King and Bloor West
Vacancies is an ongoing series shot through the glass of windows or doors. Taking shots in this way interests me.
I can get access to a space without permission. I can just walk up—and if the location is vacant—shoot through the glass. Normally it takes a simple wipe of the cloth to give me a relatively clear view.
I also think this innocent voyeuristic approach relates to a more sinister and historic aspect of photography. There’s an aspect of espionage in this process. I’m interested in the historic role of the camera as a window to secrets. I also find these interior spaces please me in a way I can’t really explain.
There’s also an aspect of constraint to this series. Although the glass acts like a tripod and I’m able to shoot in low light situations quite readily, the same glass also acts as a limiter and restricts the angle of view to straight on.. There’s also a series limit to the compositional frame now that I’ve started using a 50mm lens rather than my tired and true 16-35mm.
Shooting through glass is also a little bit of me giving the finger the to the rules. A basic tenant of the über photography nerd is to shoot through as little glass as possible. The lens to some is sacred and to put a filter—let alone shoot through dirty glass—is sacrilegious.
These particular vacancies where in Yorkville. The circular window is the window of the now vacant Ingram Gallery on Avenue Road just north of Cumberland. After years in this location they moved to Hazelton Avenue along side a few other galleries that have been there for decades. There are two computer printed signs in the window directing customers to their new location.Further North along Avenue Road there’s an other vacancy on the east side of the street. I think this may have been a salon or some sort of design store. I never went in it when it was active, but now that it’s for rent I find it interesting.
Aug 16, 2015 I was out of town for the weekend enjoying Lake Huron. Without a computer, or any of the usual city stimulus I think in a different way.
I was searching for something on my iPhone with a Chrome browser. I’m slowly reading After Nature by W.G. Sebald. In the opening stanza there are references to specific paintings so I was looking for the Lindenhardt Altarpiece to make more sense of the writing. After I did an initial web search and then refined it to look for images I noticed a distinct delay as those images loaded on my iPhone. I thought these loading images looked interesting. They were solid blocks of colour. I started taking screen grabs of them.
Below is one of those searches. I processed them slightly on my desktop. I took the original screen ratio of the grabs and cropped to 1:1 ratio in Photoshop. But that’s it.As well as cropping I discovered I could rotate them and they looked very different. I also discovered I could create a composition with groups of these screen grabs. The image below is a grab of my iPhone photo gallery capturing several individual screen-grabs in a grouping. This image becomes a bit creepy when you look at it in conjunction with the photograph of the gymnasium window in the previous post. It was taken a few days prior at the Adult Learning Centre in Toronto. Both are playing on geometric patterns that unconsciously relate a bit to stained glass panel construction. I find it strange and a bit unsettling that this new discovery lead me to create something that resembled a photo I had taken a few days prior without consciously planning to do so.
I’ve gone a bit further with this concept. In the image below I did an initial Google search in a Chrome browser for “Rainbow”. I then refined to “images” and screen-grabbed 20 or so times. That created enough density in my photo album on the phone to screen grab all of those Rainbow images. I cropped that square.
I then discovered I could take a screen-grab of that square image as it rotated creating the images below. I’ll try this a few steps further. I’m interested if I can continually screen grab until the image is so small it’s impossible to read.
Aug 12, 2015 I rode my bike to work. Slow and leisurely is the new me. Why rush to get anywhere? I stopped in at the Adult Learning Centre. It’s a location that has featured in earlier work. In my Learning series taken at public schools in the greater Toronto area I had a few shots. I have yet to be inside the building although I’d like to. It’s vintage 1962, one year prior to my birth. I’d love to get inside but they refused my request.
This is a gymnasium window at the rear of the building. I get the feeling it slides open. I like the faux stained glass and it’s 60s feel.
This place it on the Danforth, on the east end of the Bloor Viaduct which is apparently called the Prince Edward Viaduct. Who knew?
The image below is on the front lawn of a Legion building at Pape and O’connor. I think they call this area of the city Sunnyside. This is the first of three identical crosses that stretch across the front lawn and spell out “Lest We Forget”. I think a lot of people will get that from this single image but on it’s own, the message is slightly ambiguous and slightly mysterious.
Aug 9, 2015 These images are more about studies and how I’m thinking than actual aesthetics of my typical photographs. They’re shadow studies. Full sunlight and almost no sunlight.
The generic coffee bag is also a bit of riff on a previous post with another found piece of trash. This one more exemplifies our neighbourhood though. This is no ordinary coffee bag. There are a few places around town that sell beans in these plain, brown, kraft paper bags. Ideal and Cherry Bomb are two that come to mind. I didn’t flip this sucker over, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was from Cherry Bomb and the logo and date stamps are on the reverse. It was close to a friend’s house and I’m pretty sure they get their beans from Cherry Bomb. Friday was also recycling day and this is probably an escapee from that pickup. Regardless, I love the super hard, defined line of the shadow and the way it contrasts the rather ragged paper bag.Just up the street from where the coffee bag was discovered the West Toronto Rail Path passes over Dupont Avenue. When I walk to the Junction I need to pass under this bridge. I always feel enveloped in a depressing swath of darkness accented by the roar of car engines. The little bit of light making it’s way through between the Rail Path bridge and the Pearson/Go overpass is nice though. Out of the darkness comes light.
Aug 8, 2015 Haircut day. How exciting is that? I walked part way to Avenue Road from Edwin along Dupont. Part way because I’m so slow that I had to take a bus for the last few kilometres to be on time for my appointment. Along the way I meandered and took pictures.
My mood is changing. I find myself excited about photography again. Maybe I just needed a period of feeling like I was crap to make me see things with fresh eyes. I’m not complaining, it just feels like a long time since I’ve been excited.
Today I was thinking about my own special Throw Back Saturday. So here’s a very obsolete item, the Yellow Pages. It’s not fir to say 100% obsolete because I’m sure the Yellow Pages are still used by seniors across the country. Once they stop using them though, their dead. I found a copy lying in a small gravel parking lot. It’s actually upside down in this shot, but when I rotated it in Photoshop the whole images gives me the shivers because the perspective is wrong. This weird feeling gives me a new idea for a series of images taken from untraditional vantage points. Nothing too complicated, but I’d like to experiment with the idea.
It’s hard to believe something so ubiquitous like the Yellow Pages will disappear in a few years when five years ago every home and office had a copy It’s the same with many things in my life though; the humble penny, one and two dollar bills, VCRs and CD players, land lines, fax machines, cassette tapes, etcetera. I’m not sentimental by nature but I find it interesting.Beside the phone-book-parking-lot is an industrial mall and there was a newly refurbished unit that I could see into. I love the clean white, skylight, cinderblock wall and dangling light bulbs. This is one of the more interesting found interiors I’ve seen in months, and one I almost wouldn’t have shot. I actually passed by it, then went back. I’m doing that a lot lately. I’ll see something and not notice it, then notice it as I walk and think. Backtracking is becoming part of the process.Below is another Thomas Demand inspired scene. These generic cups are so awesomely simple and beautiful. The abbreviated conical shape just makes me smile. This one was discarded in a street planter that contained a tree. Perfect white.
Aug 7, 2015 and I took my camera to work. It’s a bit awkward on my 15km bicycle trip simply because of the weight. I have a new process though. I use to walk a lot and shoot, now I ride and research with my iPhone. Often posting to social media and generally living with images for a few days. If I’m still interested I take my big camera out and re shoot using the iPhone images as a reference.
My work trip takes me along Overleigh in Toronto’s East end. Before Overleighh hits Don Mills there was a Target. The middle shot was taken months ago on one of these journeys, the top and bottom images below were taken this week.
These are examples of images that I take because I love how photography of found objects and landscapes can often emulate what might be considered painterly or sculptural tableaus.
There’s always an element of contemplation in my work, but I avoid calling it minimalist. I’ve begun to dislike that term. Minimalism is bandied about by people as a term that can simply be exchanged with simple. I don’t find the attached images simple.
No picture of any vacant Target store can be politically uncharged. The successful U.S. chain bulldozed into the Canadian market thinking they knew everything and planned to easily covert that U.S. success. How the mighty have fallen since.
Because my day job deals with larger retailers in Canada I have a tie to this failure and opinions about it. I don’t feel this is the forum to discuss that, nor do I feel I have strong enough opinions to want to discuss them. These pictures to me though comment to a degree on commercialism, consumerism and U.S. Canada relations.
August 3 2015 East of Bathurst on the North side of Dundas West I found a newly vacated and very colourful interior. This was a place called Hair Essentials. It’s moved somewhere and there’s a note to say this in the front window, but I only took a cursory glance. As usual I shot this through that front window. This image is growing on me because it’s just so simple, linear and colourful. The repetition of “almost squares” in the square frame is pleasing to me as well. In particular I really like the white panel f paint on the rear wall and the rectangle of particle board visible in the lower right of the frame. I think I’ll print this if I can crop it a bit cleaner to remove more of the debris in the bottom left of the frame.
I keep thinking of painting and this shot of the treads and jams of a public school entrance way is an extension of that thought process. Built in the late 1930′s the simple stone is solid and nicely abstracted here. There’s a nice illusion happening that makes the composition ambiguous to some degree. The shades of grey, the varied surface textures, and the degraded lines of mortar also capture my attention. otherwise it’s pretty damn boring.
I’ve seen more of these glass pallets below since I first shot one about 8 months ago. They work well in a square frame and I’m drawn to them for some odd reason. They always appear slightly disheveled and well used. I’ve only ever seen them in green. This particular one is on the West Toronto Rail Path across from the newly constructed UP/GO station at Dundas West which incidentally is almost finished. In just a few more weeks it should be completed and still wildly unaffordable for most people.
August 2, 2015 The many faces of Lake Huron as July turns to August.
Every year we go to Huron for a week and every year it’s different weather. last year it was cold, windy and rainy. We ended up making it a much shorter visit opting to get back to the city where shitty weather isn’t really a big deal. This year it was sunny and warm every day.
I’ve been shooting the horizon for about ten years. I even have some framed prints in the basement of Huron in winter about ten years ago that were analog shot and darkroom printed. It seems so long ago.
Now I think it’s time to print some of these. In particular I’m very fond of the diptych at the end of this post. These two images with the distinct blue or white horizon lines are my favourites. I could see producing a series of ten of these all taken in the same spot but just a different times of day on different types of days. Showing the series in a line where the horizon just flows from one photograph to the next in what could appear like a perpetual line.
The cool thing about horizons are that they will still exist long after we’ve fucked up the planet beyond repair and destroyed ourselves. It’s not pessimism, just the simple truth. People are two worried about what kind of car they drive. How can they worry about destroying the world?
Also there was ship in Goderich that I liked. I’m interested in how real life can look like a painting sometimes. Here are three mooring lines against the side of a large but seemingly rather old, tanker.We’ve been back to Huron a few times in August. Below are a few images taken from those more recent visits. I’m getting interested in a few other things. The water itself and how amazingly complex it is, and similarly the sky. Not surprisingly at dawn and dusk. I plan to keep taking these images until I have a collection of things I might print.