shreds and sticking to every other piece of clean laundry in the machine. Sometimes I’ll find the thing if I remember to check my pockets before I put them in the wash sometimes I just discover them hiding out when I wear the article of clothing in question again.

Last night we were invited to a wonderful home to watch an awesome documentary on Herb and Dorothy Vogel. They’re the modest husband and wife collecting team that amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections of the last 50 years. When I finished my awesome pizza and salad I put a napkin in my pocket and mentioned I was doing so to a new friend. I had also had a few glasses of wine and explained in a very matter of fact and casual way that I was thinking I should create a work based on this awkward collecting habit of mine and that some how related –so clearly to me at the time– to the Vogel’s collecting habits and behaviors.

So the idea is to keep doing this obsessive thing with napkins and maybe consciously amp up my attendance at art openings. I’ll begin to seriously collect napkins for a very long period of time until I can amass enough of them to stack them into an impressive assemblage. I could create a paper spike that would somehow be manufactured to screw into a base or the floor somehow. I imagine this to be about 7 feet tall and to be”sculpted” to undulate in width as it grew in height based on the size differential of each napkin. The end result would be a type of shish-kabob structure. this also reminds me of a device from the past that people use to have on their desks and used to keep track of loose notes in pre-computer days. My father had one in the 70s that I use to play with that I’m pretty sure my oldest brother made in shop class in middle school. I could also make a habit of transcribing stuff on each of the napkins making them into the pages of a pseudo art diary. These could contain details of where the napkin was collected, make a short anecdotal comments about the event, review work or offer a derisive remark about some attendee. I imagine the majority of these would be from people’s houses or art functions.

All this was inspired by a group of very nice people and a movie about some seriously sweet and awe-inspiring contemporary art collectors. Weirdly enough that movie contained images of what I think was from a Robert Rauschenberg drawing of a sailboat. I framed a sketch of this work in the 90′s when I worked at AGS on Sorauren Avenue. it was also a time period when I new nothing about contemporary art. This sketch was also done on a cocktail napkin. As I write this I think this piece is about a bunch of stuff as described, but most importantly it’s about; another self-recognized compulsive habit, remembering my father’s desk and my brother’s hand-made completely obsolete office gadget, a desire to document and perhaps somehow comment on the wonderful world of contemporary art, wanting to create a beautiful object that encourages thoughtful discussion on what is art, what it means to make art, and what being involved in the art scene is like, and doing something that involves of bunch of different art disciplines and materials.

Thoughts and images to add this morning 09/17/2012; Missisauga Sunset photograph by Sonja Hidas from Facebook, previous post with the window display in support of the Quebec student rallies of the summer, draw a DNA strand and find a paper Spike picture.

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I Could Never Live in the City

I imagine it’s a common refrain: “I could never live in the city”. It’s a shame if it is because Toronto is just so crazy beautiful.

This is a view of the Rosedale Valley Road at about 7:30 a.m Friday morning, the 7th of September. It’s taken from a bridge just west of the Castle Frank subway station. Underneath all the trees is a steep and winding 2 lane road that links the east end of the city to the core.

I’m elated with this image. It’s definitely a departure from subways and public schools but it still relates to my earlier work. these images are still about noticing things that others might not, celebrating the beauty, and in a way embracing the city.

The other thing I love about this image is that I think it captures the aesthetic of Romantic painters like those of the the Hudson River School. I didn’t set out to do that when I took the picture. I think this is funny and somewhat strange considering my friend Andrew Wright referenced another romatic painter –Caspar David Freidrick– about a year ago in a photo he took that I love.

Thisnis an arial view of the Don River Valley from the Millwood Valley bridge that I shot about 20 minutes later. This one reminds me of the cover for Power Corruption & Lies by New Order which is a reproduction of the painting Basket of Roses by Henri Fantin-Latour.

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Designers

I met designers Antoine Morris and David Long –partners in The Practice of Everyday Design– at Nuit Blanche last year. For the past 5 years I’ve been documenting portions of the event for the CCCA website. They keep a database that contains photos and video of most of the projects since the inception of Nuit Blanche in 2006. Antoine and David had an installation in last year’s Nuit Blanche called the Elephant in the Room.

Despite the photos of their light based installation for Nuit Blanche not working out very well, Antoine asked me to shoot Eden House in hopes the images could be used for publicity to promote The Practice of Everday Design. I can’t say I took the best pictures on this particular day but a bunch of them ended up getting published in Azure magazine’s sister publication, Designlines in the Summer 2012 issue and the Globe and Mail on Wednesday, August 29th.

I’m not trying to be overly critical of my own work. I’m just not usually any good at taking pictures unless I’m very familiar with a subject. It’s a weird truth for me that I need to visit and revisit a scene to get images that I really like. Maybe I just see things differently after a while and that familiarization process is in fact more important than the actual image capture. If that’s true it might negate the photographic practice to a degree. Maybe photography is the excuse or method by which I commit a scene or subject to permanent memory and the actual images I take are just an aside. I wanted to be an architect at one time. I even got as far as an interview and testing for the Waterloo University program but I failed to impress them and I think I came across as somewhat illiterate so my dreams were dashed. Actually, it’s only in hindsight that I’m disappointed. I think I might have been a good architect. At the time I just pushed on into something else which ended up taking me on a very circuitous route to where I am today. I’m happy and I have no regrets.

 

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