Braille

Braille is the beginning. It’s the first work in preparation for the series called “Seeing” that I’ve been planning for over a year. I’ve decided to practice writing Uncontracted or Grade One Braille until I get reasonably fluent. Then I’ll start working on the planned large scale series. For now I’m doing a series of Braille gifts that I’m leaving all over the city. By the time I finish these in a few months I should have the ability to write without making too many errors.

For this first piece I decided on a regular 8.5 x 11 sheet of Braille with a spontaneous note on it. I wrote this using a traditional Braille slate and stylus while “Waiting” in a Hospital lounge for some stuff to get done. The text basically does little other than introduce the fact that I’m sighted and studying how to write Braille and that I ultimately plan to turn this skill into an art piece. It took me about an hour. Once I finished the piece I left it on a chair in a hospital waiting room in hopes that someone would pick it up and try and decipher it. Most likely it will end up in the trash, but that’s OK.

Here’s the piece on my lap, and below as it looked as I left it on the chair “in situ” waiting to be picked up or trashed by the cleaners.The second “Gift” piece was done on a smaller piece of paper. I wrote it while on the bus leg of my journey to work on Tuesday and it says something like, “Stranger, I think everyone suffers from some sort of blindness.” I left this on the seat of the bus.Wednesday’s message was again short. I left this one in a NOW! newspaper box. This one’s a bit weirder and maybe construed as slightly creepy. I hope not, but I think I’ll stay away from semi-poetic works. This ones translates to ” Stranger, I would talk to you for as long as I could about love if you would listen. C.S. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I just read the Braille to recall that’s what I had written. I’m definitely learning.Thursday’s's piece was rather longish but only took about 20 minutes which I’m pretty proud of. I’m getting faster every time I make one of these things and I’m looking at the cheat sheet less and less. I made this one on the subway at rush hour. Rather than deposit it on the seat and get questioned by people as I left I waited for the crowd to get off the train and left it on a bench on the platform at the Dundas West stop. If someone from the train that was arriving when I left it didn’t pick it up it probably blew into the tunnel somewhere. I think I’ll avoid doing that in future. I don’t want the TTC charging me with something, and I could see them doing so. I can leave these in the foyer of certain stations where they wont be subject to such heavy winds caused by the tunnels and trains.

Friday I did two pieces, one for a very nice co-worker who seems genuinely interested in my somewhat self indulgent projects, and another I deposited on a Dundas West station bench on the mezzanine level as shown below.

The plan for the future larger project called “Seeing” is to take existing photographic images and describe them in text. Then take that text and convert it into Braille and hand print the result using a slate I will custom fabricate to be about the size that the work described would be printed. Tehse will most likely be about 24 inches square. I’ll take pictures of these larger text filled Braille sheets and then make them into photographic prints. It sounds a bit confusing but it’s not really.

I see this work as being photography — a visual art– translated and manipulated through a a series of languages and forms then re-generated once again into a photograph. I’m interested in how the meaning will change as the medium fluctuates and the discussions and interactions it might encourage.

I’ve also made some headway and discovered an artist friendly laser cutting place that’s actually pretty convenient. I need them to cut the individual, page-sized slates I have and create the super large custom slate. This place is around College around Dufferin. I’ll stop in next week with my six individual page-size slates and get them to cut them so I can create a giant 24″ x 24″ slate that I can put a big piece of paper into.

Practice is going well and I really enjoy writing Braille. Once I’ve executed 10 or so large scale works I can take a course and learn Contracted, or Grade 2 Braille. It’s a little more common in the published Braille world but a lot more involved to learn and read. I can see Braille being a very large part of my upcoming work. It’s such a wonderful and cool form of communication.

 

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The Tree

The Tree images were taken several months apart. The first image was taken during the summer of 2012, the second in October of the same year and the third one in early February 2013.I think about this tree every day. I like it.

It’s secluded but steadfast.  A big part of the attraction for me is that the evergreen hasn’t changed whatsoever over the two or three months between these images but the landscape has moved from summer through the beginnings of autumn and now we’re fully entrenched in winter. The OCD part of me wants to keep shooting this tree every few months for the rest of my life. It’s pretty easy for me to get to, but I doubt it’s a destination point for anyone else with the possible exception of the tow truck drivers who sit waiting for DVP accidents to happen.

This sort of thing has been done a lot. Shooting the same scene at different times. This particular project however could move more in the direction of performance. I’d like to do several things that involve the tree. I like the idea of walking around it in either the fresh snow, or just in the summer to wear a path in the grass. Maybe some time I could drape the tree in material, or decorate the tree for Christmas. I can also shoot the image at night with some sort of portable light source. There’s an inexhaustible amount  I can do while keeping the frame of the image the same.

The series would be about time and steadfastness. The tree doesn’t change, nor even appear to age over the course of years.

I worry though that I’ll become more attached to the tree and if anything does happen to it there will be some trauma.

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Retail

Retail is often the subject of my work. This store front is a Rogers on the Danforth. It’s super-ghetto but the colour is awesome in amongst all that blahhh.

The side of a Jehovah’s Witness Church attached to a Budget Car Rental north of Bloor on Dundas West. I’ve shot this wall for 10 years. Obsessive might be to casula a word for that.

The Abacus Condo Sales Office. Dundas West around Gladstone. Note the coffee cup in the background on the right side of the image. The coffee cup series is another possible body of work. I’m serious.

 

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Laird

Laird has been a bit of a journey. I’ve now walked the same route for 4 days and I’ve finally got some other shots I like. It took a while. Because of this I’m beginning to think when I don’t get anything I like it’s all just attitude. I think the shots are there always, there’s always an interesting angle or way to look at the same things even if they are everyday. I just have bad days or weeks, or months and can’t capture them well.

I was calling this shot Oh Canada on Facebook. I’m still not 100% on this one and I may go back and revisit the place but by then I imagine all the leaves will have fallen. This is a self-storage place off of Laird behind the Mercedes dealership and the Marshalls store.

Below is a paint booth from one of the many car and truck places along the Laird strip. I really love the weird clinical look of spray booths and this one is awesome. I shot it very quickly and was pleasantly surprised when I got it home and had something I could use.

It’s not straight on which I’m happy about too.

This space below was at one point a post office. I’m guessing it will end up being the sales office for a new condo. The cold horizontal and vertical lines created by the metal stud walls makes me happy. There’s a little lens distortion that I have to fix, but overall it’s pretty clean.

This is the receiving dock of the Brewer’s Retail in the new Longo big box mall.

This one’s just sort of funny. It’s the weirdest place… I guess they make pie or they’re a graphic design place.

These flowers below were found on one of my first trips to Laird. It’s very suburban and in a weird flux between the small industrial/retail stuff that’s always been there and the new big box more “modern” junk. I like this image. I thought about the shot the whole day that I originally took it and when I finally got home and looked at that evening there was something bugging me so I went back to reshoot it today. I wanted to remove a very obvious shadow of myself and a glaring red stoplight from the reflection.

The return visit ended up being later in the morning and the day was sunny. The worker/owner in the dry cleaners had also moved the Visa sign for some strange reason.

These are fake flowers in a window of a modest dry cleaners that’s privately owned. I went inside to ask the person working there if they minded and they actually smiled. They were very pleasant and had no problem with me taking photographs as they toiled away inside. That makes this picture mean more to me. The woman was a bit older than me but seemed way older, she also seemed very happy and at ease with life.

Despite the fact that these are fake there’s something genuine about them. They’re obviously cared for and I think they’re also well arranged. The shop person’s intent was to make people –and perhaps themselves– feel good, not just to market to them and bring them in the shop. At least that’s what I imagine.

The flowers themselves are in an exaggerated full bloom. I don’t think you really see roses like this very often. They will also perpetually be in this state. I think I’d like to return and take more photos as time moves on. There’s a funny optimism I see when I look at this image.

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Eureka!

Eureka! I took some images I like finally! Thanksgiving weekend has been relatively productive. It did take 7 hours of walking around on Saturday and Sunday, but it feels pretty good. I may actually have enough for a show now in January.

I like this image. So much so that I’d like to use it in the January “Wandering” show at Bau-Xi Photo however there’s a problem. The painting in the background isn’t mine. It’s part of the interior design of this future restaurant in the Burano Condo building at Bay and Grosvenor. The painter’s name is Sandro Martini. I’ve asked him via the contact on his website if it’s OK. I legally have to ask because his image is a big part of my image, it takes up about 1/3 of the frame. I’m not sure he’ll reply, if he doesn’t I think I’ll have to scrap the image, sadly. I do really like this image.

Technically the following image was shot on Friday. I’ve started to head out early and walk part of the 17 km to work so I can shoot. Even if I don’t get anything it’s the effort to shoot everyday. This was taken on Dundas a few blocks before you hit Ossington. I like the dark of the alleyway and how it acts as a natural frame for the square patch containing the greenery and the light.

The shot above was also taken on Bay Street after I shot the Burano picture. This is closer to Bloor. I’ve shot this weird stand-alone structure a few times but it’s windows have always been too dirty to get a good shot. Once upon a time it was a very crappy variety store. It took years but someone has finally figured they could utilize the space so it’s been cleaned up impressively and the windows are actually clear enough to shoot through properly now.

On King Street the area just east of Sherbourne has always been a little rough. This butcher has been there for at least 20 years, and more likely about 50. Although the signs in the window are obviously new. They haven’t faded a bit and printing just wasn’t that good that long ago. Maybe it’s not that old and the owners just have a knack of making it look vintage. I love the white contractor’s van as well. This is also a very popular place to take pics just search images for Seaton Butcher Shop

Behind the Eaton Centre there’s a crazy old church. There’s also a literal rat’s warren of pathways and thoroughfares. There’s even a brick labyrinth surrounded by trees which is nice despite the sketchy people hanging around and smoking on a Saturday at around 8:30 a.m. This wall isn’t part of the church. I’m not quite sure what it belongs to. I liked the way the patchwork bricks play with the changing leaves, the greenery and the architectural arches and curves.

This is one of my favourite interior construction shots to date. The combo of the great green tarp, hose, and covered over graffiti is so organized but random.

I meandered back to an old shooting location. This is a Hydro substation of some sort on Charles just east of church. You can see why they called this style brutalist architecture.

On the Esplanade just west of the St Lawrence Market there are a ton of businesses on top of all the stores and each seems to have multiple entrances like this one. I’m pleased with this shot because of the architectural detail, the almost repulsive colours and the weird angle. I’m typically either 45 degrees from subject or looking at it straight on. This 16 degree thing happens very infrequently and so it feels rather novel.

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Finally more Bay Street. Bay was my saviour location this weekend. If I remember correctly this place was a restaurant. It’s a short little building that stands on it’s own and will be torn down to make way for more condominiums. Through the window I shot this structure which was probably the backdrop for their sales desk. I’ll adjust this image so it’s not quite as distorted as it appears in this shot. I like the bizarre nature of this room in general and the weird chunk of extension cord on the fl

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Parking

Parking will start with a call out to friends and family for small scale cars. I may have to buy some as well. Maybe I can get a bulk deal and give them away after.  I’ll accumulate as many as I can gather. I think this wil be relatively easy if I can approach friends with kids. The intention is that no cars will be hurt in the execution of this piece.

I’ll formally receive the cars. This will involve cataloguing and colour coding each to mark who’s collection it comes from. I’ll create a fairly simple excel spreadsheet. The list itself might become a piece*. Hopefully I get a mx of old and new. Scratched and broken as well as shiny and immaculate.  I’ll make it clear that I’m not interested in those annoying “super cars” that Matel use to produce for their Hot Wheels brand.

The cars will be placed within elaborate sets that I’ll make to replicate different parking scenarios. Rock Festival, Shopping Mall. Abandoned in Woods, Stuck in Flood Waters, Crushed in Earthquake, Covered in the Ash from a Fire, Off the Assembly Line, In an Underground Car Park, etc. For each scenario I’ll take a large format photograph.

*A strange obsessive variation would be to go to an actual parking lot and catalogue real cars into a spreadsheet.

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Affection

Affection will recruit actors. These actors will be placed inside a regular TTC subway car on a typical morning commute as well as along the platforms in the direction of the train.

One actor stands in the subway car aisle, mid way between a set of doors. This will put them adjacent to two typical four-seat sections. They will stand; either holding a pole and reading, texting or otherwise normally engaged. A second actor will be seated in one of the  eight seats in the direct vicinity of the “stander” and will be similarly, typically engaged.

At a predetermined subway stop the seated actor will prepare to leave. As they leave they do so in a way that takes them very close to the “stander”. When the two are touching the departing passenger imparts some affection, care or comfort on the standing stranger. The stander should show no reaction other than to take the departing passengers seat. They are in turn replaced by another actor who stands just like the first.

The exchange continues along the entire subway line. Passengers who are riding from one end of the city to the other would see this continuous display of affection or care between strangers until they leave the train themselves.

I think of this as a dance that the rest of the passengers would watch.

Affection could be a hand brushed against the cheek, imparted words of secret love, an embrace.

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