I can’t stop thinking about storage/shipping containers since being back from Vancouver. I want to create a scale replica of one in a very nice wood. I guess it would classify maybe as a carving, or maybe I’d construct it using more of a cabinetry/joinery approach.

I’d like to make one to photograph and I’d like to photograph the real things as well.

Although t would be extremely challenging I imagine I could make one out of sheet metal using a bender and soldering techniques.

Back again after taking the dog out for a walk. That’s always quality time to think. It’s a beautiful fall day and I started wondering why I want to do this Storage project. There are a lot of things I’ve seen that have made this shape/thing resonate. There are the images that Robert Polidori took of container yards that I saw in New Yorker magazine years ago and the sculptural work of Kim Adams I’ve been in love with recently where he employs different containers to make his contemporary sculptures. There’s also the fact that these Intermodal Storage Containers are so ubiquitous in North America. We’re a consumer society and so much is transported in these containers that they’re everywhere. There’s a whole school of designers creating ways to convert these containers into livable spaces. There are shops popping up that use these as the basis for their stores. Then there’s also a weird connection to the year that The television show The Wire was set in a container yard. I also simply like the dimensions, simplicity and stackable utilitarian nature of these things… and the colours.

Also while out walking the dog I remembered grade eight shop class when we worked with galvanized metal and created a tin box via a folding machine. I’d like to get one of those folding machines now and create cool sculptures in sheet metal. Maybe I could replicate an Intermodal Container.

I think it’s a bit over the top but if I had unlimited space and budget –not to mention the time– I’d buy one of these. The learning curve would be pretty steep, as would the time involved to actually reproduce one of these shipping containers as meticulously as I imagine I want to.

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Block and Tackle

A Block and Tackle is a simple mechanical system for amplifying the efficiency of a lift or pull. By using a set of pulleys and a rope or chain you can gain a mechanical advantage over a load.

I thought my father used a small, portable form of block and tackle when I was a kid to move stumps out of the water or to move boats. But the more I think about it the more I think it was an older neighbour at the cottage. My dad definitely used a come along which is a metal winch system based on the principles of the block and tackle.

I’ve imagined every detail of this piece but it would take a long time to discover the perfect natural setting so it might be easier to “create” the set of circumstances I need for the performance. Once again this work is about a series of actions that I would perform with nobody around. I could then photograph the end result as a document to the action.

For this piece I need two trees, two telephone poles, or any pair of objects that are very securely fastened and stable, and about twenty feet apart. I also envision there to be a grass or dirt area that separates the two object although it could be done on concrete . Directly in-between these two objects I would place a boulder. The boulder should be large enough that it can’t be moved simply by pushing or rolling, but small enough that with the aid of a three pulley block and tackle and a length of rope I can single handedly move it a distance. I’d set the block and tackle up and move the boulder towards one of the two extremes –the trees, poles or whatever. Once the boulder has been moved very close to the one extreme I’d reverse the action and pull the boulder towards the other tree, pole or whatever. Finally I’d reset the block and tackle and pull the boulder back into the middle of the area where it began. The I’d take a picture.

I can see taking pictures without the boulder, with the boulder, when the boulder is at both extremes, and again when the boulder is finally back in the middle.  Hopefully either side of the now centrally located rock would be clearly marked where the boulder dragged over the earth though and people might be able to guess what happened. These drag marks would then become a narrative element in a very strange and implausible story.

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Signage comes from an ongoing desire to do text based work. Ultimately these will be temporal installations that I’ll photograph as a record of them actually happening. The difficulty will be to make it mean something without degenerating into pessimism.

I’m thinking I can buy a typical marketing sign like the one below for about $1000.00. I can then dissemble and drive it around to different locations, set it up and install some humorous but poignant verbiage. I don’t have anything perfectly planned, but the first one might involve a car dealership, or a luxury car and text to suit along the line of “A car does not make you a better person”.

I may have just come upon a new direction for the whole thing in writing that. I can imagine other similar wording like “Violence does not make you a better person”, “Intolerance does not make you a better person”. The only thing I can see that might be slightly problematic with these is that they might read as overly religious or proselytizing. But that could also be more interesting. Here’s a few more… “Money doesn’t make you a better person”, “Gambling doesn’t make you a better person” and Anger doesn’t make you a better person”

I can see these in front of race tracks, police stations, car dealerships, schools, etc.

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Rope began at work. One morning last week the window cleaners were working on our building. It’s a fourteen story place and they clean the windows quite regularly. They don’t use a scaffold or platform, they simply repel down the side of the place of with buckets and squeegees. It’s quite disconcerting when they show up behind you when your working away at your desk inside.

After parking my bike I walked by a pile of their ropes. I walked back again and found myself sort of mesmerized by he way they had so haphazardly fallen into a pile. I’m not quite sure why. I took some photographs with my phone.

I thought about those ropes all week. I’ve been fascinated with ropes for climbing and for sailing for a long time. I think it’s just something about the feeling of good rope in your hands. It’s also how they relate to fabric arts. There’s also a neat memory of a project that a friend worked on over twenty years ago — one in which they where hand weaving rope and then taking that rope and making into a blanket like piece, at least that’s how I remember it.

This weekend I went to MEC and bought a fairly expensive length of static climbing rope. I got 20 meters of the stuff. It even felt good to buy it. I think I have a lot of experimenting to do.

I’ve started by simply hanging or piling the rope and I like where it’s going.


I’ll keep going like this. I imagine in the next week or so I’ll start to suspend the rope, tie it in knots or include other elements with it. I’ll also try to take it out of the studio and see if I can do some interesting things or placements of the rope that might actually lead to a bit of a narrative.

Stay tuned.


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Pictures of Pictures

Pictures of Pictures is a concept that’s probably done by many people in many different ways. It’s like playing broken telephone with a camera.

I took a picture of a camera with my phone. I then waited for it to upload to my tablet via the cloud and took a picture of that picture on the tablet with the original phone I took the original picture with. I then repeated the process sixteen times. This gallery shows the deterioration of the image over the process of that “copying”.

There’s an artist I like who did a series of recordings post 9/11 called the Disintegration Loops. This work by William Basinski is haunting and beautiful.

At some point I’d like to try this with analog, but right now that would be a very painstaking process. I can also see this involving other mediums in another iteration.

To me this exercise is an illustrative reminder of the possibility of having multiple ways to create photographic images for future use. Maybe I’ll get smarter and figure out a cool way to employ this process but right now it speaks to me of limits, repetition, perpetual motion, infinity, and some incomprehensible stuff I haven’t figured out. It’s the dragon eating it’s own tail.

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Self Portraits

I’ve always been interested in other people’s self portraits but never really into doing them myself. It just seems odd. Despite the reservations I had to shoot an image of myself for TIAF this year. I’m a little yellowish, but I think that’s my natural colour. Slightly pinkish with yellow highlights and a good dose of mottled beige-orange bits.

This is a bit passportish (thanks Elias), but it’s also a bit Chuck Close-like at the same time. I think it would make a good large print simply because of the detail captured by my camera. You can click on the image to see it a bit larger and get the idea. Chuck Close scale is what I’m thinking, but who wants a huge picture of me? Creepy.

The great discovery with this image was that my studio space in the basement can work with ambient lighting. There’s very little light down there right now and it doesn’t seem to matter. Four compact fluorescent bulbs do the trick for now, although I do want to get a soft box, and maybe two half decent strobe lights and stands.

I used Photoshop to; even-out the background and remove some weird shadows, do some colour adjusting and add bit of contrast. The only other thing I did was remove an annoying dot in between my eyes that must be a residual chicken pox scar. I have crazy old man eyebrows if you look close enough and–believe it or not–this is me smiling. If I consciously try to smile for the camera I get it all lopsided. This image was the result of about forty attempts. Now that I read this through that last bit gives me an idea.

I could learn to smile for the camera. I can shoot photographs of myself until I get the smile right. I think there might be hundreds of attempts, but hopefully I can learn how to manipulate my face into something that looks genuine and warm. This in itself is funny to me. I can work hard to create the illusion that I’m genuine and warm.

Just thought of this one below when I was fooling around.

This is the first time I’ve used the large format camera my awesome neighbour gave me. Unfortunately I’ve just used it as a prop in this picture but over the winter I plan to actually use it. I like the idea of using myself as an unwilling model. It’s the closest I’ve come to shooting an actual person.

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