Draped

Draped is a work in progress.

For some time I’ve experimented with this and I’ve had no idea where it came from.

Tarpaulins themselves are a bit of an obsession. To me the tarp represents a period of my life that’s tied to construction. There;’s a bit of a reference to Christo and Jean-Claude, and there’s a feeling of stretching that comes into play. I’m also comfortable and familiar with tarps and as a material for art I feel they have potential. Predominantly because of their pedestrian and non-art nature. I’m also keyed on vapour barrier  plastic in the same sort of way. Both are construction material that I could repurpose for art.

In conjunction with this Ive also had a strong desire to return to performance. It was seven years ago that I performed The Task in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche.

After a few trial runs with tarps, I found I had some interesting results by replacing the construction material with artist material. In particular unprimed canvas and photography backdrop material

Draped works nicely in ways that I’m just beginning to understand. I’ll use this post to flush out those ideas and develop something that feels more like an artists statement. The key words– however contradictory are; self-portrait, sculpture, figure, process, limits, duration
self, hidden, constraint, performative, motion, documentation, black & white,  minimalism, contrast, introspection, dramatis, fluidity, clothing and hopefully a bunch of others that will surface as I work through these pieces.

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Speculative Photographs

Speculative Photographs has been percolating for most of 2017. I think of new concepts for work all the time and write them down quickly. Usually it’s on my phone in a simple notes application. I revisit these notes over time and rename, rework, and expand on each idea until they feel fully formed or they become tired and I lose interest.

My ideas like to sit. The longer they develop—the longer I think about them and the more they invade my day to day—the better. The more energy an idea provides the more I subjectively feel that seed has the possibility to germinate into good work or a body of work.

Speculative Photographs has been worked over the last 6 months into one such show idea. The inspiration for the whole came from a combination of influences and thoughts. These have been muddled together and congealed into a something I find compelling and that I’ll start to work shortly with a goal of approaching public galleries to secure a show.

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Contact

Featured

I’m working on a new website so this one will be updated in the next few months.  I’ll engage with writing and producing work at this address soon.

In the meantime here’s some information if you miss me : )

Instagram – @cjsart, oddly enough I post stuff here everyday, or almost everyday and as the summer approaches I will be quietly working out aspects of my next body of work.

email – info@chrisshepherd.net – is my main email and I’m pretty quick to respond.

Bau-Xi Photo - 350 Dundas Street West – This is the wonderful gallery that represents me and they have a new location directly across from the entrance doors of the AGO.

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any of that other stuff has lost a bit of their shine for me so the 0M6A5961spots above are the best bet of reaching me with questions, concerns, or other weird inquiries.

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Reaching

Reaching continues my obsessive exploration of construction and construction materials.

I like structural rebar. I’m drawn to the shape and aesthetic it presents. I’m also intrigued by the art of how it’s inserted and used. It seems like it would be a combination of engineering and almost creative organization. It’s amazing how the placement gets super-involved in large buildings.

These examples below can be seen on the site for a condominium development on Howard Park Avenue just east of Roncesvalles for the next week or so. After that time they’ll be buried in the overall structure.

I can’t help feeling that the underlying narrative here is one of greed and shortsightedness. It seems to me that industry, Toronto and the province create residential density at an exponential rate with absolutely no thought to the necessary required infrastructure. Maybe I don’t understand the whole picture, but it seems logical and disheartening that developers, the city and the province are just reaching for the easy money. None of these partners commit to invest in the required social changes to accommodate all this increased density.

Where are the schools, the transit, and the planning for the future needs of all these additional bodies?

Form emulating future form.

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Common/Uncommon

Common/Uncommon is new sculpture. I thought the current object I was making was the endgame, but it appears this and others are only steps in a process in determining a larger body of work.

I present the “Pineapple”. That’s not its real name but it sort of resembles a pineapple. A blue pineapple.

0M6A3274This is, a 10 foot square blue tarp cut into 5 inch squares which are then drilled in the center and pierced with a 12″ galvanized common nail. There may be more nonsensical work in a series of similar objects. I can see different colour tarps being employed in different cut out shapes to make a trio of similar objects. Hopefully this weekend I can find an orange tarp at least. I looked a while back and found a myriad of different shades.

I’m wondering what the most common colour is for a construction site tarp. It must be blue or orange. Those seem ubiquitous. I’ve just checked Home Depot and Rona and both have a very limited supply. They seem to be all about the blue tarp. But Rona does has a camouflage one. I guess that’s for the hunter/end of world enthusiast. OK< looks like I have to break my boycott of Crappy Tire and shop there. They have reasonably inexpensive orange, silver, white and dusty brown shades.

The next step however in Common/Uncommon-came to be me in the middle of the night–will be to sculpt a house painting brush out of three colours of house painting masking tape.

 

 

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Construct (Build or Erect)

Construct (Build or erect) is an idea for a show. My last exhibition had the same name, but I had intended it to be pronounced differently and to refer to a different definition. Construct (Idea or Theory) was a series of photographs of photographs manipulated into different sculptural configurations. I was playing with the idea or theory of photography, a construct of photography. In this new work my intent is to create sculptures out of building material and either display them as they are or again use photography to document them. I will construct work.

Construct (Build or Erect) has been a long time in the making. I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility of re-purposing common material. I’m comfortable with building things having worked in the construction industry when I was younger and having constructed a home from the foundation to the shingles. I can lay block, make concrete and mortar, frame, shingle, and do electrical and plumbing work. I can manage my way around a workshop and worksite.

I first merged the idea of construction and art in a project I did in 2010 for Nuit Blanche here in Toronto.For “The Task” I moved concrete blocks from one location to another and back again over a 12 hour period. 18 tons of block. It was extremely personally rewarding and referenced labour and making–as well as conceptualist, durational, performance and sculptural art.

The first recent attempt at a piece for Construct answered a lot of questions and gave me a lot of ideas. Below is a running account of the work from inspiration to execution. The next step is yet to be determined.

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Wander January 2017

January 2017 and I’ve started to wander again. It’s been too long but life sort of gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I haven’t had time,  I just haven’t been motivated.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and that means exploring the city slowly on foot and letting stuff just sort of happen.

I’ve also started to remove myself from social media. Its just counter productive for me. I’ll start to write about the things here on my website. I use to do that religiously and I miss it. If you need any info or have any questions about anything please contact me at info@chrisshepherd.net

The following were taken over a period of three days as 2017 was ushered in. Each day I wandered for a few hours with no distinct destination planned.

Below is the back of the U of T Medical Sciences Building. You can access the spot via a modest little driveway called Discovery Lane. I’m not sure if you still call this style of architecture Brutalist because it’s embellished with these vertical aesthetic elements, but it looks interesting. It’s an eight story structure and all the deeper vertical members on the left hand side of the frame hide the windows on this south facing wall—at least from this angle. I’ve done a bit of post production tilt-shift to make the image work better for me using the Photoshop Lens Correction tool.

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I’ve taken pictures of the Toronto Spiritualists Temple on College around the Mod Club for years, but never with any success or never that ever resonated with me. It’s a very modest little church like building. In truth it’s more like a cottage with a few coloured windows. This frame shows a section of the front window unit and I’m pretty sure that’s just coloured glass, or even just plastic-coated glass you’re looking at. The building must be over 50 years old. It has a distinctly 50-60s feel to it. I like the rectangles within a rectangle thing in this shot, and the border that’s created by the white window frames.

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These next two images were taken close to home, adjacent to The West Toronto Rail Path. Both were shot through the clear acrylic fences that stop people from crossing the train track areas. This is probably a good thing because the corridor is very busy now with the Go, Via and UP trains all passing through at regular intervals.

The community had wanted green-living walls to be built to separate us from tracks and noise, but the powers–that–be thought these were the best solution. They sold us acrylic barriers and assured us they were graffiti proof. They must have tested them with water colour paints because they are now favourite targets for middle class taggers. Their paint has no problem permanently adhering to the acrylic. We can live with the tags no matter how lame they are but the real sad reality is the cleaning contractor uses a cheap-ass-toxic solvent to remove the tags and it doesn’t work and ends up creating the mess you see below. The smudgy parts are where tags have been melted off with some bargain basement solvent.

Looks sort of cool on a cold grey winter’s day. These two images are no-filter, colour photographs.

We love this neighbourhood, although the 10 years of construction is a bit tiresome.
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Small note on the Wander process. I use a Canon 5Ds with a 55 mm Sigma Art lens. I shoot on aperture priority with an ISO of 200. I rarely change lenses, but when I do I have one other and that’s a Canon L series 17-35mm.

I’ve taken photographs of this Hydro Building Roof Access Ladder at Ossington and Dupont on a previous wander. On this occasion I simply positioned myself to capture the opposite angle. I was also a lot closer. I’m not sure why but these ladders are the same on almost all hydro buildings but I like them, I love the circular handles and how they stand out against the sky.

0m6a2781These pipes are across the street from G&H Furniture on Dupont. I have trouble taking pictures when I’m looking up or down. I’d rather be straight on. This is beyond my comfort zone, but the central straight vertical line is helping me to accept it.0m6a2777This is a weird little still life inside a weirder still display of another window. Located along the east side of the block the once was Honest Ed’s. Seriously—when is the last time you used the yellow pages? This forgotten gem must have been stuck in this space a long time ago. Although it’s rather specific, I have shot forgotten yellow pages before. I think that’s because the city is so big and I wander so much.

Everything about this weird window is engaging to me. It’s also the one picture I took of the Honest Ed’s block the day after it closed for good to make way for condos. I couldn’t help thinking that although it seeing the past disappear is sometimes a drag the change will be good for the Annex. The whole area has been pretty ghetto for as long as I can remember. The sad part is that this means a lot of people will be displaced. Gentrification happens and some parts of it certainly suck. As a weird aside I think there may be less interesting stuff to see when I wander because of this. Gentrification and the sanitization that accompanies it is not necessarily engaging.
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I’ve always loved these huge memorials to U of T students, faculty and alumni that were killed in the world wars. I’m assuming these are the list of the war dead. The font is amazing and the craftsmanship is truly wonderful to behold. Whenever I see these I think I want to take graphite rubbings of them on some huge pieces of paper.

0m6a2693There’s a Salvation Army Shelter for Women in the Junction. It’s across from what once was McBride Cycle but is now the almost complete DK Condos on Dundas West. It always makes me think about the relationships between men and women, because I imagine that most of the reason for these women to end up here is that men fuck them up. Maybe that’s unfair, but as I get older I really do think that men are basically irresponsible children that never grow up and that a huge portion of them cause a lot of grief and anguish to others.

I took this because the scene was simple and reminded me very much of Thomas Demand. I really love that work and because of it I see “Found Demands” everyday. 0m6a2647Crane cables form the construction area beside our house. I’m terribly sick of this construction cycle that literally began with the remediation of the land about eight years ago. But I’m also aware that it’s quite a first world problem.
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Watching

Watching is an offshoot of work I’ve been producing for the last four years. Based on images from both the Colour Circles and Colour Squares experiments which in themselves are based on the Homage to the Square works of Josef Albers.

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In this short video I’ve taken photographs from Colour Squares and assembled them into a simple slide show with a black background and exported that slide show to video. I’ve then uploaded the video to an iPad and in a blackened room, played the video while watching it and holding very still. The process of me watching the video is re-recorded on my iPhone, or my Digital SLR.

I feel this has worked out well and it’s a strong enough base for a few future video works.

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Construct Bau-Xi Toronto

For information, questions or comments email Info@chrisshepherd.net

Construct at Toronto Bau-Xi Photo – October 15 – 29th, 2016. Artist talk October 15th at about 3:00. Official opening get-together 2:00 – 4:00 October 15th.

Bau-Xi Photo is at 324 Dundas Street West – directly across the street from the entrance to Frank at the AGO

The following are works in my October show at Bau-Xi Photo Gallery in Toronto

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Colour Circles Stripped and Formed, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Entrance Foyer) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

For this image I went back into my files and selected an alternate version of an earlier Colour Circles on Black, 2016 print. I printed this derivative in an 18” square and then sliced up that photo, like the process used for Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed. Here though the strips of photographic paper are curled using a pair of scissors, much like you curl Christmas ribbon for present wrapping. This worked wonderfully to create slim hoops of photographic paper. I then assembled these strips into ball. This combination of processes creates a very graphic photograph. This isn’t surprising to me. Although I’ve had a fine art education and I’ve been exposed to wide variety of contemporary art over the past 20 years, part of my practice is informed by graphic design. In particular, novel and record jackets with a healthy dose of architecture and furniture design thrown into the mix.

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Bowie Sky Cubed, 2016 – Edition of 7 (West Wall Closest to Street) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

All of the Bowie Sky images in the show were created from photographs shot to be printed and then specifically manipulated and reshot. The Bowie thing just happened.

I typically plan when I’m going to take pictures, and on this particular day I was on my way to a parking lot in the city to shoot the sky for this series. I needed a clear day and good, well-defined cloud cover. Before I set out  I discovered via Twitter that Bowie had died the night before.

I don’t look at these pieces as a tribute to Bowie. For me that seems a bit trite and contrived. The fact that Bowie died and that the sky was so beautiful the next day was just how things ended up.  These images have become a constant reminder for me of how I felt that weird morning and Bowie’s lasting impression. Of all the Bowie Sky images in this show, this specific piece was created first.

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Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 - Edition of 7 (West Wall Middle) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

This image uses an exhibited photograph from 2012 called Brush, Gardiner, as a starting point. Various size circles were cut out of the print using a variety of utility knife tools and then both the original desecrated print and the resultant circular pieces were re-shot.

More and more I find myself not fully understanding why I create or want to create something. After I’ve done it however I can usually go back to a work and understand where it came from, but the meaning is not always completely planned and executed. My process has become more spontaneous and it’s often not predicated on an elaborate or logical pre-determined or planned reasoning.

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Bowie Sky Stripped, 2016 - Edition of 7 (West Wall Beside Staircase) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

While making the cubed version of this sky series I imagined this one. The original photographs of clouds for these were all 18 x 18 inches. I have a new cutting board set-up and a large supply of Olfa utility knife blades. I also bought a very snazzy 48” ruler that has a steel insert along one edge, a rubber backing to hold the print down and stop it from moving around, and a substantial handle to lift my fingers away from the blade. These strips are all done freehand with that set up. The pieces are then piled and re-arranged so they don’t appear with the regularity that occurred in the original photograph. It was surprisingly touchy work to re-arrange the strips of paper and I had to be very careful not to overlap the strips too much. I found the composition worked better when the white Foamcore backing showed through in places, which helped to delineate each individual strip better.

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Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 started with a 12 inch square photograph of a red, cinder-block wall taken outside a local Toronto Coffee Time. I didn’t originally photograph this wall with the idea of folding it, but when looking back through a pile of images I had printed, I thought it would work well.

A few years ago I purchased a book that outlines basics of paper folding for design and architectural purposes. I dug that book out and experimented with the red brick wall photo.

This planned process has been rolling around in my brain for a few years but I never tried to execute anything. This image verified that my imagined or conceptual process could work. I had thought about manipulating photographic paper for years in this way. So much so, that when it came time to try it I almost knew it would work.

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Red Brick Wall Folded Verso, 2016 - Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

I felt this second version of Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 was necessary to explain the original. Here all I’ve done is taken the folded/dinted paper shape from the first image, flipped it over and shot it at another angle so that the white back of the paper is not visible. The effect makes it looks like a totally different shape.  I plan to expand and experiment more with this technique. These images represent the first time I’ve tried this despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. This is pretty standard with my practice. I think about something, I think about it more, and then usually forget it for a while. If it comes back to me, it’s usually clearer and makes more sense, which makes it more imperative to execute. 

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Huron After Sunset, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery Back Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

Every year for the past 7 or 8 years we vacation on Lake Huron. We rent my brother’s place and spend some insanely relaxed time away from the everyday city life that we also love. We’re very fortunate.

Sunsets on Lake Huron are famous the world over. Literally there’s an unsubstantiated claim that National Geographic called them out for being top 10 in the world. This photograph is a bit of a personal paradox. I love sunsets, but not for taking pictures of. Photography of sunsets has been so overdone by almost anyone who has ever held something that takes pictures. The sunset has become a cliché. It’s way better just to watch and absorb the other-worldliness of this crazy event. I really struggled with the decision to exhibit this image.  It’s just not what I do, or what I’m interested in.

In the end the rationale for including it was because it serves as a direct reference point for three other pieces in the show that that describe this image in different ways. The intention was to never show this image in conjunction with the other three, however I relented and hopefully I won’t regret the decision. There’s no need to describe this piece. It’s pretty clearly described in After Sunset Lake Huron Text

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Four Huron Horizons, Rolled, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Rear Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is similar to Four Huron After Sunset Prints Rolled, 2016 but unlike that piece, here, all 4 of these images are individual shots. They were all taken around the same time but are clearly not all the same image. I worked at first with weights and gravity to keep these items rolled in this configuration and I do have an image shot of that which totally betrays the process. I’m not interested in keeping secrets, but to make something a little more commercially viable I re-visited the process using tape to hold the images in place.

Four 12” prints taped onto white Foamcore and then re-shot. This is all about sculpture to me.

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Four Huron After Sunset Prints Rolled, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Rear Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

I took four identical 12” x 12” prints of Huron After Sunset, 2016 and rolled them up for a bit. This created a camber to each print that then allowed me to stand them up on end. This is literally a photograph of 4 printed photographs.

Here the exercise is more about creating something very sculptural out of something 2 dimensional and then compressing that sculpture back down into the photographic 2-dimensional constraint. Maybe it’s about freedom and repression in a way, but I’ve only just thought about that. It wasn’t the plan.

I do use photography to contain my thoughts. When I think about photographing something it helps to limit the scope of an idea which ultimately allows them to become things. If I didn’t have the constraint of photography I’m not sure if I could handle the freedom of possibility that it inherent in that. I think I would probably just think of things all day that were impossible to execute and be happy with that.

Even within photography I’ve imposed and imaginary constraint on myself. My square format is always by choice, not by necessity.

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Huron After Sunset Text, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Behind Front Desk) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

Oddly enough this piece was the most involved of the show. It’s a work in constant progress for me. I’ve become increasingly more interested in how we imagine or how we picture, pictures.

I’m not a writer or a designer so this exercise involved a tough learning curve. I can’t honestly say I’m learning to write, but I am learning that I can revisit text a million times and keep adjusting it—hopefully improving it as I go. To me it seems almost impossible to imagine a point where I will be completely happy with what I write. It also seems unbelievably difficult.

The point of this text work is to describe the photograph After Sunset Lake Huron, 2016 in such a way that the reader could see my photograph. That this text would take the place of my photograph.

I also had to take a quick self-directed lesson in modern InDesign type setting.

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Huron After Sunset Braille, 2016 – Edition of 100 (Front Counter) 8.5 x 11 inch Braille Embossed Paper

This is the print Huron After Sunset Text, 2016 translated into Grade 2 or “contracted” Braille.

I worked for a while trying to convert images to Braille manually. I bought a number of Braille slates, a Braille sylus and a basic rule book for Grade 1 or “uncontracted” Braille. In a pinch and very slowly I could write in uncontracted Braille. Grade 1 Braille is relatively easy to write. Contacted Braille on the other hand is like shorthand that is then translated into dots, so very difficult to manage. Rather than try to learn contracted Braille, I opted to send my written text to a translation company that I’m pretty sure enters it into a translation program on a computer and then prints the Braille translation as you see in these 100 sheets.

This is a further obfuscation of the photograph. By making a visual thing un-readable to the visually accute I’ve made it intentionally inaccessible. By forcing a photograph into text that can only be understood by a Braille reader or visually impaired person, I’m thinking about how we open our communication to segments of society that are often marginalized by the mass.

This is a body of work I think that could easily keep me busy and interested for the rest of my life. Maybe not Braille in particular, but the idea of making representations of photographs that don’t involve images s very interesting to me.

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Parking, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Front Gallery East Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 48″ X 48″

Parking, 2016 is an idea I’ve been working for a month or so. I’ve debated with myself if it fits into the “idea” for this show. It’s still about manipulating photographs, but it’s just not a physical manipulation. I’m pleased with it regardless, and I’ll print and include it.

The original shots for this piece were taken in the parking lot for an industrial complex in our neighbourhood. We’ve gone to a bunch of contemporary art exhibitions there and I’ve photographed aspects of the place several times over the last 15 years. Each of the squares in this image was a shot of the parking lot. In particular one specific square of the parking lot that had and interesting arrangements of lines, and that had been overpainted. I just shot it at different angles on different days.

The simplicity of this piece for me is its relationship to found art. Those lines you see are all in this place, and will be there until the parking lot gets painted again. They exist everyday as a mundane patchwork of colour on a bland off-black background but I found them fascinating. I can also go back and visit them and they’ll still be there for a while.

Taking these photographs and placing them in a grid in Photoshop became a simple exercise in personal aesthetics, and a weird desire for mathematical order under the guise of random placement.

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Parking Elements, 2016 – Edition of 7  (Front Gallery North Wall i.e. Behind Foyer Wall) – Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 24″ X 24″ also to be installed on a plinth as a pile of 3″ photographs.

This started as an actual grid of small prints printed as a large photograph, very much like the 48” square Parking, 2016 in the show, but I then took that large print and cut all the pieces out and piled them into this little sculpture. I love this piece as an object and as a representation of a photograph.

The other thing I really like about this is that I can re-shoot the pile with a myriad of different images that can be moved to the top of the stack, therefore making each print individual or 1 of 1.

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20 Perpetual Self Portrait Machines Stacked, 2016 – Edition of 7 (Back Storage Room West Wall) Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36″ X 36″

20 Perpetual Self Portrait Machines Stacked, 2016 is a departure from the rest of the show in that it’s not about the literal photograph like the other works. It is however still about photography in a more convoluted way.

I had these 20 little mirrors made for me by a glass and mirror company. I had them made to the proportions of the—now outdated—iPhone 6 Plus screen. The idea was to play with an antiquated appropriation of the selfie by making the iPhone into an old school mirror. It’s meant to be sort of funny but also slightly disturbing.

The original vision I had was to create a pile that looked like discarded phones that would reflect the image of the viewer back on them in 20 different “self-portraits”. I still have to fool around with this original idea, but I found the sculptural aspect of the pile to be very alluring.

These are simply piled on a piece of black Foamcore in the studio, arranged, and shot while another piece of black Foamcore is supported about the mirrors to make the reflected surface appear deep and dark. I plan to take this pile and move it into the outdoors, hoping that perhaps—on a particularly cloudy day—it would create a unique and aesthetically interesting piece or even film.

I have a lot of fooling around to do with this, but this work is the start.

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October Construct

Parking is an idea I’ve been working for a month or so. I’ve debated with myself if it fits into the idea for my October Bau-Xi Photo show. It’s still about manipulating photographs, but it’s just not a physical manipulation. I’m pleased with it regardless, and I’ll print and include it.

The original images for this piece were taken in the parking lot for an industrial complex in our neighbourhood. We’ve gone to a bunch of contemporary art exhibitions there and I’ve photographed aspects of the place several times over the last 15 years. Each of the squares in this image was a shot of the parking lot. In particular one specific square of the parking lot that had and interesting arrangements of lines, and that had been overpainted. I just shot it at different angles on different days.

The simplicity of this piece for me is it’s relationship to found art. Those lines you see are all in this place, and will be there until the parking lot gets painted again. They exist everyday as a mundane patchwork of colour on a bland off-black background but I found them fascinating. I can also go back and visit them and they’ll still be there for a while.

Taking these photographs and placing them in a grid became a simple exercise in personal aesthetics, and a weird desire for mathematical order under the guise of random placement.

0M6A0794Parking_48x48_FinalHuronWaves_Final_48x480M6A1326AFTER SUNSET, LAKE HURON
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Power Plant

Today I walked from home to the Power Plant taking pictures with the new camera. A nice two hour walk on a beautiful day. I was meeting Jill to see the current exhibition there which was incredible. Ulla von Brandenburg and Franz Erhard Walther are two German artists who’s work comfortably sits together in the same building. I wasn’t familiar with either artist, and now I look forward to researching and becoming more familiar with both their practices. Both multi-disciplinary artists working with colour, language, textiles, film and performance. Well worth the trip down to Queen’s Quay and running until the 5th of September.

Maybe I’m getting older or maybe the large institutions are getting better, but whatever the reason I feel I’ve seen a lot of good things lately. Stephen Andrews, Hurvin AndersonVilhelm Hammershøi were all standouts at the AGO. Similarly I really enjoyed Joy Walker at MKG127 and the current photography exhibition Counterpoints: Photography Through the Lens of Toronto Collections at The Art Museum at U of T is stupendous. It runs until the end of July so if you haven’t seen that you really should go.

On my walk I reshot an image I liked form a few weeks back. I just wanted to capture it more accurately and to do so I simply had to lower my point of view and decrease the depth of field. The original shot is slightly annoying to me. I think I’ve improved upon it here.IMG_0273Shortly after this reshoot I made my way down Lansdowne and just north of Queen spotted this bicycle rack. It’s super abstract and I liked the curving organic jumble of metal that appears to have no rhyme or reason. I can’t say I’m a fan of these type of bike racks but they’re definitely better than nothing.

IMG_0271Around the same part of Lansdowne is a fire station which looked like ti was getting the driveway redone. My guess is that it’s concrete newly poured and protected with these tarps to stop people from carving their initials in it, or maybe simply to protect the surface in case of rain while it dried.

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I also managed a nice photograph of Jill watching the Ulla Van Brandenburg film—It Has a Golden Red Sun and an Elderly Green Moon—at the Power Plant.

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Oh yeah, and the clouds in Toronto have been really amazing lately.

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Canon 5Ds

The new Canon 5DS behaves very much like the old camera. It just has a massive file size and a lot smoother shutter action. Both things though are immensely important to me for creating huge prints. It seems my minimum print size now is 36 inches square. The files from this 5DS can get me that large with a lot more clarity and a lot less resizing than the old 5D Mark II ever could. But the old camera certainly served me well.

The other nice thing about the camera is that I’m interested again. I’m starting to slowly see things I haven’t been seeing for a few years. Investing in the new camera has pushed me outdoors to explore and I’ve begun wandering endlessly. Sometimes I walk for hours and don’t get a single image worth keeping, but I’m exploring and that feels important.

The first two images below were taken in The Junction which is a ten minute walk from my immediate neighbourhood, The Junction Triangle. The first photograph is an interior shot through a window. This part of the Junction is west of the cool and gentrified area, c loser to Runnymede than High Park Avenue. There’s not a lot happening on this stretch of Dundas West close to little Malta. That’s echoed in the remains of the business shown here. The really pedestrian chairs smack of the 1990s while the improvised pegboard door and cheap handle are a handyman’s special.

The second shot is east of the popular Junction. This image is of a strange little amphitheatre adjacent to a school. Think slightly west of what is perhaps the most dangerous and confusing intersection of the city where Dundas West meets DuPont, Annette and Old Weston Road. The light filtering through the leaves was wonderful and the dappled burst of circles make me smile. In what is an otherwise depressing and forgotten little nook of overgrown and decrepit space this sunlight is positively beaming. I also think this image will look very wonderfully abstract when viewed from across a room.

0M6A0330 0M6A0290At the bottom end of the Toronto West Rail Path is a Toronto Employment and Social Services office. This is the entrance railing in the underground parking area that looks like it’s simply a staff lunch area now. I may retake this so the bottom of the semicircle of railing is lifted either above or below the horizon line in the background.

I think of type faces or fonts the more I look at this. There seems to be a shift to thinner lighter weight fonts lately in the design world and for some reason this railing reminds me of that change.0M6A0221Gas meters are always a fascination. I’ve loved these things since I was a kid and they still fascinate me to a degree. Likewise there’s a weird draw to plywood and construction in general. Probably a result of years of doing construction work. Many street photographers are intrigued by decay and abandonment, I’m more interested now in transition, rebirth and building. Perhaps that’s just a latent optimism.

This was taken on Yonge Street across from the Toronto reference Library where a block of century buildings is being gutted to create a new building on the edger of Yorkville. 0M6A0166 I can’t remember what this place was. How weird is that? The refurbishment has taken a  few years now and they’ve not made a tremendous amount of progress. For some reason in my head this was a hotel that was big in Film Festival patronage. But I could be wrong. I want to say the old Sheraton, but I’m completely unsure. 0M6A0009 This piece below is a bit more conceptual.

Over the past ten years the square has become ubiquitous in my work. Most of my output is created with a digital SLR. My camera’s frame and viewfinder ratio mimics an analog 35 mm format. The sensor and architecture of the device always produces a rectangular image in the ratio of 2:3. Somewhere in my process I became uncomfortable with this rectangular ratio and started to think and crop my work in a 1:1 ratio. The square. I’m obsessed with it’s simplicity and beauty. I love the confinement that shooting is square dictates. I’m comfortable with it. Everything I shoot now I think of in the square. All my initial shots are still done with a digital SLR and the files start off as rectangles, but for anything I print or share I always crop it to square. I’m uncomfortable and feel conflicted working in anything other than the square.

About five years ago I also began experimenting with made photographs. Until that point my process focused on walking and shooting what I saw as I explored. I still love that way of working and that is still a big part of what I do, but I wanted to work differently. I wanted variety so I started working ideas that were planned interventions. Set up photographs. These ideas focused on the camera as a tool and instead of exploiting found imagery I began to create the subject matter.

There’s a whole bunch more explanation coming in here… that will end with…

I have two 20 inch wooden panels that I bought to paint on. I’ve primed and sanded them down, all ready to create work but never had the nerve to wreck the wonderful blankness. I take these out into the area and shoot them in various situations. This panel was simply placed on a clay pile that will become the newest Junction Triangle housing estate. I think these places will start at about 700K and I’m sure they’ll be built out plaster board and shitty finishes and people will flock to buy them because they’re new.

It’s fascinating that there are basically 2 types of home buyers. Those who need something new and those who prefer something lived in. Are their people out there who don’t care if they live in a  new or an old place?

0M6A0036I’ve always taken photographs through the windows of empty or closed retail stores. The shot below is from a Driver’s Education place on Dundas West around Le Gallery. I found this very funny and the photograph works in a humorous way for me for several reasons.

Such a 70s image. The car is literally a Corvette from the 70s. My Brother in-law had an orange Corvette around this time. I remember it being fibreglass. I also remember my sister was so short that she couldn’t really see out the front window because the hood was so long and she got really nervous driving it. Obviously the hood was so long because it was housing that huge engine. I also remember that they sold this car, but before the actual sale, somebody came by their house and stole some of the chrome engine parts. So that story always make me smile.  but the other funny thing for me is the personification of stereotypical old-school social culture and the importance of sports cars. To me the sports car is all about 14-15 years old and men that never grew up and an entire industry that hopes these men never grow up and keep buying these weird penis-on-wheels type vehicles.

This also works because it’s a photograph of a photograph. It’s also a bad photograph meant to sell cars and as a “picture” it has little to no value. Especially now that’s it sat in the sun for 40 years and is completely colourless. I love these sort of photographs when used to promote a business. It’s particularly poignant to me when they are photographs in a window used to display either an actual photographers skill, or a hairstyle that might be particularly stylish. Both things just can’t be true. Any self respecting photographer would never display images that had faded to a mere shadow of their former selves. Also if it’s a photo in a salon, that salon is obviously going to provide you with stylish upgrades based on the fashion from 20 or 30 years ago. This makes me laugh. I’ve just decided that I can print this for my October Bau-Xi Toronto show. It fits with my general concept of showing this/photographs about photography.

Finally the rippling print in the frame is testimony to how many years it’s been hanging around. It must have been water damaged at one point and then dried all ripply.

To think this hangs on the wall as something that could relate to taking a drivers education course makes me smile as well.

0M6A9955So the biggest thing about my new camera is that is has motivated me to start long walking again. I’ve missed over the last few years. I never made a conscious decision to stop wandering and taking photographs, it just happened unfortunately. Those last two years have felt like they’ve been missing something. That something was walking. The photograph below was taken on the beginning of one of those long walks. Routinely these walks last 2 – 3 hours and I can travel around 10km at a time.

The image below is also after a much needed rain. This summer his past the halfway point and we’ve had very little rain. It’s super dry. We did get a bit lately and week or so ago I and as I ventured out I found this nice puddle beside the patio at the Farmhouse on Edwin at Dupont. I’ve been relatively obsessed withe power lines lately. In our neighbourhood, at this part of the Junction Triangle there are a lot of overhead power lines.

This is also reflecting—no pun really intended—on the penchant for contemporary artists to use a lot of mirrors lately. 0M6A9879

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Canon 5D Mark II

I’m selling my much loved EOS Canon 5D Mark II. I need a larger file size to create larger prints so it’s time to say goodbye. This is a Full Frame DSLR that I’ve used for the past 5 years and capable of producing gallery quality images up to 48″ x 48″.

EOS Canon 5D Mark II Body Only

  • excellent condition, currently my working camera body
  • 21.1 megapixels
  • full frame
  • 2 batteries
  • battery charger/USB transfer cable
  • original box and French instructions (English ones are online)
  • estimated shutter count 50K (can only be determined accurately when serviced)
  • detailed info/review here Canon 5D Mark II Review
  • $1100

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Long Walking

Long Walking finds things. I’m feeling good about starting to long walk again. It’s been too long since it seemed like my second nature. The trick to get back into it is to start smaller, with hour-long treks. It feels like I’m seeing things again slowly. This upcoming weekend the focus will be on a two-hour journey, hopefully in some new, strange neighbourhood I’ve never been too. This should help shake things up.

Over this first weekend in June my camera got out exploring a few times and the photograph below is a closer view of a staircase I shot last year. The frightening truth however is that I just looked that image up and it was actually taken two years ago. There’s a lost year in my head somewhere. That not too surprising. Despite this weird space mess up what matters is that I liked the original image from 2014. This one is even more pleasing to me. I’ve revisited the same place but I’ve changed and this new photograph seems different, more abstracted. It took a long time but I’m pleased with the abstraction achieved.

IMG_0583 Before the walk and the shot above, we met friends at a gallery opening at Angell Gallery for the Adam Lee show and while leaving noticed this cool patterning in the parking lot lines. I shot it then with my iPhone. In an effort to get a better quality shot I went back three times over the course of the weekend and finally captured this image which was taken after a thunderstorm in the early evening. I think I prefer the iPhone image slightly, but that’s just a shitty quality file that I can’t do too much with. The shot below makes me think I might have found a small series that I can continue. These could also be images that turn into paintings. IMG_0545I have a great photography supply place right around the corner from my house. FilmPlus has been good to me over the years. I’m pretty sure I bought a lens from these folks. I’ve bought a bunch of little stuff from them and rented a bit. It’s a no fuss, professional shop that deals predominantly with the many studios in the neighbourhood and rents almost anything. Last thing I rented was a Canon 5Ds. This shot is taken on a Sunday as I walked by the store front on my way from taking the parking lots lines above. I’m guessing this is some sort of large reflective diffuser for strobe flash of some sort. It’s huge at about 1 meter across and decidedly steampunk looking. I don’t do much artificial lighting so it’s a bit of a mystery to me.IMG_0560 Sometimes I’d like to be less geometric and get more organic.

Like many people I’ve always loved power lines but this is the first time I’ve shot them that feels like a potential print. Usually power lines just get in the way of what I’m shooting and these were doing the same thing until a slight switch in perspective made them the subject of the shot. Just before a thunderstorm hit while shooting the clouds for another project it became apparent that the camera could be lined up to make the power lines seems perfectly straight and become a somewhat painterly incursion into the background. This shot is a continuation of the vertical window blinds shots from a few years back. Again this feels like a bit of a man-made, found, hard-edged, abstract painting piece and again this is feeling like a potential series.
IMG_0572 The one below feels like a bit of a throw away, the colours and textures are interesting though. Taken under the very dark and depressing Keele Street rail bridge just above Dundas West. The iron work is quite stupendous though.IMG_0598All of this feels like a good start to the idea of longer walks. I’m getting back to the idea of being a flâneur and think maybe a new camera is in store as well. So if anyone is reading this and feels like taking the plunge into a used, full-frame DSLR I’m going to be selling my present Canon 5D Mark ii. I think I’ll offer it up at a good price. It’s been a pretty damn fine camera. It is however time for bigger file sizes to accommodate bigger prints so the 5DsR is on the horizon. I’m also looking forward to the idea of setting the 5Dsr  up to show square crops. I’m so tired of the 2:3 ratio of the typical SLR.

 

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Unfinished Painting Number One

This is an unfinished painting. I have two of them. I bought the 30″ inch square wooden panels with the intention of painting them, but the closest I’ve come to date is to prime and sand them. I like them as simple white wooden squares.

A few years ago I worked with some small squares of coloured paper mounted to foamcore that I produced and then insinuated into compositions in a variety of ways. The problem with that work is that I didn’t like that the panels were attached to the end of a stick. To make them float in space I had to Photoshop the stick out. On top of that those panels were created specifically to photograph in strange ways.

I was thinking about those panels and—like I do almost every waking minute of the day—I was also thinking about my inability to produce work. For several years it’s been a struggle to make anything, and even when I do I don’t have the same confidence or belief in myself or my ideas. These larger painting panels are a perfect example. I got them ready to paint, but to date haven’t managed to complete what I set out to do. This image below was born out of the doubt I’ve described but it’s hopeful and I like the inherent paradox.

There are a few other things happening here.

I have become more interested in producing art about art. I find this piece works in a bunch of ways that might not be completely apparent to the viewer.

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I took this panel and added a hanging wire and hardware to the back of it along with a simple ‘S” hook. I ventured out of the house on foot and walked a few blocks to this location. I attached the hook on the back of the frame to the frost fence in front of this building and shot it. One of the associations for this work is with “plein air” painting. It’s an old term that describes the type of painting where an artist takes their canvas out into wherever they plan to work and does it in on the spot, in the open air directly referencing the subject. I find this idea romantically old-fashioned. I also work with photography so it makes the process sort of pointless. Finally I’ve never tried it, and don’t think I’d be any good at it. This piece references art history because of it.

The building in the background of the painting is the future home of MOCCA The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. The obvious reference here is that the building in itself is an unfinished work. We really don’t know how good it will be, or if it ever makes it to completion—like my painting.

Unfinished Painting Number One is also about my art career and how I see it as being an unfinished work and one that might never happen. More accurately I should say that this career might never work out the way I imagined it might five years ago. To me this work is a bit of humour mixed in with a touch of disappointment. This might be the closest I get to having work associated with MOCCA in any way. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I can see this becoming a series of works with me carting the panel all over the city or possibly beyond to places where art galleries are being renovated or built. Maybe actually painting the panel or starting to paint the panel as I do so. I can also imagine painting the panel in such a way that the image on the surface  fills in the chunk of landscape that it obscures in the photograph above.

Despite the uncertainty associated with this piece, it has a ton of possibility and makes me feel very positive. Well maybe not VERY, but it makes me feel positive.

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Unfinished Painting Number Three

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Unfinished Painting Number Two

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Looking Closer

I haven’t taken the camera out in a very long time. More accurately I haven’t taken many photos with the camera in a very long time. Maybe I just needed a break, maybe I didn’t have much to say or maybe I just didn’t find anything that interesting. Whatever the reason it felt good on Saturday.

Sometimes I wonder if the walking is the thing that I need and it’s not so much about the taking photographs. It’s most likely both.

I feel like I’m looking closer at things now. Digging deeper into them and seeing things. I’ve always felt I was good at observation and possibly more sensitive to ideas that might be invisible to others. This feels like me honing that skill.
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Glitch Quilt

This is one file from the Glitch series used to make a four image square. That four image square is then layered out in a grid pattern. Inspired by Jill’s quilting and the workroom in general, this process is also influenced by aspects of the amazing Clive Holden’s work. I don’t fully comprehend everything he does, but I have loved and respected his work for over 15 years now and it’s certainly stuck in my head. He shows with Stephen Bulger in Toronto. This might end up becoming a 48″ x 48″ print.QuiltforIstagramTo get a better idea of how this might look printed look at this on your desktop and click the image to see a bigger version.

Here’s how I started this adventure… and then I decided less is more.

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Glitch

Glitch are pieces that were saved from a crashed hard drive. I seem to have a lot of these and find myself looking at them more and more. I love the random, error-driven arrangements and colour shifts.T3024x2024-11218A few years back I had a Lacie RAID drive for backup. It died a horrible death and so began the daunting task of having my files restored or at least recovered. The place I get work done on my Mac set to work and in a few weeks had recovered some data. The problem was that what they were able to recover was about 10,000 files and these had lost their names and folders.
So basically I had about 5 years of photography files that were all now just randomly numbered instead of named and they all sat in one folder. Finding stuff meant wandering through the data.

While wandering through, I realized that most of what had been recovered was multiple versions of the same file. Some were Tiff, some RAW and others were file types I’ve never heard of.
This was super depressing. Not only was all my work messed up, a lot of the files were damaged.

I continued taking new photographs and when I sold something older, I had to go into this drive and find it. It sounds horrible, but by this time I had resigned myself to the fact that shit happens, and frankly if I sell work it tends to be something I’m currently working on, and there’s very little backtracking required.  The other day when I was casually glancing back at my external drive setup where all these old files reside, I found myself looking at the error files again.

These are predominantly photographs of subways and a vacation about ten years ago that have been severely messed up. All I’ve done for the versions included in this post has been to crop the 2:3 ratio of each to a 1:1 square ratio. I find that’s the only orientation I like anymore. It’s been my production ratio now for about 7 years.T3024x2024-11567 I find it pretty cool that in the process of recovery for some reason each of these files has been mashed together with several other files and the colours have been messed with. It’s like they were lost for a while. IN the ether of electronic limbo, then they were found again  but that place where they had been had changed them. Reminds me of a very cool book series that I read recently The Southern Reach Trilogy.T3024x2024-11586Lately I’ve been reading a lot about success through failure. This is one of my biggest failures. I certainly learned to be more careful with my digital files, and now have a crazy 10 TB external drive and a traveling 1TB backup for all the final files I ever produce. I should be OK if there’s another failure, but this drive also has built in redundancy and tells me when one of it’s 4 component drives is about to fail. It’s worked very well for a while now.
T3024x2024-11611The thing about these images is that they are super random, and other than the original pictures and this new square crop have almost nothing to do with me other than this epiphany I’ve had in the lat week that these are worth something to me. They also fit very nicely in my developing interest of the image for the image sake, or photography about photography.T3024x2024-02503 So I’ll be going through this vast file full of files and looking for all the messed up images that were created.

It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, and it’s rather daunting to go through all the stuff, but the beauty of some of these images is clear. They also represent a recurring motif in the work I’m producing now which relates to the mythology of the Phoenix and the creatinon of something from the destruction of another thing. T3024x2024-02565 T3024x2024-06998 T3024x2024-06995 T3024x2024-02562

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Construct – Vancouver, April 2016

Construct

April 9th-23rd BAU-XI Gallery2nd Floor, 

3045 Granville Street West, Vancouver

Construct is part of the Capture Photography Festival happening in April, 2016.

Construct is a series of interventions on physical photographic prints. Through shredding, cutting, tearing, folding, crumpling and other acts, photographs are reimagined and reconfigured into sculptural forms. These new objects are then re-shot and the journey—from taking to making and back to taking—allows the viewer to re-evaluate the conventional language of photography. Memory, nostalgia, documentation and other established tropes of the medium become secondary to the form and object, opening a dialogue about what an image is and what it means.

My artistic practice to date has focused on large scale photographic prints. Underpinning that work has always been an overriding interest and affection for painting and sculpture by both the Geometric Abstractionists of the 1960s and Contemporary and Conceptual artist of today and the last 50 years. Construct is a conscious effort to move from “taking” pictures to “making” pictures within this frame of reference. The work in this series uses either existing artist proofs or newly photographed pieces specifically shot and printed to work with the new processes of manipulation. These processes deliberately avoid technology and opt instead for mundane and repetitive physical actions. This also adds an archaic, durational aspect to the work that is simultaneously uncomfortable and meditative.

The following were all created in January and February of 2016.

2.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFoldedRed Brick Wall Folded, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 started with a 1 foot square photograph of a red cinder block wall taken outside a local Toronto Coffee Time. I didn’t originally photograph this wall with the idea of folding it, but when looking back through images I had, I thought it would work well for either crumpling or stripping.

A few years ago I purchased a book that outlines basics of paper folding for design and architectural purposes, and remembering that I had it I decided to experiment with the red brick wall photo. This process has been rolling around in my brain for a few years but I had never tried to execute. This image verified that my imagined process could be worked with photographic paper.

3.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFolded2Red Brick Wall Folded Verso, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I felt this second version of Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 was necessary to explain its companion. Here all I’ve done is flip the folded/dinted paper shape from the first image over and shot it at another angle so that the white back of the paper is not visible. The effect makes it looks like a totally different shape.  I plan to expand and experiment more with this technique. These images represent the first time I’ve tried this despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. This is pretty standard with my practice. I think about something, I think about it more, and then usually forget it for a while. If it comes back to me, it’s usually clearer and makes more sense, which makes it more imperative to execute.

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Bowie Sky Cubed, 2016 – Edition of 7 – Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

All three of the Bowie Sky images in this show were created from photographs specifically shot to be printed, then manipulated and then reshot. The Bowie thing just happened.

I typically plan when I’m going to take pictures, and on this particular day I had planned to go to a parking lot in the city to take pictures of the sky for this series. This relied on it being a clear day and that there was also defined cloud cover. Bowie died the night before.  I don’t look at these pieces as a tribute to Bowie, for me to do that would be trite and contrived. It was how it happened though and these have become a constant reminder to me of how I felt the morning that Bowie died and what he had meant and would continue to mean and symbolize to me. Of the three Bowie Sky images in this show, this one was created first.

11.FINAL_36x36_BowieCloudsStrippedBowie Sky Stripped, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

While making the cubed version of this trio I imagined making this one. The original photographs for these are all 18 x 18 inches square. I have a new cutting board and a large supply of Olfa utility knife blades. I also bought a very snazzy 48” ruler that has a steel insert along one edge, a rubber backing to hold the print down and stop it from moving around, and a substantial handle to lift my fingers away from the blade. These strips are all done freehand with that set up, then the strips are piled and finally re-arranged so they don’t appear anything like the original order in the original photograph. It’s surprisingly touchy work to re-arrange such strips of paper and I had to be very careful not to overlap the strips too much. I found the composition worked better when the white of the Foamcore backing showed through in paces to delineate each strip better.

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Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This was the last of the three Bowie Sky images. For this I took the strips used to build Bowie Sky Stripped, 2016 and individually curled each one—like you would curl ribbon when wrapping a present. Each strip becomes a circular loop and those loops are then piled together. Originally I hadn’t known they would form a sphere, it was a lucky happenstance. As I piled the loops they just naturally began to fall into a loosely formed ball.  I simply picked the structure up and pushed it together a bit in my hands to form the almost perfect sphere in the shot.  This is photographed at an angle, rather than directly above and straight on like most of my work. The sphere rests directly on a Foamcore backdrop.

4.FINAL_36x36_ColourCirclesonBlack2Colour Circles on Black 2, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is another print in the series that began developing in 2013 and like Colour Circles on White 22016 originated in the same way. Both the black and white backgrounds are sheets of Foamcore that I put on the floor of the studio. On top of each background a cardboard tube is placed and the colour discs are stacked and placed on the end of that cardboard tube so they are elevated off the Foamcore. These are shot directly from above. This process allows me to separate the foreground and background in Photoshop and make it easier to separate them into different layers. I can then easily underexpose the black and overexpose the white to remove most of the shadows and eliminate the texture of the Foamcore sheets while retaining the correct exposure for the colour circles.

9.FINAL_12x12_ColourCirclesonWhiteColour Circles on White 2, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

In 2013 I created six inch, circular, colour photographs in Photoshop. These were then printed as chromogenic prints and mounted to Dibond. Originally I took these discs and attached them on sticks and held them out in front of my camera and shot them surrounded by water, forest, or whatever. I’d then remove the stick with Photoshop. There was something about the manipulation that felt dishonest, so I abandoned that work. I then took the discs and started piling them up in the studio.  These are photographs of photographs like everything else in this show, but with these I was definitely thinking of Joseph Albers and Ellsworth Kelly’s work.

13.FINAL_36x26_ColourCirclesStrippedonBlackSoft

Colour Circles Stripped and Formed, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

For this piece I went back into my files and selected an alternate version of an earlier Colour Circles on Black, 2016 print. I printed this derivative 18” square and then sliced up that 18” square photo—that looked vaguely like the 3 foot version in this show—in a manner like Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed. This worked wonderfully. The combination of black and coloured strips curled into loops and formed into a ball make a very graphic photograph. This isn’t surprising to me. Although I’ve had a Fine Art education and I’ve been exposed to Contemporary art in a serious way for the past 20 years, part of my practice is definitely inspired and informed by graphic design work. In particular, novel and record jackets with a healthy dose of architecture and furniture design thrown into the mix.

WORKING_GardinerCircles1Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is a manipulation from a 2012 work—Brush, Gardner Expressway. The original piece was exhibited in Toronto for the show Wandering. That original edition was printed at 36? x 36? size, and with that, 3 smaller 12? squares that I considered artists proofs. I used those smaller 12” versions for these circling effects.

In 2013 when I had started working more in the studio I purchased a set of metal punches from eBay for stamping out rubber gaskets. I figured that if they could stamp out rubber gaskets, they could easily stamp out circles from photographic prints. Oddly enough I had no luck with those punches. Fast-forward to 2016 and I bought a small, twelve-dollar, Olfa knife, the design of which is based on a simple compass structure. These images were created with that simple tool.

9.FINAL_36x36_GardinerCirclesinaSquareBrush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print 36 X 36 in.

This is a derivative of Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016. That original image is made entirely of the circles that were cut out of an original square print. This image uses both the original desecrated print and the resultant circular pieces. This new piece was created because I felt that the print of just the circles was leaving something out, it was being untruthful to the viewer or at least suggesting something that I wanted to clarify. Here in Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 although the original print has been altered, the entire print is used in this version. I’m not really sure why this was important to me but it was. More and more I find myself not really knowing why, or not really knowing why at the time I create something, why I create it. After the fact though I can usually go back to each piece and understand where it came from, but it’s not always completely planned and executed. It’s becoming more spontaneous.

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Sky Crumpled, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I started crumpling in 2013. I tried to figure out how to engineer and build a crumpled piece of paper. Realizing that would be bordering on impossible I forgot about it for a while. While cleaning the studio one day I found a bunch of artist proofs. Feeling reckless and still thinking about crumples—I took the plunge and scrunched one up.  It was hard to do. Photographs hold a tangible power and it felt irreverent or criminal. Prints also cost money and it seemed like a bit of a waste. I soon got over those feelings and loved the results. This image for Sky Crumpled, 2016 was shot and printed intentionally to crumple up.  The resulting crumple was lit in the studio with a constant light source and shot it again, then enlarged and printed. The original photograph is 12” square.

This new body of work is ostensibly photography about photography and although it seems a rather abrupt change in direction for my work it developed rather slowly.

I’ve had a fairly short career making art. Although I’ve made things all my life and I’ve taken pictures for about 40 years, I’ve only been producing work, showing it and selling it for about 8 or 9 years. The majority of the work up to this point has been architecture based. In simple terms I take a lot of photographs of buildings and spaces.

Construct sets out to make things and to make those things I’m using photographs. More specifically I’m reconstructing photographs to be objects themselves. These constructed objects could be sculptures that stand on their own and are displayed as sculpture, but I’ve chosen to make them back into photographs. I like the permanence of that image, and I like the idea that they remain as the only record of a physical thing I’ve made.

To me these photographs are proof of things existing that only I’ve seen.

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Sliced

New show just might be Sliced, Crumpled, Shredded, Folded, and Scored photographs.

The only problem I’m having is why.

Initially this process of manipulations was about the willful destruction of a photograph. This is something that feels a little sacrilegious to me and I’m sure to others. Despite the nature of the digital image the physical photograph has an inherent value to me. Not just because I sell photographs, but also because of the history of the image itself and the memories it holds. One of the reasons I’m doing this is that it feels slightly wrong and that in itself feels strangely right. I’m destroying memory, or at least reconfiguring it.

This process is also about rebirth and redefinition. By taking an existing thing I’ve done and re-inventing it I’m creating something new out of something old. Without the pretentiousness or the mythology–this is sort of like the story of the Phoenix.

Repetition is soothing. I like endlessly cutting things into strips or shredding things. I like doing this manually when I could very easily use a machine or do the manipulation in Photoshop. There’s something deliberately archaic and anachronistic about the process. These are physical objects.

I’m also thinking of making these as 1 of 1s. The physical objects/subjects are 1 of 1s. Those physical objects are also sculptures. So I’m using photography to record a temporal sculpture.  The photographs are reminders of what was created. I was going to mount each of the sliced pieces, but the more I think about it the more I like the idea of them being fleeting. I may just pile all the strips in bags.

These photographs are also paradoxical. I’m re-arranging or reconfiguring memory by manipulating the original photographs and creating temporary sculptural pieces but I’m also recording those manipulated pieces of the past in new photographs. I think that explanation will have to be re-worded to make any sense. Hopefully when I re-read this I can figure it out enough to re-write.

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The aesthetic I’m very happy with–the what and the how. The more I write, the more I answer the why somewhat but maybe not enough to balance out the power of the aesthetic creation in my own head. I keep thinking that this work somewhat arbitrary when the images I’m using have a personal history but not a relationship to the process of manipulation. It’s half-baked. Without being cliche, perhaps there’s subject matter that I can specifically shoot then manipulate that will tie the aesthetic and the why together better. In a basic sense, clocks, or calendars might work. Something that represents the passage of time or the temporal. I’ve also thought of doing this with clouds. I like how the natural, or pseudo natural works in this process, better than how the architectural or man made does.

IMG_71248I think the answer lies in creating photographs of water, sky, forest, and nature, then re-imagining those photographs by folding, shredding, scoring, slicing, and folding.

Now, can I figure it out so it works completely in my head?

 

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Shredding

I took an existing 12″ x 12″ photographic proof from a series I shot a few years ago and deconstructed it. With a utility knife I sliced the print into the thinest strips I could manage. My guess is that shredding it ended up being about 300 strips that varied in width but all are around 1/2 mm wide. I then piled these on top of each other creating a rather cool little nest and then photographed the structure.

These images are close ups taken with a wide angle zoom lens of the shredded print—approximately 35mm—at a very large aperture creating a very short depth of field.

IMG_6944 IMG_6949 IMG_6950 With the same lens just widened to 17mm. All shot on a black paper background in my basement using a very simple lighting set up.IMG_6953 IMG_6982

Here’s the original photograph.

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These image below were the earlier versions, taken yesterday. I suspended the “nest” of strips on a piece of glass after shredding and shot these. This was also only 3/4 of the actual original print shredded. I like the new ones shot today.

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There’s something about taking an image that I thought was about something, then literally destroying it to creating something sculptural that I like a lot. These are the best part so far of a continuing story about appropriating my own work to make new “different” work.

It’s like the Phoenix. Rebirth of something out of destruction.

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Circular Horizon Line

Circular Horizon Lines are both a ten year journey back and a new way forward for me.

At the beginning of what I’ll call my Toronto productivity, I exhibited a series of horizon shots taken on the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Those were shot on an analog 35 mm and all were printed in a way that utilized the traditional negative ratio of 2:3.

I printed each photographs twice, the printer flipped the negative for one of each pair of images. The end result was two very similar images that were then framed side-by-side. The finished piece gave a mirror-like effect.

I liked that work, but I exhausted it quickly. The process felt a bit like manipulation for the sake of manipulation, or trickery to create something aesthetically pleasing.

Since that time I’ve changed. I’m now firmly invested in the 1:1 frame ratio. I’ve cropped square for about five years now and I’m still exploring the endless possibility of this restraint. I’m also fully digital now.

IMG_4453circular These current shots are all of Lake Huron just north of Goderich. I’ve been coming here and shooting the horizon in all types of weather for ten to fifteen years. The cottage that we use is 16 years old. It was built by my brother in the year I was married. The place is familiar. It takes a long time to get to know a place for me.IMG_4461circular I’m fascinated by circles. To me they’re a complicated extension of the square. I know that’s not really what a circle is in math terms. The circle is a logical development after a familiarity I’ve achieved with the square. It’s another restraint. The round format feels comfortable. Here, it also helps to make the images less familiar than a regular rectangular frame ratio would. It’s one of the steps I’ve taken to make these less about the image and more about the objects I hope to create.IMG_5853circular The angling of the prints is also another development. I’ve always been interested in the way we see. I’m always thinking about how we actually see things upside down and the brain turns them over so we comprehend things like they are. In a way it’s like the brain and the camera are related. In the simple pinhole or view camera the lens inverts the image as well. The angle is also simply rotation. It makes me think of a clock. I’ve toyed with the idea of making these pieces about the specific time I shoot them. I may try that in future.

Rotating these images plays with how these are seen and—like the circular crop—serves to remove a bit more of the original context of the image. It helps to emphasize the object over the image.
IMG_5875circular I plan to frame these in white traditional square frames at first. If they work well, I’d really like to explore getting custom round frames created, or even finding round frames. This series is me thinking about the paper “Specific Objects” by Donald Judd.IMG_4450circular I’m also very interested in how I process the work of a few artists that I really like. I sometimes feel like I came upon this Circular Horizon process all from my own head, but the truth is more likely that work that I appreciate and that resonates has influenced this process along the way. In specific I can see aspects of work by Rodney Graham, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Barnett Newman, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Andrew Wright to name a few. I’m sure there are others. IMG_4448circular

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The Book

The Book is an old project that I’ve finally got around to executing. Little steps. I have someone who’s interested in helping me produce it. If the project stays on course, and we think it will be compelling as it moves forward, it may be complete in two years.

Right now the book is 231, 3 x 5 inch index cards. Each card contains an idea or concept that was concieved in the last five years. Over the next weeks I’ll start to weed out the unrealistic thoughts, the ones that no longer resonate, or the unfocused ones. The goal is to end up with about 52 strong concepts for the book project.

We’ll start with those 52 ideas January 1st, 2016 and execute them over the course of the year while documenting. Each of the projects will become two pages. The idea page and the documentation page. Most likely that documentation will be a photograph. We were discussing 52 projects, one for every week of the calendar year but I’m not sure that we will stick with that plan. I do however like the idea of it becoming a project of projects. A piece in itself.

I’ve always wanted to do a book, and I’ve felt strangely unproductive over the last three years. This project helps me address both issues. I’ll produce a book and a large amount of work. I think I work better to deadlines, so I’m setting myself 52 of them.

This pic is the pile of index cards. I had to manually feed these into my printer one index card at a time. In itself this process felt like a performance.

The projects are primarily comprised of film, photography, sculpture, performance, text, audio and painting.

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  1. Open Cubes
  2. Blackness
  3. White
  4. Searching
  5. Circular
  6. Balance
  7. Pronouncement
  8. Foundation
  9. Crumple
  10. Behind Glass
  11. Projection
  12. Smoke
  13. Negative
  14. Rugs
  15. Nail
  16. Scenic
  17. Walls
  18. Boxed
  19. Signage
  20. Sculpture Room
  21. Night Life
  22. Flowers
  23. Dig
  24. Knitting
  25. Reflecting
  26. Narrative
  27. Etched
  28. Forensic
  29. Blinds
  30. Trust
  31. Leaving
  32. Carved
  33. ESP
  34. The Hole
  35. Kites
  36. The Tower
  37. Potential
  38. Proofs
  39. Still Life
  40. MRI
  41. Industry
  42. Watching
  43. Answers
  44. Glossolalia
  45. Winter
  46. Pools
  47. Chromatic Reading
  48. Fountain
  49. Tarps
  50. The Framer
  51. Paths
  52. Patterns
  53. Semaphore
  54. Garage
  55. Tunnelling
  56. Sleep
  57. Panic
  58. Pedestrian
  59. Paper
  60. Lights
  61. The Weight of Time
  62. Maze
  63. Circling
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Vancancies

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.

IMG_6294 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. IMG_6303 IMG_6307
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Aug 16, 2015

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.

IMG_6648cAfter the discovery I started to do specific, targeted searches for things like sky, water, red, black & white, and other terms to see if I could find even more interesting screen grabs.

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.

IMG_6701cgood As well as cropping I discovered I could rotate them and they looked very different. IMG_6723cgoodrotateI 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.IMG_6725cgood

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.

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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.

 

 

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Aug 12, 2015

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?

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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.
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Aug 9, 2015

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.

IMG_6040 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.IMG_6108 (1)
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Aug 8, 2015

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.

IMG_6004 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.IMG_6007Below 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. IMG_6030
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Aug 7, 2015

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.
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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.

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August 3, 2015

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.

IMG_5929 copyI 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.
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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. IMG_5936

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August 2, 2015

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?Horizon

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Untitled-1IMG_5852_2Also 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.IMG_5865We’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.

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July 18, 2015

July 18, 2015 I took my camera with me when I walked Stella. I look at this basketball court every morning and think “tomorrow I will bring my camera”. Well today I did. It’s an unremarkable basketball court in Carlton park. Maybe five years old. It is well used and my only complaint is that the people who do use it, just throw all their garbage around the perimeter everyday rather than putting it in the recycle or garbage can. Maybe that’s an old man’s beef. I just can’t imagine being so self-centred that you figure someone else will clean your mess up but I guess some people are.

There are four baskets on the asphalt perimeter. When no one is around in the morning I run Stella across the pavement in hopes to wear her claws down a bit. I also like the bounce the tennis ball gets from the surface and the way the dog is able to catch it after the first bounce in full stride. This is one of the moments in the day when I’m pretty happy. The dog is so elated to be simply running, and rolling and sniffing. I wish I was amused by that sort of simple routine. I am amused to watch her every morning. It’s a good start to the day.
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July 13, 2015

July 13, 2015 Found Albers. I’ve been reading Donald Judd’s short essay on Specific Objects. His work and theories are tied with Josef Albers and Dan Flaven. Two artists I like very much. On my way to work the other day I took my camera and stopped riding for a few minutes to take photographs. In a random pedestrian laneway somebody was throwing out a piece of masonite and a piece of painted plywood and had casually leaned both against a fence. The result was like one of Albers Homage to the Square works.

I have a small paperback by Albers called the Interaction of Colour that I’ve had for years. You can still buy it new on Amazon. This really doesn’t have much colour in common with any of those specific homage pieces, but the shape and layout is definitely similar.

I like the idea of found work. I search for it all the time.
IMG_5699This other shot is a continuation of my interest in vacant store fronts or offices. IMG_5704

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July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015 Sunday. On this scorching day I ventured off to the AGO for a quick visit. There’s a lot of work up I really like. Peter Doig, Elizabeth McIntosh, Frank Stella, Robert Motherwell, Stephen Andrews, Gerhard Richter, Kent Monkman, Francis Bacon, Brian Jungen, Christi Belcourt, and I’m sure I’m missing a few other favourites. It’s nice to go every weekend for a bit and hang out.

Here’s a found image that reminds me of the Thomas Demand series Dailies. This image doesn’t really look like any specific Demand piece, but generic coffee cups always look like constructs to me and remind me of this work. I love this image for the colours and the simplicity. The only drag was that when I shot this image I crouched to get the right angle and was assaulted by the smell of pure urine. Apparently this is a favourite pissing doorway. Such a perfect shot for me, but I can see this being problematic for others. The colour, composition, and naturally occurring sculptural aspects of things like this are magic to me.

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Inside the AGO looking up through the central courtyard and out the skylights. In the haze you can see the outline of the central blue structure that holds the 5th floor contemporary galleries.IMG_5673 On Dundas Street West just west of the Go/UP/Via train tracks and before you hit the No Frills at Lansdowne is this weird rental place situated beside a wreckers yard. This is the facade of the building between those two businesses.IMG_5665

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July 10, 2015

July 10, 2015 I finally got new walking shoes. I ended up with canvas Blundstones and I hope they live up to the build and quality of the regular version. They weigh about a million times less and seem to breath more than their clunky but lovable siblings. The initial trial run yesterday went without a hitch until I spilled Gelato on them at the Junction Night Market.

The Wallace Walk condo development by our house is going to be nice when it’s complete. It will drastically change the area but I look at this as a very good thing. The more people, the better.  It’s the first time I’ve looked at the website and it’s pretty funny. Marketing really is a job with no shame. The image below is a view from the bridge that crosses what are now the GO/UP/VIA tracks from Wallace to Dundas West. Looking down and a weird angle. Ladder obsession.IMG_5537 IMG_5572 IMG_5582Back to my circles and squares in the studio. Here I’m fooling around in hopes to capture the kernel of an idea for a painting. I have a sneaking suspicion the idea might be a dud. Oh well, typically it will morph into something else and that’s always a good thing.IMG_5630A shot through the window into the space of the 8-11 collective on Spadina. I’m assuming it’s between exhibitions or they’ve moved. They no longer have a sign up and but that might be a result of the possible legal hassle such a sign might have caused. I love this space right now in it’s very-nearly-empty state. It may however be interesting to see the chaise lounge box become animated with the infusion of electricity.IMG_5645More studio ideas. I found two boxes of analog photo filters. There are a ton of various sized sheets in this and another smaller box. I’m experimenting with a possible series but for now the box itself is fascinating for it’s potential in a Joseph Albers meets dead analog process kind of way.IMG_5648

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July 7, 2015

July 7 2015. Jill sent me an article and photo of Donald Judd’s New York City home at 101 Spring Street. We’ve looked at it before and I remember being mesmerized. I admire his work and the other artist I associate with him, Dan Flavin. I think they have had a huge impact on what I do. Dan Flavin’s fluorescent light work in particular. He was doing that work when I was just entering the world.

This made me think of a piece I could do if I had the patience. Based on sound instead of light. Very simple. I could set up speakers and motion detectors in a room. When a person enters they would hear footfalls and maybe whispering but these sounds would always be moving away from them, triggered and controlled by the motion sensors. These voices and footfalls could move across the floor or up into the ceiling and behind walls. Basically create  ghosts with sound engineering. They could even talk about the work itself or directly discuss the piece itself.

Donald Judd might have be a jerk for all I know, but I’d have liked to meet him.

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July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015 was a beautiful day. I wandered around close to home taking photographs. It’s amazing how much I seem to see in a place I’ve seen so many times. I began to doubt that I was capturing anything worthwhile, but then decided to keep going and shoot what I felt like shooting. I seem to be getting more shots I keep lately. Maybe I’m just being more self indulgent than usual.

A few years ago our community was getting a new condo development called Giraffe. We were excited because it would have been a contemporary/environmental build and stood to revitalize the corner of Dundas West and Bloor. The developer ran into difficulty. I bet a lot of people lost a lot of money and never got new homes plus the entire north west block at Bloor and Dundas is empty. The superficial marketing facade for Giraffe is falling off, and the whole place is just a derelict, dirty waste of space. This window in the image below use to be the street facing display of the sales office. The brown paper installed after the project died has crumpled in on itself. I cropped in the ratio of large format frame size 4:5. There’s something I like about the awkwardness in this image.IMG_5471Across from the abandoned Giraffe block is a huge dental office. It sits in the bottom of a very brutalist tower. I try not to look up because it’s so depressing. The only thing that could help this place would be a demolition. Despite this I’m obsessed with tired looking vertical blinds and the main floor has a lot of them. They actually seem to be working better than most vertical blinds. I like these in particular for the simple geometric abstraction, the symmetry between blinds, the reflection on the glass from across the street and the different shadows that are cast on each element of the blind. IMG_5473The backside of orange, wooden, construction signs draws me in lately. Here the sign and it’s wooden support are in front of a newish hydro pole. The grass is super healthy with all the rain we’ve been getting so the colours work nicely here. Note: this is taken on a downward and off center angle. I’m getting more comfortable with asymmetry and and less interested in perfect alignment.IMG_5439Inside a vacant dry cleaner, from outside through the window. Peg board and concrete. I remember it as being more blue, but this is close.IMG_5499Places like this one below fascinate me. This is the embankment wall of an overpass for the subway train to travel on across from High Park. This is just east of High Park station. I assume the cream colour block of paint is covering up some graffiti. Hopefully just tagging because graffiti to me is better than blank concrete. Tagging is a from of vandalism that to me is the lowest of the low. Say something, even if it’s stupid. Tagging is just arrogance and self interest. It’s boring and useless. The only thing tagging does is create these swaths of paint that I find interesting.IMG_5505In the Bloor West Village this is part of the facade of the No Frills and what I’m guessing is the back side of a no parking sign.IMG_5514

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July 4, 2015

July 4. 2015 and I made another trip into the Junction with the goal of re-shooting these vertical blinds in the window of a lawyers office. One of these photographs might be my first painting, but I’m not 100% convinced. I do however think I’ve found something else to obsess about through photography. I can imagine myself finding other windows like these but with different colour vertical blinds. Or maybe they blinds will be interesting enough when just closed differently creating differing thickness and shades of lines.IMG_5418 While shooting these I thought I might construct these sort of scenes if I could get hold of manufacturer samples of vertical blinds. Either that or I could visit some vertical blind store and ask to take pictures of different configurations of blinds. but that’s gonna be a pretty strange ask. in the end this might just be a ling term project and I can shoot the blinds when I find them.IMG_5423It’s not as simple as it seems. For one the windows need to be old school display windows, and the blinds need to be in a mid ground area in those windows. I’m not sure how to describe this properly, but these sorts of windows are all over the city, but mostly in older places. Secondly the blinds can’t be properly closed. They need to be offhandedly shut in a way that ensures some of the slats are not lined up in a symmetrical and organized fashion. I’m sure I’ll figure out other criterion as well, but for now this should work and I should be able to find a lot of places that have these.IMG_5425I can totally see these as abstract hard masked paintings. There would be a randomness to the spacing of the lines that I like.

Maybe this is simply about what I find aesthetically pleasing. I don’t find that a problem.

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July 3, 2015

July 3, 2015 was spent almost entirely in the Collingwood Marine and General Hospital with my mom. She was getting some tests done, so I had some time to kill. The following shots are all from that adventure.

All are taken on with my iphone and all—with the exception of the weird circular white thing—in the small, ten person waiting room for patients waiting for CT and Bone scans.

I thought of these as studies for paintings. Minimalist templates to create geometric abstractions with paint.

This first one is some sort of nuclear medicine machine. At least I think it is. It was in the same room as the full body bone scan. The smoothness of the circle and the shadowing appear painterly in real life. I could paint this exactly as I saw it.IMG_6101Below is a photograph of the junction between the ceiling and drape from the same room as above. The blackness in this shot works very nicely juxtaposed with the brightness from the fluorescent light fixture. You can’t even see the cheap foam ceiling titles because they are underexposed.IMG_6098Stacked hospital gowns. If there has ever been a more cruel garment manufactured and used in such abundance, let me know.IMG_6118Meeting of the ceilings in the hallway outside the waiting room.IMG_6121A light fixture in the ceiling of the waiting room.IMG_6113Drapery and wall with exterior light.IMG_6125The point where the waiting room floor meets the rear panel of the changing cubicle and one of my favourite shots of the day. I wish I had taken my actual camera out and shot these in high resolution files. I’m really fond of this whole series.IMG_6115

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July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015 I ventured into the Junction. I’ve shot there countless times but not for a long time with any success. I simply wandered and tried not to think about what I wanted to shoot. I found some things of interest in a place that I thought might be exhausted.

The Junction has continued to gentrify at an outrageous pace. That’s not the worst thing, and hopefully a sparkling new Shoppers Drug mart or Tim Horton’s is still a long way off. You can always tell a neighbourhood has reached the tipping point when those sort of places look to set up shop. By then the tastemakers, artists and generally interesting folks have up and left, replaced by the suburban Proctor and Gamble eating hoards.

I find the illusion that happens in the shot below interesting, how the  two dimensional wall mural merging with the discarded carpet roll. The deteriorating plaster to the right side of the frame helps to make sense of what’s happening.IMG_5344On the rail path this is the fence that surrounds a now vacant Toronto Hydro yard. It use to  have a bunch of odds and ends strewn around but they did a major clean. Now it’s virtually empty. I’m not sure what they plan on doing with it, but now the place is derelict. I liked the jumble and chaos of this scene. IMG_5365 Here below is a side wall of a restaurant on Dundas West east of Keele. IMG_5355This is the front window of what was once a retail store and now is someone’s house or apartment. Every now and then they change up a slapdash installation in the window. This time I chanced upon it there was this cool button “I FEEL GOOD ALL OVER” and to the right of it was an old school globe. I didn’t like the shot of the globe, so I kept the shot of the button. IMG_5324 More weird stuff on Dundas West. Just some pipes in front of a store front. I’m pleased with myself for breaking my straight on shooting habit.IMG_5305The reflection from across the street on Dundas west of a strange art decco style building before you enter the Junction proper before Keele. Across the street from the reflected building is another sort of deccoish building that is the Salvation Army.IMG_5299The hoarding for the in construction condo building that’s going up where McBride Cycle used to be once upon a time. These will be called The Duke. I imagine they’ll be quite nice, however the marketing makes me fairly sick.IMG_5292Vertical blinds in a lawyer’s office beside The Sweet Potato oganic food market.IMG_5312 I just uploaded everything that was worthwhile from today’s walk. I’ll elaborate a bit more later. Suffice to say I’m thinking about painting and lines/hard edges.

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June 27, 2015

June 27 2015 is the day I decided to figure out Photoshop a bit better. Not to do things with photographs but to create templates or plans for paintings like this one that could be done 48 x 48. It makes sense that these would be 1 of 1s.  I just need to get some wet sandpaper, a tack cloth and some titanium white paint now.2x4 PhotoshopI’m beginning to feel I need some computer skills or perhaps take courses to complete/work out what I want to do. I can struggle away using my present everyday ineffective process to create or I can get more adept at things like indesign and illustrator. Might not be a bad idea for me to go back to school. In the meantime maybe I’ll see if I can pay designer friends to show me things on a project-by-project basis.

The other image  I’m thinking about is a series of single lines that move across the canvas from black to white using differing opacities or percentages of black/white. Again I can plan this in Photoshop but execute in acrylic paint. The idea is to get to a photographic or airbrush type gradient but I would execute it in hard edge painting techniques. This is part of my ongoing interest in repetitive process and mundane almost robotic actions.

It’s June 28 2015 now not June 27 2015.

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June 24, 2015

June 24, 2015 So I thought I’d better start to move on the painting thing. I threatened several times in posts and mentioned to a few people that I’d be trying it.

I have two wood surfaces ready. I bought 30 x 30 wooden, pre-made panels and I’ve primed these with several layers of gesso. I’ve sanded both and I think I have the surface ready to work. They’re nice just as they are and I find them a good subject for photographs. I’m probably just afraid of them so I think about photographing them.

Here’s one, face down on my work table with a black paper backdrop in the background. IMG_5251I also took a photograph today at my day job office. The picture below is rotated 90 degrees. The black area on the right is carpet, the darker beige beside that is the front of a drywall curb, the lighter beige the top of that “curb”. The area on the right is wall. The area you can’t see between the top of the curb and the wall contains a fluorescent light fixture. I like this composition as an easy start. I bet it will be far from easy.IMG_5225Now I just have to buy my paint, and learn how to use it. I have several rolls of Home Depot masking tape for house painting. I also have some instructions from the Golden Acrylic website.

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June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015. Sunday, Father’s Day. This post is really yesterday and today. Saturday I walked and today I took the bike out with a definite destination in mind. There were other things to see as well. The first two images were taken in the Junction on Saturday. The whole area was getting ready for the Summer Solstice Festival so the curb lanes where cars are usually parked had been blocked off in preparation for the street closing.

The first image is the base of a city road sign and the asphalt. I liked that the rest of the metal frame Is echoed in the a shadow across the base. To me this portrays the power of light and ability to bend in such a way. Colour yellow is nice as well.IMG_5117This metal billboard skeleton was my first destination. Since the picture a few posts ago of the AGO interior I’ve been thinking about this billboard scaffolding structure and others like it. How it could be another potential painting subject. It was little difficult shoot on such a steep upward glancing angle, I had to crop the original image rather drastically, but this frame works for me for a template for painting.IMG_5119I’ve taken pictures of this place over the years. It’s never had anything in it that I remember, but it’s been freshly renovated to sell or lease. That renovation includes a circular window in this the West facing wall. It’s on the north side of Dupont just east of Spadina. Very close to the Magic Oven cardboard pizza place and the liquor store. In the desolation that is the back parking lot there’s a large city recycling bin and beside there is the largest collection of liquor store paper bags you’ve ever seen.

That said the side window is rather special. It’s slightly tacky with the stucco wall. For some reason I detest stucco wall treatments. Maybe because I can picture the Styrofoam underneath and the technique feels so superficial and so pedestrian and suburb like. The glass faces another building which might actually be the pizza place-associated apartments. The whole time I was shooting I was waiting for some resident to tell me to fuck off from one of the shitty windows that some cheap bastard used to replace the originals.IMG_5162Inside the same, vacant, newly renovated, weirdly attractive building that somebody will rent for some weird store. This is taken through the circular window pictured above.IMG_5164This was my original destination on the Sunday. I had planned to take a picture of an exterior wall that had a nice square chunk jack hammered out of it and backed with plywood however there was a car parked in front of it and when I framed the spot I thought I had liked it didn’t work well enough to press the shutter. I could however see indie through the super-dirty windows and I liked the nice linear layout of the raw framing and the way the light played inside. This reminds me very much of one of the first photographs I took through glass. That image was of a a building on the Dundas West/Roncessvalle transition curve that was a Bank of Montreal then was converted into the existing Starbuck store. I particularly like how the electrical hangs at a nice angle from the top left of the frame and the play of cinder block grey against the wood framing browns.IMG_5170Another shot of that building that’s being renovated on Avenue Road, just North of Dupont. The Skylight here brings a nice glow to the setting.

The windows really were really remarkably dirty. I always get a kick how easy it is to clean them up and make the images relatively crisp by simply playing with the levels and curves in Photoshop. IMG_5181Just south of the interior shots on Avenue road is Del Luca Fine Art pictured below. The gallery appears to have moved, or is in the process of moving. TBCIMG_5182 IMG_5190

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June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 —Thursday—and this Thursday I felt like relaxed in the morning so left the bicycle and walked to work. At least part way. I made it 11 km of the 17 km journey with camera in hand. I’m happy with the found things along the way. I like these shots. I may not feel that way in a few days.

It’s strange how the thought process can change overnight after being bizarrely consistent for years.

I’ve been thinking about the language of art a lot as well. I’m toying with the term social realism and figuring out how to talk about it in conjunction with a formalist approach to photography and an interests in post painterly abstraction. Then it occurs to me that all this rhetoric is a waste of time. It only make me appear smart and frankly I’m sick of people writing about art. I’m sick of the big words and the smug motivations.

A shot through a window. An old—soon to be extinct—incandescent bulb in an empty shop front on Dupont Street just west of Symington. IMG_4979Further along Dupont, just west of Lansdowne the image below was taken from the street, through the scaffolding of the hoarding/plywood that envelopes the building. Dupont is at my back. This could be a painting. I tried a shallower depth of field. It’s not usually a technique I like, but for a painting could work nicely. IMG_4985St Clair West, I think this is around Christie. It’s definitely before I got to Bathurst. Something tells me this is a very pedestrian photograph. No pun intended. At the time I saw this as a remarkable assemblage of negative and positive space. Now after a few days of looking it might be edging more to the unremarkableIMG_5028Around the same spot on St Clair. A shot looking at the side wall of a temporary patio tent attached to a restaurant. It may be a restaurant that’s gone out of business. I wasn’t focusing on that. I just liked the complexity of the reflection, the landscape and the table and stool focus, and how they get framed by the movie theatre style strips of black at the top and bottom of the frame.IMG_5051Just a little west of Avenue Road this building is a bit too symmetrical for words and this photograph as a result is a bit too clean for my liking. A bit too balanced. It’s interesting though that I’ve begun to look up and the perspective doesn’t get me all wiggly. In the past I’d never take a shot like this unless I could get directly across from the subject to avoid the inevitable foreshortening that occurs when the camera isn’t level.IMG_5062Squares, still obsessed with squares. Frames within frames. This piece would make a convincing painting. If the shapes and colours are simplified it might work. It’s pleasing me now though as a photograph. Signs are bizarre from behind. IMG_5067The predominance of discarded clothing in the city is insane. There are so many thing left or disposed of on any given day. We have a park by our house and every morning there’s some article of clothing just hanging  around by itself with no owner in sight. Again, like the orange square above, this could make an interesting painting if distilled into the shapes and lines that make up it’s crumpled pile.IMG_5071Nearer the end of the trip on Yonge Street just above St Clair this retail frontage has been empty for years but apparently it’s being fixed up. With all my thoughts about painting lately this seemed fortuitous. It may be one of my favourite images of the day. There’s the paint brush for one thing, but the reflection of the sidewalk in the glass aided by the dark coloured carpet of the interior is really interesting as well. Add to that the awesome silver perpendicular that bisect the strip of carpet and the reflection in the glass of the sidewalk. Angles, lines, colour, reflections, it all works for me.IMG_5091 Finally, lens flare that I liked and almost seems planned.IMG_5103

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June 9, 2015

June 9, 2015. I’m working with Photoshop to create templates for paintings. I’ll keep going until I get something I like and I can execute in acrylic with hard masking.

These come from 20 directions all at once. The main inspiration is a photograph I took on my iPhone looking out from the Frank Ghery designed AGO facade. This got me thinking about geometric abstraction. While working it out I’ve tried to be aware–and to understand–where these ideas comes from and what they all mean. So in no special order;

The square is a wonderful form, it makes me comfortable and I see it everywhere. I compose photographs in my head in square format, I crop them from 2:3 to 1:1 almost every time I process. I like the limitations and boundaries of the square.

Then there’s other artist work. Other photography, hard line painting and the geometric post painterly abstractionists from the second half of the 20th century in particular; Mondrian, Ellsworth Kelly, Bernd and Hilla Becher via Idras Khan, Tammi Campbell, Claude Tousignant, Joseph Albers, etc.

I’ve worked in photography all my life. These new experiments remind me of X-rays or black & white negatives piled on top of each other. In fact that’s a new idea that could be an extension or even the basis for this work. I can produce this work by creating different acetates in all different black fill percentages and fool around making pseudo sculptural pieces that I then photograph to get to the same place I’m heading with the paintings.

I’m interested in simplifying. My photography is also heavily influenced line and shape. I think of my photographs as found paintings. This process I’m working with retains that interest while further reducing and removing any reference to a narrative subject. I’m moving from taking pictures of places to creating places to take pictures of.

The monochromatic nature of this work is more about photography itself than reduction, but I can see these “constructions” working in colour as well as black and white.

There’s a neat math proof that I discovered a few years ago about something called the square of squares. This is always in my head and certainly comes through a bit in this work.

Stephen Andrews retrospective at the AGO also contained a series of “mirror” paintings that he created that have stuck in my head as well. Likewise seeing a Richard Storms exhibition at Robert Birch a few months ago has really resonated.

There are other directions and other thoughts that are contributing to the creation of this work but I think you can get the idea from the above. I’m less of an artist and more of a kitchen blender.

Painting 2Painting 3
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Painting

I took a picture from inside the AGO on my iPhone last week. Now I’m obsessed with the image for several reasons. This is what it looks on my phone.IMG_0177I’ve thought about it everyday since and I’d like to paint it. I’m sure that’s infinitely more difficult than I can imagine. After all, part of the reason I work in photography is that my painting skills are pretty lame.  I’m stoked to make the attempt though.

I’ve taken the original image and made it monochromatic. I also applied a paintbrush texture across it in Photoshop. This is sort of how I want it to look when painted. Now to acquire the skills.1397300_1025011197526311_2091368029253589147_oI’ve also got a desire to go back to the AGO and shoot it again but with my actual camera. Maybe I can get a colour photograph that doesn’t have to be translated into black & white to be effective. I’ve also been thinking about shooting more images like this and trying to abstract them a bit more into pure line and shape in Photoshop.

For some reason this brings to mind Ayn Rand. I haven’t thought much about her writing since I was in high school. I’m not in line with her Objectivism philosophy. I’m thinking about the Fountainhead, not Atlas Shrugged, maybe its simply the architectural connotations in that book that bring her to mind.

 

 

 

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Underground

Announcement_2B

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Feature Exhibition 

May 1st-31st, 2015
Opening Reception & Artist Talk May 2nd, 2-4p.m.
Bau-Xi Photo
324 Dundas Street West, Toronto
contact:

Julie Watt

Nell Crook

416.977.0400

info@bau-xiiphoto.com

www.bau-xiphoto.com

Bau-Xi Photo preview images for the show.

As a continuation of his acclaimed subway series that began with ‘Transitions’ in 2007 and ‘Waiting’ in 2010, Underground is an exciting revival of the subject that introduced Shepherd to the Canadian art scene. Encompassing imagery from his most recent exploration of both the Toronto and Montreal subway systems, the work is unified by the artist’s signature approach to lighting, composition and form.

Submerged from view in both Montreal and Toronto, the subways of each metropolis weave, burrow, anchor and nourish the structures and urban life aboveground. Montreal’s metro is the third busiest network in North America — behind only New York and Mexico. Toronto’s subway is a close second in size to Montreal, moving fewer people but reaching more stations than it’s Francophone sister. Underground is an exploration of both city’s subterranean networks, but rather than capturing the frenetic activity of each system, Shepherd instead turns our attention to the fleeting moments between the perpetual cycle of arrivals and departures; the ignored hallways, staircases, platforms, mezzanines, tunnels and inanimate skeleton of the transit lines. Each image depicts quiet details of the everyday, resonating with a silent beauty that transforms the utilitarian spaces into painterly tableaus of contemplation. Shepherd describes his compositions as ‘”temporal blips in the consistent hustle and bustle of everyday life.” As part of an ongoing study, the images are inherently bound to the archives of each city, serving to document and re-document the chronological life-span of the spaces as they continually adapt to the changing needs of the urban-dweller.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Chris Shepherd began his artistic practice as a painter and studied art history, film and artistic practice at Ryerson, Waterloo and McMaster Universities. After moving to Toronto, he turned to photography as a means to familiarize himself with his new city. It was this process of exploration that piqued Shepherd’s interest in urban landscapes and led to a long-running fascination with the often passed-over or under-appreciated elements of metropolitan life. The serenity and reserve of Shepherd’s photographs often contrast with the locations they are depicting. Shepherd captures fleeting moments in time, whether they be a brief moment of quiet in the perpetual cycle of arrivals and departures in the subway, or the fallow vacancy between tenants in commercial buildings.

Shepherd’s art has been exhibited across North America, and is included in major corporate collections in Canada including Seneca College, TD Bank and Bank of Montreal.

 

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Braille 2015

Braille 2015 is a project thats been on my mind for several years and involves photographic images and Braille text. The idea is to take photographs and covert them into Braille descriptions and display those coded pages as if they were the photograph. This will hide the image from the sighted and introduce it to the sightless. I’d like to show my work to the visually impaired community and start discussions about photography and what I think is contemporary art with them.

I’d also like to open discussions about what an image really is, and how we interact with it. This also allows my work to viewed in a completely different manner.

There are aspects of accessibility here of course, but there’s also aspects of the piece that could introduce discussion about gallery space and how it’s used, as well as typical gallery and conservation rules.

Of course these would be about photography first and foremost.

I’ll have to fist chose photographs. I’ll select a new series of images from what has been calling “Wandering”. Wandering are images taken in various pedestrian adventures, typically in Toronto. I haven’t taken all of these yet, but there are a few that I have in the bank that I have not shown from the last year.

Then I have to write descriptions for the visually impaired or fully sightless. There are examples on how to write about art for the visually impaired on the internet and I can use those as a guide. I’ll probably then get someone to copy edit them, and check for any glaring grammatical errors. I’ll use Contracted Braille. That’s the most common form of Braille, and to do this I’ll have to get my written English descriptions transcribed by a Braille transcriber. The most appropriate size of Braille document would replicate the size of the print, and I think I’ve settled on 36″ x 36″. To fill a 36″ x 36″ inch space with regular 8.5 x 11″ paper and 12 point font text would look like this and take 12 sheets of regular size paper. If 1 sheet of 12 point font text translates to 2 pages of contracted Braille text, I estimate the plain text descriptions should be 6 pages long to fill 1 sheets of 8.5 x 11′ paper or approximately my 36 x 36″ square.Braile EstimateSo I’ll write the descriptions that are 6 pages long and translate into 12 pages of Contracted–or grade 2–Braille on sheets of 8.5 x 11″ Braille paper. When I get them transcribed I’ll also ask for Word versions of the Braille if that’s possible.

The next step is to translate those 12 pages of 8,5 x 11″ Braille to one big sheet of 36 x 36″ inch heavy weight archival art paper. I’m probably end up using a some cotton sheet, either a watercolour page or something like Stonehenge or some other drawing paper. To do this I need to fabricate an extra large Braille slate. The images below show standard Braille slates. IMG_4491 IMG_4502So each of these slates can take up to a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of Braille paper. They open like a book, hinged on one side. You insert the paper and close it. Then you can create the raised dots of Braille in each cell. Each cell has an opening that allows access to the paper, and a series of six indentations under the paper that guide the stylus into one of those six spots that denote individual letters. I originally planned to cut and join 12 of these plastic standard slates, but now I plan to get a CNC router technician to plot, program and manufacture a top and bottom “slate” section based on the standard slates, but that is 48, 48″ inches in size. It will have thousands of cells.

I can then take the transcribed paragraphs and painstakingly create large 36 x 36″ documents out of them.

These would end up being 3 foot squares of raised dots, that could be read by a Braille Reader, describing  a photographic image. These would be framed in floating frames with no glass to allow the tactile nature of Braille to be “read”. There would also be a corresponding standard 12 page of Braille associated with each piece that would be easier for a Braille reader to read in the standard manner, rather than touching the art.

The other question is will I actually display the photographs each of the Braille pieces is describing. I haven’t decided this yet. I’ve toyed with the idea of making the images available in a catalogue that works with the standard Braille sheets. I’ve also thought about making the images available on line and people could access them after they looked at the code view a QR code or something. Part of me also wants to include English translations of the Braille. Whatever I decide the goal feels like, it’s going to be about inconveniencing the sighted. I’d like them to imagine the photographs from the descriptions and then look at the images and see how the two “object” differ.

I think this will be expensive to create the large Braille slate that I would use to create all the work. The translation would be fairly costly as well. I’ve contemplated finding a gallery to exhibit the work, then applying for a Canada or Ontario Arts council grant and then executing so I don’t a) loose my short, or b) have no where to show the work.

I see these pieces initially at either Gallery 44, Gallery TPW, or maybe even the Mississauga or Hamilton Art Galleries. I see them morphing from English into French and then other languages. Braille isn’t a language, it’s a system of code, and can be used to write any language that is based on a standard character set. So I can see this having relevance in other countries.

I also see this as being a plus for many galleries who most likely have accessibility mandates, either through the Trillium Grant system or through some other form of Government grants. Who knows, maybe there’s a grant I can access to create the work

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Sick Kids

Wandered over to Sick Kids today to visit a bored but very awesome little ten year old. On the way I took these two images on what turned out to be a very grey day.

Scaffolding and tarps on the new town houses being built very close to us, and a fairly old building on the south west corner of University and College.IMG_44512

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Salt

I shot this image about ten years ago, but I’ve got better equipment and my eye has changed a bit so I came back to it.

These are the stairs I traverse everyday on my way to and from almost anywhere. In winter they lace them with so much rock salt that they completely transform into a weird birch tree like colour. You can glimpse the street below and the colours of the graffitified  support structure in some of the shots.

One of the following images is my normal view, the other two are rotated so the idea of the steps disappears. IMG_4376IMG_4388IMG_4387

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Sunlight

I’m fixated on Sunlight. I’m not sure where and when this began, but the ancient bottles of hand washing soap are intriguing me lately. I’ve bought a few and started fooling around with them.

There are two sizes. The smaller size has a traditional label that’s stuck onto the container in the manufacturing process. The larger has screen printed  graphics applied directly to the plastic bottle.

My original thinking was that these would play a part in a still-life project I’m working on that plays with the deceptive nature of photography in a post-Photoshop world. These still-life projects would involve protracted analog procedures set up to mimic simple Photoshop effects. The first one I’m continually planning and thinking about is to paint objects to resemble their monochromatic Photoshop versions or in plainer english paint stuff in black and white and then shoot it in colour, the result will “look” black & white. I’ve been planning this in response to some recent debates and my own feelings about the belief some photographers have, that black and white prints immediately suggest that the work in question is artistic.

This first pair of images are a study for the end project. The monochromatic version of the bottle in the second image is achieved by removing the colour saturation of the original image in Photoshop. The plan is to print this Photoshopped photograph and then use that as a tonal guide to paint the actual yellow bottle in grey-scale to match. Then I’d photograph the painted object again in colour and print that. The result will be an object painted black and white but depicted in a colour photograph.IMG_4040IMG_4040GSThis project will be better without the labels. I think everyone can tell what the object is without the branding. Below is an image of the smaller bottle with the label removed which works well. The second image below is the larger bottle. I can’t just paint in acrylic over the existing label. I tried that and acrylic paint just doesn’t stick to plastic so the shot below shows me applying a gesso base that I hope will prepare the surface of the plastic to accept the yellow, and then black and white paint better.

Stay tuned to this gripping story as it progresses.IMG_4087 IMG_4096

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The End of 2014

The end of 2014 or the year of construction. Our neighbourhood has been marked by major infrastructure and housing projects but I feel like were not the only ones. There’s major renovation going on at the corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville with Yorkville Plaza. When I check it out on Google Maps and think about it, that construction has been happening for 2 or 3 years.  The shots below are of the old sales office and a close to completed doorway.IMG_4127 IMG_4124In the Junction Triangle we’ve been besieged by both the UP railway line construction and a major townhouse development. The orange tarps cover the work being done on the rail bridge across Bloor at the Bloor Go Station which will double as an UP Station.  IMG_4106I will be pretty happy to see the end of these railway ties. The smell of creosote is crazy strong every time you walk by them. I do however think they look pretty neat stacked up like this.IMG_4101Also, found: one right handed pink latex glove. If someone was washing up on the path and lost this I can tell you exactly where it is. It’s nestled snuggly on the West Toronto  Rail Path surrounded by aging dog feces. Word.IMG_4105

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December 2014

For some reason the first day of shooting in a month saw me searching out walls, floors, and objects in a creepy sort of series of found sculptures.

I had taken a vacation day form work and dropped off some work that sold in a recent auction. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when that happens. When things sell at auction. Despite the fact that I’m donating the work and the cost is all mine, it’s nice to see things sell. The latest fundraiser was Gallery TPW’s Photorama. I’ve been donating for about seven years. This year was the gallery’s most successful event ever. It’s also the first show in their new home– a home I imagine they’ll be in for the next 20 years. It’s on St. Helen’s Avenue in a row of repurposed industrial units that includes Daniel Feria and Clint Roenisch Galleries. The space is amazing even in it’s unfinished state. The shot below is of the main gallery space with it’s 18 foot high ceiling. The plywood on the floor was affixed to the walls in a strip around the perimeter of the space and the donated works were hung on that plywood. In future if anyone is looking to purchase lens-based work, at very reasonable prices, this is the place to do it You can get a feel for the work they’re selling here on the Photorama 2014 page of The Toronto Photographer Workshop’s website.IMG_3914There are a row of store fronts–maybe five or even six–that contain a cabinetmaking business and have done for at least fifteen years. I’ve shot through the windows of one or two of them on occasion. It finally looks like they are downsizing a bit. They most likely own the buildings and leasing one or two is going to bring them in a lot of money. Ossington could use a few more restaurants as well. Seriously there must be fifty restaurants and bars on that strip now. The “for lease” sign has fallen out of the window and onto the floor. The tiles on the wall silhouette what I’m guessing once would have been a kitchen cabinet display, and the floor is simply awesome, even though it’s not trying to be.

Sometimes I think that my image making has slowed down because the city has gentrified so much. I find fewer and fewer places that reverberate with the past in a way that I’m interested in capturing. It’s not a bad thing, but I find this type of history more interesting than pristine, immaculate, well designed interiors.

I’ve also been thinking about art lately. I’d like to think of myself as an artist, but maybe I’m more of a documenter. Photography for me is about recording things that others don’t see and that will never exist again. Maybe I’m an artist in other mediums.IMG_3921Further down Ossington it started to sink in. I like things leaning against walls. I like stuff on floors and the horizon line between floors and walls. I like found art. This image below reminded me of a Twitter post from a very cool artist/mathematician/architect. He’s got a blog that’s mostly art openings/exhibitions mixed with his own work and he throws some interesting math stuff in. The blog can be found here at Monochromatic-Axonometric. He once found a door and posted the pic on Twitter, so in the shot below I was answering him back. The door conversation could go on indefinitely in the city, only eclipsed by the mattress conversation. Tumblr maybe? I’m sure several exist.

I also notice weird things about photographs. In this shot below the door appears larger on the right end. That’s simply because the right end is closer to the lens by virtue of it being further from the wall. Although I’m drawn to horizontals and verticals, the uniformity of those is impossible to achieve. Its an imperfect world thank goodness.IMG_3926Further down Ossington is a cigar manufacturing place.. at least they have something to do with cigars. They might just be a wholesaler or something. I’m sure they still have a clientele, but its hard to imagine they wont sell soon to realise the huge real estate demand on this strip.

This is the building’s north wall, painted to resemble a tobacco field. Admirably realistic but sadly in need of a touch up. The single palette resting against the foreground of the landscape made me laugh. It’s pedestrian and understandable but it completely destroys the illusion of the wall mural. IMG_3933Still further south and east, in the alley south of Queen Street that runs parallel to it I found the next two shots. The graffiti in this area is pretty spectacular in and of itself, but as a subject doesn’t really interest me. I mean I enjoy looking at it, and its more art than some art is, but as a photographic subject it doesn’t work for me. Combine the colours and pattern though with an absurd collection of used and useless bicycle tires and inner tubes and viola. It’s now sort of funny, or engaging to me.

I had to really push myself not to get down to take a straight on shot. The expositorial thing is so ingrained in me that I find anything that shows weird up/down perspective disturbing and although it’s only slightly distorted because of the downward angle I shot on, I still want to go back, crouch down and capture it with perpendicular verticals. IMG_3959 IMG_3971

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Montreal Subway

The Montreal subway (Metro) has been on my list of things to shoot for several years. In the past I’ve shot the Toronto and New York systems. In the future plans are to hit London and Paris. It seems London is quite possible, I’ve figured out how to get a permit there. Now I just have to manage the time off work and the finances.

Below: Mont Royal Platform and Newspaper (Orange Line)IMG_3244I’ve processed some of the results from two days of exploring Montreal’s Metro in this post. It’s a beautiful place, and I already want to go back. Luckily the flu didn’t seem to impact my ability to take photographs. I’m quite happy with the results. I’ll live with this long list for a bit, maybe adding and subtracting from it with the goal of coming up with 10 images I’m willing to print at 48 x 48″.

Below: Champs-de-Mars Platform and Bench (Orange Line)IMG_3252I was able to navigate the entire orange line and most of the green line. I did half of the blue, leaving the tiny little yellow line for another time. To do the whole complex properly I’d need at least a week. The Metro seems much larger, cleaner and well maintained than the TTC. I imagine a ton of Quebec provincial money helps it function. Regardless, it’s very nice and a pleasure to toot around on.

Below: Berri-UQUAM Staircase from Green to Orange LineIMG_3282I was given a permit to shoot between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for a week. I could have shot after 7:00 p.m. in the evening but I was pretty tired by then and still sick. Despite the condensed schedule and flu there are some images that really resonate with me.

There are a few locations that serve as multilevel transfer stations. I spent a good amount of time in these. Some of the transfer points seem so far underground it makes their construction hard to imagine. These expansive stations also look newer than some of the regular stops, maybe because their downtown. Like the Toronto system, the further you get from the central hub in the Montreal Metro, the less interesting or updated stations seem to be.

Below: Berri-UQAM Escalator & Wall from Green to Orange LineIMG_3317The other big difference in the Metro is that there’s a lot of exposed concrete. a lot of the stations feel like late 70s construction rather than late 60s construction. I actually passed a lot of stations without exploring because their platforms seemed so brutalist in nature. I bet that was a mistake. There are many mezzanines that I didn’t see. Another time.

Below: Berri-UQAM Hallway to Yellow LineIMG_3293If you can believe wikipedia, the Montreal metro handles more passengers per day than Toronto’s TTC subway. 1.245 million per day ride the Metro and 1.084 million for the TTC.

Below: Berri UQAM Yellow Line Platform Entrance/Exit StaircaseIMG_3311This was also the first time I used my new tripod. I waited for years to buy it for some reason. The tripod itself is a no-name. It’s OK in and of itself but the articulated head is a fantastic triple geared arrangement that works like a dream. It’s a Manfrotto and I got the “Jr” rather than the professional and I couldn’t be happier with it. It weighs about the same as my camera, but I’m not venturing up the side of a mountain or anything. It’s such a pleasure to work with.

Below: Berri-UQAM Hallway from Green PlatformIMG_3322 Below: Assomption Metro Station Mezzanine (Green Line)IMG_3363 Below: Joliette Platform Benches (Green Line)IMG_3374Below: Joliette Staircase (Green Line)IMG_3378 Below: Papineau Staircase to Platform (Green Line)IMG_3387 Below: Papineau Platform Bench (Green Line)IMG_3431 Below: Beaudry View Across Platforms (Green Line)IMG_3438 Below: De la Savane Staircase to Platform (Orange Line)IMG_3468 Below: Villa-Maria Platform Bench (Orange Line)IMG_3502IMG_3475Below: Place-Saint-Henri Platform at Stairs (Orange Line)IMG_3511 Below: Lionel-Groulx Station Platform (Orange – Green Line)IMG_3536I keep coming back to the shot below. Even when I first passed this location when I was scouting the line I thought it would provide something special. This tile wall is strangely contemporary despite the fact that it was installed over 50 years ago in 1963. The year I was born. It mimics pixels, 25 years before they became relatively commonplace.

Below: Sauve Station Platform Level Hallway (Orange Line)Below: Snowdon Station (Blue – Orange Lines)Fauve Hallway Montreal 24 x 24IMG_3604 IMG_3612Below: Rosemont Station Platform (Orange Line)IMG_3624 Below: Laurier Station Mezzanine (Orange Line)IMG_3650 IMG_3653 Below: Laurier Station Platform Level (Orange Line)IMG_3664 Sherbrooke Station Platform and Benches (Orange Line)IMG_3681 Below: Sherbrooke Station Mezzanine (Orange Line)IMG_3688Peel Station Platform Stairs (Green Line)IMG_3701

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Exploring

IMG_3216 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-25 IMG_3154 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-24 IMG_3172 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-02 IMG_3190 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-42 IMG_3198 - 2000-01-01 at 00-01-34Exploring the city has occupied me now for close to twenty years. It now seems like such a small place after all the wandering I’ve done.

Close to where I live there are public tennis courts. They sit on the edge of a small park at the end of Franklin Avenue. The edge of the park and those courts also rests above the west side of Symington Avenue. This is the wall directly under the tennis courts. I imagine the white painted squares are  compliments of the city and serve to cover up some tags or graffiti. I was taken by the triptych of panels, the wild and unruly weeds and plants and the discarded cardboard from a twelve of Budweiser.IMG_3105On the north side of Queen Street West just west of John Street is this place. Back a few years ago it was an average bookstore called Pages with aspirations to be a good bookstore, but it went out of business before it could achieve its dreams. It now looks like the space is being used as yet another condominium sales office focusing on the kitchen design of the units. It’s either that or this is actually a kitchen design store.IMG_3117It’s been a while since I’ve wandered in the alleys around Richmond and Queen. I spotted this down a passage beside the restaurant Jules. It’s simply a dumpster that someone has hired to renovate some place. I was drawn to the three rectangular planes created by the doors and the sides of the dumpster. There’s also a wonderful distressed texture of scratches on both doors. The ramp is another trope that seems to be surfacing in a few of my images lately. I not sure what that’s about, but here it is again.IMG_3138On the west side of Spadina just north of Queen is another empty condominium sales office. In this instance for a sadly marketed place called Trend. This is a view into the sales office. The wall mural must have been made in the hopes of making the prospective buyers feel like stars. If they had been in marketing they would have quickly seen through the sad psychological ploy, turned around and left. I bet these places when completed will be as cheesy as the graphics.IMG_3142A few years ago I fund a little treasure trove of spots to photograph in the Bay and College area. I went back this week to see how the area had changed and discovered this service driveway behind a large condo building. I’m guessing these are air intake or ventilation exhaust pipes, at least the candy cane looking ones. I’d further suppose the controls or gauges beside are unrelated. Whatever this array of stuff is, it’s so pristine that it looks fictional to me. Of course the concrete drive is sullied with flecks of gum and other detritus, but the landscape is sort of surreal and strikes me as very Thomas Demand looking.IMG_3062 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-07IMG_3071 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-09Another plywood ramp in a section of the still-vacant main floor of the MaRS building on University south of College.IMG_3076 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-07

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Fifty Shades of Grey

I never thought of writing a post about Fifty Shades of Grey. I wasn’t particularly interested in reading the book, and never really thought about the movie, but now that the official trailer has been released and –weirdness of all weirdness–I’m in the film,  curiousity has taken hold. Self-interest wins in the end.

Clarification: my art is in the official Fifty Shades of Grey theatrical screener. More specifically four photographs from my “Wandering” series. You can see them pretty clearly for two very short portions of the trailer that takes place in the fictional office of Christian Grey. In the book there’s a direct reference to a small mosaic of work by Irish artist Jennifer Trouton that hangs beside the door to Christian Grey’s office. You can read about that work here. My guess is that because Fifty Shades of Grey was filmed in Vancouver, the set designer simply opted for an easier solution for an art source and rented my pieces from Bau-Xi Vancouver. It may also be that Jennifer Trouton’s awesome little paintings were unavailable. Whatever the reason, I’m pleased. Exposure and publicity doesn’t come that easy for any artist and I welcome the interest this might generate. It’s nice to have people look at your art.Fifty ShadesSo at about :24 seconds Christian Grey walks by a grouping of four photos. imageThen a little later in the trailer you can see two of the four works over the main character’s shoulder.imageYou can see larger versions of each image by clicking the images in this grouping below. All of these were used in 36 x 36″ dimensions in the film.

The large painting of ghostly ships in the direct background is a work by Ed Ruscha. I wasn’t familiar with it but Christopher Knight pointed to this in the Los Angeles Times. The director Sam Taylor-Johnson is a well-known contemporary artist in her own right, associated with the group of British contemporary artists labeled the YBA. She apparently borrowed a lot of work from very big name artists for the film including John Baldassari and Ed Ruscha. Here’s another shot of an original Ruscha painting from 1987. The piece in the scene is a derivation of this work called Brother, Sister.Brother SisterThere’s also most likely a multiple piece by John Baldessari in the office called National City, but I’ve only seen this in a still image. Here’s a pic of the actual art work in an article from the American Suburb X website.1996Baldessari_NationalCity_48x47cmSo I’m hanging out with John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha. That’s just so weird. Ed Ruscha is one of my favourite painters, and John Baldessari is right up there as well. I love Ruscha’s text based work like this piece from 2003, Pay Nothing Until April.

You can see the whole Fifty Shades of Grey trailer here. Who knows, maybe when the film comes out in February 2015 my work might see a bit more screen time. That would be spectacular but really this .0001 second of interest is pretty cool in it’s own right. Either Sam Taylor-Johnson actually liked my work enough to hang it, or the stylist on set at the time did. Either way it’s sweet and provides me with something to think about. By the way the first I heard about Sam Taylor Wood/Johnson was in 2004 for her Self Portrait Suspended series. A series that has been often copied in the ten years since.

Here’s a detailed description of Everything Expensive Thing in Fifty Shades of Grey, Explained from Bloomberg writer Justin Ocean. He was nice enough to add me to the list although in reality my work–comparatively speaking–is quite inexpensive : )

In other awesome Bau-Xi Photo related news, the AGO will be working with the gallery and some of my work in a few retail pop up shops they have initiated. Bentley Dupont West of Christie is also hanging in the AGO cafe on the lower level, and four pieces from my ongoing subway series will make it to the walls of the SkyCharter terminal at Pearson. I love Bau-Xi Photo and everyone there who has always supported what I do, even if it’s a little odd.

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Japanese

While I was taking these two shots at Yonge north of Davenport I met an old Japanese Canadian. I think I enjoyed talking to him for about 30 minutes–as much as he liked talking to me. We chatted about New York, Vancouver, Toronto, cameras, Japanese, and steaks. His friends are all dead, and although he might just have been telling me a story, he has no family in the city. He was born in Vancouver. I think he said he was 88. All his family has gone back to Japan. He smiled and laughed as he told me he was depressed. Maybe I’ll have to go back looking for him someday.IMG_2971The conversation made me think of Wayson Choy. He’s a Canadian of Chinese descent. I read The Jade Peony in the late 90s and it’s stuck with me. It deal with Vancouver and growing up as a child of Chinese immigrants, and touches on how Canada and Chinese Canadians treated the Japanese in Vancouver during the second world war. Maybe it’s time to read it again.

These two shots are in the windows of a closed building that may have been a furniture store. They looked distinctly out of place. They’re in display windows but they don’t look like display items. I had the feeling they had been there for years. IMG_2969

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Staging

I’ve been a little obsessed with an idea. Today in the rain I decided it was a good time to  attempt and execute something. This is where I ended up.

The odd thing is that this is not what I was thinking of doing, but now that I’ve happened upon it I like what it could turn into.

I created an eight inch four-sided cube out of back foamcore. I left two sides uncompleted to capture light within the structure. I set the structure on a sheet of black foamcore and used a black paper backdrop. This is the result. IMG_2916

The original intention was to use embroidery thread and create a webwork of lines within the structure by sewing from one side of the foamcore to the other. I’ll work on that still. These images however make me want to create the same sort of structure out of wood and paint it meticulously–including the edges of the boards–so it’s a uniform shade of black. I could then shoot that all black structure on a newly constructed background of  black foamcore or paper to remove imperfections, and maybe then shoot it underexposed or out of focus to enhance the effect.

I’ll work the same principle with white boards.

Hopefully I’ll achieve something temporal, sculptural, and somewhat illusional.

 

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Subway 2014

I’ve been back in the subway shooting for the last week.

The following shot is one of the new exist hallways at Pape Subway Station. I can see why the renovations took so long. These hallway and staircases are huge. I’m liking the blank white titles. Funny though, in the hour I shot these areas, not one person used them. The multiple planes–created by the ceiling and lights in combination with the dogs-leg in the corridor–work well with the oversized minimalist panels and subdued colour palette. Strangely enough in this instance it’s the utilitarian terrazzo floor seems almost overly complex and detailed.IMG_1995Dufferin Subway Station a few months before the work is completed. This is the main floor foyer, the entrance/exit to the street is to the right of the frame. There was a beautiful light streaming through the glass at about 9:00 in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the station refurbishment is a few months behind schedule. It needs a bit of work still. Again, the most impressive part of the renovation are the second exits built from the platform to street level. Expansive. IMG_2095The shot below is of Dufferin Subway Station at track level with a passing train. I’ve always been interested in how the background of this sort of image stays so definable through the windows of the subway cars.

The update to the station is all about these new square coloured tiles. I find the treatment optimistic and look forward to seeing the images that the coloured tiles form when it’s all done. IMG_2151This is the mezzanine of Dufferin Subway Station. I’m calling it the mezzanine because it’s the floor between track level and the upper foyer. The tiles here are a continuation of the upper hall imagery and I’m pretty sure represent pixelated flesh tones. The floors and ceilings still need a lot of work, but that’s pretty basic stuff. IMG_2154Another shot in Dufferin Subway Station from one of the new exits looking onto track level as a train comes into the station. Like the new Pape second exits, I didn’t see anyone use these during the time I was shooting, but they’re relatively impressive to me. Simple and functional yet a lot of work to hammer through underground around existing foundations, sewers, electrical and who knows what else. Seems like an engineering miracle.IMG_2176Museum Subway Station isn’t my favourite, but I think it works well for the kiddies. Part of my dislike is that before the renovation this was one of my favourite stations. It had the original yellow tile and that tile was almost immaculate throughout which is very hard to find. So many stations have had repairs and tiles are replaced, but those repaired titles always look so out of place because they’re colours are usually way off. It’s hard to match the original tiles that have faded uniformly together over 50 years or so.  Museum was also one of the few central platform stations that had a grand presence. It was sad to see it overhauled in what felt like a Disneyland sort of way. I think the majority of people like this station though and it does do a good job of calling out the ROM so I can see this as being for the greater good.IMG_2229Leslie Subway Station on the Sheppard Line. The whole five stop Sheppard extension is very quiet. This is a Mel Lastman legacy. I wonder if he rode to election in that infamous second term because he pushed this through? Traffic on this line has never seemed to justify the build, but the future will rectify that. I couldn’t help thinking that this extension was most likely conceived and executed for the same reasons that Rob Ford’s Scarborough line, which is a transparent way to buy voter support. I never thought I’d say this but Lastman was  a genius of a mayor when compared to Ford. IMG_2458Sheppard Subway Station on the Sheppard line. This is at the Western end of the platform and one of the only places in the Subway where you can see the signal lights standing on their own in full view. I imagine someday this line might continue east, pummelling through to meet the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line. IMG_2393Finch Subway Station is a sprawling place. Bus platforms for Brampton, York and Go Transit, two parking lots and eight separate entrances. I’ve shot this yellow tiled area before but I couldn’t resist it’s retro charm. This is the original tile and ceiling from the first days of the station.IMG_2259One of the staircases that takes you from the mezzanine level up to the bus station area. There’s a white balance conflict happening in this shot where the natural sunlight meets the artificial fluorescent light and I need to fix, but it will be a bit fiddly in Photoshop. You can see that conflict in the purple cast on the left wall and staircase.IMG_2350Below is a central circular portion of a hallway in Finch Subway Station that has three hallways running off it. One goes back into the station proper, one to parking and one to a street exit.IMG_2286The shot below was a lucky find. It’s mid-way through a renovation on one of the circular windows that accent the mezzanine level of the Sheppard Centre Subway station. This hole will eventually get finished with a stainless gasket-like window. There’s a row of four of these up the staircase you can view through the circular hole in the image below. Of course my smarty pants art friends all were reminded of Gordon Matta-Clark who I had to look up and is now a favourite of mine.

I also realized that I loved this image after the fact, but I had a feeling I would feel that way as soon as I saw it. I went back twice and shot it to get a sharper file. It was a bit tricky because the shutter speed is so low at ISO 100 that I’m forced to use a tripod, and that tripod isn’t quite tall enough in certain situations. After this I think it’s time for a new tripod. Maybe Ill splurge. 100 ISO is my norm now.IMG_2609The following two images were taken at Islington Subway Station. I’m not really sure what these black boxes are in every subway station, but they have power going to them.  The second image was taken through a glass window and shows a view into what looks to be dis-used office on the far Western end of the platform.IMG_2493 (1) IMG_2536(1)Davisville Subway Station. This is the view from the mezzanine level elevator hallway across both tracks to the TTC offices. I’d love to get in those offices and forage around for rooms and empty, unused office space to shoot. I bet I could find a lot of stuff with that 60s dated feel, like the office desk shown in the above Islington shot.

The following image struck me as interesting because of the way the yellow safety rail’s labyrinthine feel.IMG_2760Davisville Subway Station escalator down to track level. I’ve liked these yellow highlights for years but never really got images I was happy with. I think I can live with this one and a few others. Repeat the mantra with me; walls, benches, stairs and escalators!IMG_2753Lawrence Subway Station is pretty crazy. It’s actually four levels down to track level and it has a strange old school elegance. Walking up the staircase on the north end of the platform is a real trek. there must be 7 or 8 sets of stairs to get out of the depths of track level.IMG_2725 IMG_2715 The TTC has begun to camouflage the second ticket booths at many of the stations with printed stickering. I imagine this is to call attention away from the fact that there are not two booths open. Certain stations need both booths because of volume, and in the future maybe all stations will so busy that two booths are open. It’s not generally a problem if you’re patient and I’m sure lines will be reduced when they have a presto system in place. This is the Lawrence Station second booth disguised as an extension of the real blue tiled wall. IMG_2712Kennedy Subway Station is the end of the eastern portion of the Bay Bloor line. Here there’s a general commotion all the time with passengers and train cleaners milling about. Trains pull in and then go out of service for a while as they get cleaned, or just hang for a few minutes while a crew does a quick clean. The same thing happens at the other end of the line and at Finch Station on the bloor line. I imagine it happens at Downsview as well.IMG_2826Warden Subway Station was a favourite. I’ve been and shot there before, but never fully explored. The bus station portion was amazing and empty. That’s where the bench was shot. I just went down the stairs from the mezzanine level on one of the bus bays that’s no longer used and there it was. The first image is the staircase alcove on the way down to the kiss-and-ride area. If you look in the mirror you can see a reflection of me with the camera on a tripod and two people coming up the stairs. It’s fairly creepy. Why do I like blank walls? IMG_2809 IMG_2791IMG_2466

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June 2014

June 2014 marked the first time I’ve walked to my Eglington and Don Valley Parkway area office. The 15km took me about 3 hours at a leisurely pace. I often ride my bike and it takes about 50 minutes. For some reason though I’ve grown tired of riding. It’s just not fun. The roads are in brutal condition and I’ve begun to feel more and more like it’s just another way to get to work rather than being an enjoyable way to get to work.

I’ve always wanted to walk but never thought it would be possible for some weird reason. One morning three weeks ago I just woke up and decided to do it. I took my camera bag and work stuff with me and set out about 7:00 a.m. it was great. I loved it. Walk2I only took one photograph that I like on the first journey. It’s a shot of the hoarding that covers up what I think might be another Roots store on Bloor between Avenue and Bay Street.IMG_1735I loved that first walk so much that I made the journey again last week taking a different route. Now I’m thinking I’ll walk–to or from work–at least once a week. I think I can see myself doing this year round.Walk1 I was amazed at how easy it was. Sure I was tired and a bit sore, but it really was pretty straightforward. I’ve been thinking why I like it so much and it’s definitely a combination of the physical challenge, the slowed down and leisurely pace, the ability to really see what’s around me and the time it allows me think. It’s super peaceful.

Walking is also an extension of my art practice. At one point I would have said that practice was about photography but now I would say it’s more about the actual walking. It’s the journey that empowers me to think and to see things. My latest photography exhibitions have been titled “Wandering” and although these walking trips are planned from one location to another I’d say that word still fits.

On the second trip I found a few thing that I think I like. Part of the point of this blog is to simply post things, live with them, and decide what I feel has value then dump the rejected stuff. For now these two images are in my good books. We’ll see how long that lasts.IMG_1750 IMG_1751This really has been a month for me to try and break free of the daily routine I’ve become so accustom to. Partly because I’m bored, but also to see if I can shake of this artistic void I seem to be wallowing in.

We just got back from a one night trip to Prince Edward County. Being by the water was nice. Being in a place that’s not the city was also very nice, and one night was perfect. I missed my life back here in nutter land and was glad to get back. I’d definitely return for the same sort of trip soon I think. It might be better with a bunch of friends. The pace is pretty low key with nothing much to do in the evenings. The shot below is from the beach by our bed & breakfast in Wellington.IMG_1789-2We ended up eating some great food and drinking some great wine. We should also be pretty much stocked for the next 5 or 6 months of drinking. The County Cider Company was our first stop and they had excellent food and deliciously dry cider. We sat and looked out across their vineyard and the lake on a beautiful day while we ate crazy salads.

Hinterland was very cool, and will be amazing once they’ve got their kitchen up and running. It’s nothing to see really, but it has a very down to earth and simple aesthetic that we liked. It’s not trying to be a vineyard, it is a vineyard. We bought a case of our favourite bubbly stuffs there. Decadent.

The Norm Hardie place waswinderful. Their pizza was incredible, the staff was laid back and attentive, and there was a wickedly friendly dog there. We bought a case of wine and I got the following photograph that I really, really like from the second floor tasting room looking out over the fermenting floor.IMG_1805-2Hopefully July will be a more productive month for me. I might see if we can plan a trip back to Prince Edward County so I can do a planned art performance/photography thing. It involves a vacant field a day’s worth of walking in circles, then a day of photography. I think I might contact Norm Hardie and see if he has a patch of land I could use. I’ll also be venturing back into the subway over the July Long weekend. Keep happy and stay tuned.

 

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Photographer Laureate

So Toronto city council has approved a new “Photo Laureate” position to echo that of the Poet Laureate, but I think Photographer Laureate is the correct title that they want to bestow. Their intention is surely to honour the artist themselves not just one of their photographs.  I’ve consciously used the word honour here because the only way they motion was passed was by amending the motion so the position came with no monetary prize. There was another caveat, that the work of the honoured artist has to be made available free to the public. You can see the way this all went down here on the City of Toronto site.

So without sounding like a party pooper there are a few things wrong with this well intentioned motion and now newly created position. First, I’m pretty sure they want to create a Photographer Laureate, not a Photo Laureate as mentioned. This is coming from someone who considers themselves to be functionally illiterate. Second, they’ve really narrowed down the playing field to include only old people who no longer rely on an income or the income of their photographs. That’s the upshot of them qualifying the honour by stating that they create the position but “provided that there be no cash prize and the photographs be forwarded to Toronto Archives to be made available to the public.”

So we look forward to the City honouring some old person based on their previous financial success. There are probably quite a few Photographers like this and maybe I’m just a bit envious of the person who will eventually get the position in 2015 prior to them even being appointed. It would be nice to get more people interested and in love with the city, and it’s a neat idea to do it through photography. I just wish they left it open so some younger, gifted person could get the honour. So despite my criticism, congrats to City Council for passing something that wasn’t Crack-Asshole-Ford related. Honestly Mr. Mihevc good on you.

In celebration I went out and shot today.

This was taken on the west side of Keele at the lights that take you into the shops at the Stockyards. Not the new monster mall, but the old big box area with Rona, Home Depot and Crappy Tire. This is a staircase that takes you up to the top level of the industrial mall right on Keele. I’ve looked at it for years but it photographed well today.

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The following two images were taken along the back service area of the Dufferin Mall. This place really shows its age along here. I originally ventured down the narrow access road to shoot the walls of the high school athletic field. They’re pretty cool, but today they had a lot of shit graffiti, or should I say “tags” on them. Tags. Graffiti has merit, tags are by assholes.IMG_1571

Back in the day I use to do do store visits to the HMV that was located in here. I worked at Outside Music, a distributor for various labels from around the world. I also remember a story from one of the HMV workers about how notoriously crime filled the mall was. They related an episode where the previous manager had been burgled and held by assailants who brandished and threatened with a shotgun. It’s cleaned up a bit since then, but I imagine its still rough although what were once low income houses that back onto this service corridor are now probably worth more than then average workers can afford. IMG_1577

I walked from Edwin avenue and Dupont to Dundas West and University which is about 7 kilometres. This place on College has been vacant for years now. I don’t really like this photograph–and I’ve never been able to capture it in a way I want too–but it reminded me a bit of Lynne Cohen who died this week. So-long to a great and influential artist that I never met, but would have liked to.IMG_1588

Near the end of the day’s walk I found this empty retail place in Chinatown–on the north side of Dundas West just before the AGO and before I stopped in at Bau-Xi Photo to say hi. The detailed dirtiness of the electrical switches, and their missing sliders contrasts nicely with the framed attempt at decoration. I really like the bad framing of the print, which is probably not even a print, but something pulled from a book. The print itself reminds me of Art History classes and Jeff Wall. This pinkish, flesh-coloured paint is also prevalent in a lot of restaurants of a certain age. Shot through the front widow.IMG_1590

I’ll try and do twice the distance walking today which is Saturday the 17th of May.

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Toronto

Lately I love/hate Toronto. It’s definitely my home and I really love where I live but I’m not so keen on the politics. I’m old enough to understand that people generally become more conservative when they get older but to me the more “conservative” someone is the more selfish, mean-spirited, bitter, materialistic and paranoid they are. At one time I identified as liberal, but lately I identify more with the New Democrats. I still don’t like any of the parties because at heart I’m a socialist and happy about it. Lately I wish I could just live and let live a bit more. If I’m not careful I’ll become an embittered old man.

Toronto to me is rough and refined. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. I don’t want some generic suburb of perfection to live in. Maybe that’s why the Junction Triangle is so great, although even it’s changing quickly. So far it’s pretty good after ten years, and hopefully, if I’m lucky, by the time we don’t like it anymore because it’s just too affluent we can get lost and be old radicals in some obscure place.

Right now I love things like this empty intermodal transport container. It’s sitting on a chunk of land that use to be McBride Cycles back in the day, when that got ripped down it was an empty, brick strewn wasteland surrounded by a frost fence, then it was sort of cleaned up and became The Junction Flea Market (aka Hipster Central) and now it’s the parking lot for the soon to be constructed Duke condominiums. In the background to the right of the frame on Dundas Street West just before Keele Street you can see the cool building that’s a Salvation Army shelter. To the left of the frame is a residential neighbourhood. This is sort of our neighbourhood’s Parkdale. This part of Dundas Street West contains a whack of low-rent, sketchy apartment buildings as well as a few weird store fronts for various whack-job religious sects, some cool old and new legitimate businesses like Dog Lounge and Cool Hand of a Girl, some used appliance stores, a strange aquarium store that we’re sure is a front for some other illegal business, laundromats, and a shit-ass bar called Shox. Despite it’s sketchy overall look and feel I really like this stretch of road. I’m 100% comfortable wandering along it and I usually find something pretty interesting to look at.

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The shipping container is something I’m drawn to. I think it’s because of several factors but the sculptural work of Kim Adams and the Photography of Robert Polidori are probably my main reference points. I’ve also been relatively interested in them since people have begun to make houses and stores out of them. These containers are also–like most of everything I’m truly drawn to–rather pedestrian and utilitarian. I still think about carving, photographing, constructing, performing, and setting up shop inside one of these every time I see one. This one is interesting because it was used as a booth during the Junction Flea and someone took the time to finish the interior off a bit. It’s even better empty and derelict in this mysterious space.

This place below is located in front of the small mall that use to have Zellers in it on Dundas West just after it heads north at Roncesvalles. Now all that’s in there is a liquor store, a really crap Loblaws store, and the carcass of the Zellers. Target decided it was too skid row to move into. This is the back of a tire dealer that’s in a separate building closer to the actual street. It also contains a really shitty donut store… but hey, is there really any donut store that’s not shitty? It was once Firestone and I took pictures of it then, but now it’s something else. This is the slightly American feeling colour scheme of that business. Orange, white and blue. The orange is approaching cadmium, so to me this is reminiscent of the American flag. I’ve shot this wall many times over the last ten years. In fact I’ve probably posted about it before too.IMG_1328

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Idea Book

The idea book is a work in process. It’s a sketchbook of ideas, without the sketches. I use my phone most of the time to jot stuff down. This needs some serious editing and proofing, however the gist of my imaginings are there. Many of the ideas have made their way to the website in some form. I’ve started to execute some of them, and others I keep thinking about almost everyday. I have a fondness for each entry, ideas are what I’d like to do all the time but that’s impractical.

Clocking in at about 400 pages, it contains lots of literal one-liners. Over the next few years I hope to expand and contract it, sort of like breathing.

Idea Book

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April 2014 Wandering

IMG_1203April is looking up. It was warm enough on Thursday to walk to my Doctor appointment, so I took the camera out of moth balls for the two hour journey.

We have a rail corridor adjacent to our street. This is a view from our wonderful pedestrian/bicycle path over the Frost fence into the construction area. I love the play between the multiple horizontal lines of the rails in the foreground, the organically sculpted gravel hills, the colour patterns of the mall walls and the hydro pole that bisects the central focus area.

For the past ten years we’ve become accustom to the sound of Via and Go Trains passing by at relatively infrequent intervals. That’s all about to change. I’m not really worried about it, just disappointed that the government–in its infinite wisdom–has decided to cheap out on several fronts and rather than think about the future they’re saving their pennies to waste in other ways.

The train will be diesel. Strike one. Why in this day and age we are opting for fossil fuel technology I’ll never comprehend. The main cited argument is that electrifying the line would just be too expensive.

Maybe the whole plan of a dedicated airport route is too expensive, period. I don’t travel a great deal, and when I do, I fly out of the island for anything domestic. I can ride my bike or take TTC there. When I fly out of Pearson I also take the TTC. I’m not a big fan of spending piles of government money on “convenience” for an elite group of people and never will be. I don’t give a crap if the frequent flyer business contingent save half an hour on the journey to or from the airport to downtown. We’re building this thing for 1% of the population. Why aren’t we spending all this cash on the TTC?

Strike 2 is the “sound barrier” plan. I’d rather live with the noise and the current chain-link fence. I do now. Instead, we have to have our neighbourhood cloven in two by Mississauga Highway style concrete barrier walls.  Seriously? If I wanted to live in the suburbs I would have moved there 10 years ago. Several companies put forward wonderful “green” wall ideas, that looked extremely cool and fit in with the mentality of the area. Instead they opted for crappy-concrete barrier walls. We’ll see how nice those look covered in tags.

Sad, sad, sad.

 

 

 

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Neighbourhood

The neighbourhood to me is pretty huge. The word alone suggest in the vicinity and to me that means walking distance. In the city I would consider that within 15 km of my home. Most of these photographs however were taken in the last few weeks in the Roncesvalles and Dundas West areas.

The empty salon below speaks of a time when we didn’t worry about area codes. I think that takes it back to at least 20 years ago. Someone is in the process of renovating this space. No doubt they’ll leave the old sign up which is becoming a new tradition in retail that I like. They’ve already resurfaced part of the facade with faux-slate bricks that might be very unfashionable in about 5 years. I took this photo because I loved the empty window space, the confluence of linear planes and the reflection that didn’t include me in the surface of the glass. The pipes that run from sidewalk to wall in the bottom right hand corner of the frame are another draw.IMG_0872

Not close to our house–but still neighbourhood in my mind–is the King and Spadina area. I still like to go into MEC every now and again and I’m frequently at TIW or Soma or something around there. This place is on the south west corner of King and Peter and I’ve shot it through the windows for about 10 years. Someday it will be a condo I guess.

I like how the light plays with the floor, the simple emptiness of the place and the feeling and geometric delineation I get when resting my camera lens against the windows to shoot. Shooting through the window controls what the composition will be to a large extent. I’d like to set up a 24 hour video installation in what appears to be a four TV bank along the right hand side of the frame in the second image.IMG_0899 IMG_0900

Below is the entrance to a Roncesvalle lawers office. It seems standard practice to make lawyers offices dark and uninviting. It’s in a strip of places that include several furriers, a real estate office, restaurant, yoga studio, art gallery (that’s never open) and the sad, sad facade of Hugh’s Room.

It soooo brown and contains a ton of building materials and elements I find hideous and because of that I’m drawn to it. I’m like a moth to flame or a like a Rob Ford supporter to idiocy. The brilliant sunlight worked well too.IMG_0953

Further down Roncesvalles the storefront landscape is changing and I can’t see how this laundromat  in the next picture will survive when a restaurant can pay twice as much rent. I remember the days of washing my clothes in such a place… and I’m thankful I no longer have to do that. I’m spoiled.

The mural has been there as long as I can remember and it’s sort of cute in a outsider art way. Although as I sit here and think about t I can’t believe that places like these and vending machines are still relatively commonplace. Or more correctly, I can’t believe they still all rely on coin operated technology. How long will that last? The crop on this made me happy. I think it breaks a shitload of rules, but I hate those old school cropping rules. They’re almost as annoying as old guys who think Fine Art Photography is shooting naked women in Black & White. IMG_0959

Further south on Roncesvalle was this vacant storefront. Again I was taken with the mirror and how it didn’t show me because of the window angles. The mixture of florescent light and daylight its weirdly appealing too.IMG_0966I got my new camera bag in the mail Friday from…Australia!. After cleaning the house today I set the new bag up to carry my SLR and a lens. It’s a backpack which I’m hoping is more conducive to comfortably walking around for hours. The one shoulder thing has been bugging me for years. I think I’ll try it out tomorrow when I walk down to Queen and Bathurst. I’m so exciting.

 

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Sunday Painter February 23rd, 2014

Sunday Painter is a term I’ve always liked. I just looked it up and the Oxford definition is really quite disparaging. I prefer to think of a Sunday Painter as anyone who works away diligently at an artistic endeavour but has an occupation that takes up most of their waking hours that is not related to their practice. In my definition a Sunday Painter isn’t necessarily an amateur, crappy at what they do, or who produces uninteresting work.

I’m thinking about creative things and how they relate to my practice every day of the week but often never produce anything. Photography is one aspect of my practice and perhaps the most tangible. The rest of the time I’m conceptualizing, observing and dreaming away about things I’d like to produce and may actual produce when I’m retired and don’t have to spend 50 hours a week at work. A lot of that stuff is photo-based.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself  a “serious” artist now.  but retirement will work perfectly into my plans. I dream about the new full time job I’ll have when I’m sixty-or-so and in the meantime I’m doing the groundwork by observing the world in a different way and building a catalogue of things of execute when time permits. Experience is a good tool. I’m also just not prepared to disrupt two people’s lives at the ripe ole age of 50 for something I love but that might be financially unwise : )

Today I walked around the neighbourhood for a few hours. It’s been pretty cold and miserable for the last few months so this hasn’t been that practical.  It’s the first in a series of perpetual Sunday walk-abouts that I’m excited about executing.IMG_0819

This photograph above was taken in the parking lot of the new condominium that’s going in on Dundas West between Annette and Keele. Years ago this vacant lot had a building on it that housed McBride Cycles, a relatively large and well shopped Motorcycle store. For the past few years it’s been home to the Junction Flea Market, or as we like to call it the Hipster Flea Market. Now it’s waiting to be converted into a modest condo building that will be far too expensive. The metal umbrella is a left over from the Hipster Flea Market. There’s also a bunch of derelict storage containers still there that were used by the Hipsters to display their goods. Several of these have folding chairs in them and look to be used by vagrants as a place to socialize. I’m pretty sure there will be more photo ops in this parking lot over the next few months.IMG_0864

This is the side wall of a storage mart on Keele just North of Dundas West. It’s got to be on one of the dirtiest and most depressing stretches of roadway in the city. Keele is a real shit show above Dundas West and perhaps the most pedestrian unfriendly walk I can imagine. It tends to be full of stuff I want to take pictures of.

This Sunday Painting Day I was also planning on purchasing a fifty pound box of 3″ ardox spiral nails. For some reason I’ve been obsessing about an exhibition based around the ardox nail for about  two years. The problem is i t might have to wait for next Sunday because we lent our car out and I don’t think it’s such a practical idea to be walking a 50 pound box of nails around.

Nails

1. Sculpture/Photograph – Pile of 1000s of nails on the floor on a black square of wood or material. Maybe highly polished wood gloss. taken on white and black backdrops

2. Photograph – Triptych of a nail macro shot across three frames

3. Sculpture – 18 karat Golden nail hammered into wood

4. Sculpture – Nail hammered into a flat object like a penny on a railroad track

5. Painting -that depicts the hole that a nail makes when hammered into a material. White with black hole

6. Sculpture/Photograph – Pile of nails that have been individually bent into a circle

7. Painting – A nail chasing it’s own tail like the dragon infinity symbol

8. Drawing – nail in black charcoal on white hard pressed watercolour paper.

 

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MaRS (on Photography)

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The new MaRS building at University and College.

We live in an age of film. An age of action and narrative. Every motion or emotion we experience can be mentally viewed from above, beside, in front or on an angle. It can be seen as a slow pan, dissolving into the next shot or scene. I think this is the common imagining of our generation, and it’s been amplified to be even more commonplace with each year since the invention of film and the availability and proliferation of the medium.

Photography—in contrast—helps me break from this mould or habitual way of seeing. Although it’s still intimately embroiled in the illusion of capturing, it’s distinct lack of duration helps to break the cycle of common seeing. Photography is still firmly rooted in time, but to me it’s inherent sentimentally is inescapable–and that’s a key characteristic of how I see.

I could take pictures of sunsets or other wonderfully complete moments of stereotypical beauty, but those things just don’t interest me. I prefer to experience those things and commit them to memory no matter how infallible and inaccurate that memory can be. I still appreciate what might be considered the picturesque, but I don’t need a record of it, and I’m not engaged to talk about it. Beautiful photographs have their own value, but to me they touch a little to close to a common consensus on what beauty is. I think that delusional in a way.

I love the everyday. I enjoy the passed over. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than passing by a very pedestrian tableaux year after year and finally seeing it with the fresh realization that “this is captivating”. That moment will never be the same again, so I give in to the sentimentality and through my photographs strive to remember how I felt when I truly saw something for the first time despite seeing it hundreds of times.

There’s nobody in my photographs, but I think they are all full of people. At the very least they are full of me looking at something. I populate every image I take. It might be interesting to take pictures in a way that removes me from a place completely. Maybe I’ll buy an intervalometer and experiment with taking pictures of the subjects that interest me from a removed location. Sort of like ‘If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it really make a sound?” For now tough I’m happy to be included in the images.

Most of what I take has been seen or will be seen by thousands of people and nobody will find it fascinating enough to capture, but I hope–however presumptuously– that’s another way my image making differs from the norm. How it hopefully becomes unique.

I’m interested in places that are typically populated or were once populated at specific times when nobody is there. Despite this lack of the human, I hope my photographs are embed with people, the thought of people and how a place changes when those people not present. Hopefully everything I shoot is full of the spirit of people. Not in a mystical, or metaphysical manner, but in a logical way. People leave traces of skin, footmarks, dust, memories, and those things fill the picture plane.

Lately I’ve been more and more interested in making photographs rather than taking photographs. I’ll explore this process for a while and I have a sneaking suspicion that after thousands of hours I’ll finally figure it out. It will however still be rooted in the everyday, the common.

I don’t want to be known as a photographer. That’s not because I don’t believe in photography, or I find it limiting, or somehow wanting. It’s simply because I envision myself learning to write, paint, sculpt, act, and a myriad of other things as  I grow older, as I think about things more. That excites me. I’ll always make photographs. I would however just prefer to be known as an artist. That term seems to me a less constrained and defined term. I see myself as the jack of all trade–maybe never the master of any of them–but that diversity will help me to see. To change.

This is an essay in progress. I can’t imagine it making too much sense until I think about it a lot more.

March 13, 2014 I was thinking I might look at existing paintings, photographs or other art and try to commit those pieces to memory. Over a course of time I could then try to recreate those images by finding existing scenes that mimic the subject matter of those things. I can print these then compare the actual original and my “new” version. This came about by seeing a Jeff Wall image that I’ve somehow marked as my favourite by him years after first seeing it and how different int now appears than I’ve imagined. I changed it in my head over time until it became almost unrecognizable. Very strange. The piece in question is Clipped Branches

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SNAP! 2014

It’s been too long since I worked with SNAP! the annual photography auction event raising funds for The Aids Committee of Toronto or ACT. The last time I had a piece in the auction was in 2011. It seems like forever ago. Strange how time flies when you’re in it, but when you look back it’s seems so expansive.

This years physical catalogue is out and both the Live Auction and Silent Auction lots are up online on their well organized site. I’m very happy to be involved. It feels great to be included with such an amazing variety of spectacular images.

This year SNAP! selected a piece from my Wandering show in Vancouver which I had intended to show in Toronto last month. I’m not the most organized of artists so it turns out I couldn’t show the piece in Toronto because I donated –Club Monaco – Bloor and Avenue Road–to Snap!

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I would love to have the work of Paula Gortazar, EU Parliament, Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak Building, Room 03H01 from her Common Space series that I saw for the first time in the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward exhibit of 2012 in Regent Park.

Andrew B. Myers piece Lego is also a favourite, as is Yuriko Kubota’s  On Earth -Kara-. Yuriko’s work I was first familiarized through a Gallery 44 workshop. It’s really quite hard to get an idea of what it’s all about online, but it’s spectacular in person.

There’s also Elise Victoria Louise Windsor - Untitled (Wood Pyramid), Jason Gowans - Landscape 2, Robert Burley - Film Coating Facility, AGFA-Gevaert, Mortsel, Belgium (#1), and John Cyr - The Photo Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Developer Tray. I’d buy any of these… but I have too much photo based work already!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a seasoned collector with deep pockets or you’re just starting–or thinking of starting a collection–with a limited budget this is an amazing event, for a good cause, with a huge selection of work to offer.

You can get tickets for the March 6th main event itself from the SNAP! website or you can preview all the pieces at Arta Gallery (14 Distillery Lane) from Friday, February 28 – Sunday, March 2, 2014.

 

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Subway 2014

Subway 2014 is new work shot in the TTC over the turn of the new year.

The first two days of shooting were rather unproductive. I might look back and change that opinion. On the first day I took this shot of Osgoode Station platform. I love it. It captures the slightly tired and well worn station in a light that clarifies but doesn’t over romanticize the space. Part of the charm of this shot is the two colours of lighting that alternate in the fixtures above the safety line. I think the bluish, cooler fluorescents are more contemporary bulbs, the yellowish are older. The blue is also brighter and stronger. In the image below those bulbs are the portion of the frame that are slightly over exposed. The odd lighting, varied wall slats of the tunnel, weird green columns, incongruous yellow line, terrazzo tile and odd more contemporary tile filler strip all combine to unify this image for me. After all my initial disappointment I’m actually so pleased with this shot it didn’t really matter if I captured anything else.St. Andrew Station has had a redo. The awful slats that you can see in the Osgoode photograph above have been replaced in the St Andrew Station with spectacularly classic metal panels that echo the old original panels of the station. They look awesome. The only problem is they reflect the light from the platform in an irritating way that I could only fix by getting a higher vantage point for the tripod which just wasn’t going to happen. Most of my older work is punctuated by these sort of reflections, I’m not sure why they bother me so much now.Wellesley Station has always been a favourite but it’s also proven a bit hard to photograph. The lighting in the station itself is very subdued. It might not be so bad on bright sunny day, but on this visit it was hard to capture anything without the tripod. There’s something super utilitarian about the image below. It’s not really like my other images, but for now I like that it captures a station that’s been so illusive to me. The roundhouse feel of this mezzanine and bus corridor is quite spectacular.The last day of shooting on this permit was a bit more successful. Maybe because I planned to shoot three stations I’ve been to and photographed a lot over the last ten years. I see these three stations in a different way. I’m sure it looks like the same old way, but to me the shooting felt good and I’m very happy with the results. I’m not quite sure which images are my favourites, but I’ll live with them for a while and decide. Below are two shots from Keele Station.I’m not 100% in love with the photograph of the old mesh style telephone alcove. This is an original phone area. In other stations these are frequently covered over by small orange tiles and particularly shitty looking public phones. These wire cages are not super attractive but the there’s something endearing about them. One thing I particularly love about this image is the crumpled telephone directory. It’s really a photograph of a disappearing culture that has been supplanted by smart phones and the internet. Who really uses telephone directories anymore? This little alcove foreshadows a not too distant future when public phones have disappeared.

The image below is from the east end of Keele Station. It’s no longer manned by a person, or maybe it never was. This is a view of the interior of the collectors booth. The most amazing thing is the steam punk clock on the desk.High Park is now my favourite stations. I could have spent more time there, but it was also a spot where people just hang out and because of that it’s was more difficult to shoot. The first two images have a different coolness to them as they are taken with predominantly daylight that floods into the street level foyer through large banks of windows.There are a few reasons why the shot above makes me happy. There’s the oddly wonky “To Trains” signage, that’s messed up by the curve of the ceiling. Then there’s that curve of the ceiling itself. Also slightly odd is the weird handrail that angles out on the right hand side of the service panel. All of these little things make the straight on shot a little eccentric which is a word I’m becoming quite fond of now that I’m 50.

This is the same main floor foyer but to the right of the above shot. Natural light is streaming in from the right hand side of the frame which is a set of floor to ceiling windows. The area to the left of the railing is the staircase and escalator to/from the mezzanine.The ubiquitous orange title that blocks off old telephone booths and serves as the call out for the newer more contemporary pay phones. Below is the view if you were talking on the phone above and looking to your left. There’s another identical exit if you were to look to your right. This exist takes you up to Parkview Gardens on the north side of the tracks. The other would pop you out on a street between Clendenan and Quebec south of the tracks. Both exists are on the west end of the platform. From here you’d and you’d go South to Bloor Street.Below is the area just at the top of the stairs if you’d just walked up from the west end entry to the station. Of course at this end you’d have to use a Metro pass or token. There’s nobody manning the booth. This is typical of every station. One end of the station has a manned booth, the other is all automated. A shot of the wall in the mezzanine of the High Park station. To the left is the phone booth area and the magazine/crap store. The right side of the frame would take you to the entrance to the subway proper, directly behind me at this point is the ticket booth and entry point from the street level foyer.I just liked the confluence of lines below.Runnymede Has a great mezzanine. I’m not 100% sure what you call the level that’s one below street and one above track. I’m thinking it’s mezzanine or entresol. In fact now that I’ve Googled it I’m sure that’s what this area is called. All three of the following shots are from the Runnymede mezzanine.

The first shot actually has a person in it. You can see their shadow on the wall to the right of the column. They’re sitting on the bench drinking a coffee. In fact they sat there waiting for a friend for about ten minutes on this bench. Then when the friend showed up I thought I’d finally get a chance to shoot more without them, but that new arrival really needed to sit down.

I’m not quite sure what the hoarding is for here. Maybe this station is slated for upgrading. I’m not sure why that would be the case, this station seems very functional and quite spacious.I turned around 180 degrees from the shot of the bench above this is what I saw. There’s another stair/escalator combo across from this one. Both lead up to street level.A detail, straight on shot of the above of the above. I love the expression Please Hold Handrail

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Performance

Performance is just an idea that’s been in my head for a few years that I thought I’d write down.

I’d like to set up a studio in a large empty storefront. Optimally this space would have as much window/glass space as possible. Inside the window a large screen would be set up, and the window would be covered with cinema/theatrical curtains. I see these as opening side to side rather than up and down. This window would be set up in such a way that the curtain obscured the “set” 100% and when the curtain opened it looked like a standard commercial theatre screen

In front of the storefront a small set of standard high school football field bleachers would be set up or built. These should mimic the surface area of the window, so that if one was standing in the window the entire bleacher would be visible.

The exterior space with the bleachers would be covered in black tenting or would have a square architectural enclosure built around it and should be light fast. Entry to the bleacher area would be monitored and controlled through a single doorway or curtain on one side and a single door or curtain on the other side should serve as an exit.

People line-up for a short period outside the entrance.

Outside the entrance and inside the bleacher space are small camera’s that record the waiting, entrance and subsequent waiting of the audience. Maybe five minutes in line and five minutes in the bleachers. This ten minutes is filmed via various camera angles.

The footage is then computer edited by a written program in a very short space of time.

The curtains open and the audience is shown the film of them waiting, entering, and waiting.

The end.

January 30th

After more thought it would be interesting to real time T.V. edit the different camera angles and “shots” This might make the piece somewhat more complicated. I keep thinking about multiple cameras located throughout the set. These could be in the ceiling, back walls, and on the surface area of the window itself.

This piece could also involve some subtle performances by planted “members” of the audience. A person wearing headphones that are way too loud, someone who smells strongly of cedar wood, people in drag, someone smoking, a non-celebrity with a celebrity like entourage, etc. Each performance could utilize one or two of these “motivators” to get the audience to react. Some performances would have nothing.

While writing the above additions I can imagined that each performance could have a visible celebrity or celebrity look-alike to be in each audience.

 

 

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January 2014

January 2014 solo show at Bau-Xi Photo.

B A U – X I   P H O T O
324 DUNDAS ST WEST
TORONTO, ONTARIO, M5T 1G5
TEL: 416 977 0400
EMAIL: INFO@BAU-XIPHOTO.COM

January 11, 2014 – January 25, 2014
Opening Reception, Saturday January 11, 2-4 PMVacant Retail – Concorde & Kennedy, Montreal

Montreal fascinates me. In 2014 I plan an extended trip to wander and explore. In December of 2013 I went on a short overnight trip and even in that limited time I stumbled on things I was drawn to.

Vacant Retail – Concord & Kennedy, Montreal struck me for the odd window treatment on the back wall of the space that effectively transforms a banal view of an ally, into a glimpse of Birch forest. I Street Viewed this spot in Google Maps and before it was empty it was a hardwood flooring business. The flooring here is beautiful but the pessimist in me finds the window treatment/marketing approach rather ironic. Clearly the owners are illustrating the natural forest setting in the back of store in an attempt to suggest to the consumer they would take home a bit of nature with their purchase. In truth a bit of nature was destroyed to create their flooring. I find this marketing approach similar to car companies advertising SUVs by showing them scaling mountains and crossing beautiful streams. Although my house is made of wood, we have a lot of wood furniture and I buy wood products I’m very conscious of how we exploit our environment. I’m not super hard-core but I do feel that so much of our economy is driven by “natural resources” and we are quickly depleting our inheritance of these commodities in an irresponsible way to gain our Canadian economic advantage. It’s insane that we keep doing this. Future generations will look at us and shake their heads.

I find unassuming interiors interesting. There’s a mystery to vacant spaces. I like to imagine narratives for them. I also like to think about the past and future life of a spot as well as the people that have worked or been in a particular location. I have this weird theory that everyone who’s ever been in place and every action that’s ever been perpetrated there resonates to some degree within the space forever. This is a total fabricated, personal, pseudo-science. This resonance I feel for spaces is not supernatural or mystic but imaginative and based upon a rudimentary high school science education and a lifetime of watching films and television.

This shot is taken from outside the space, through the glass window.Latter-Day Saints – Broadview, Toronto

My camera is with me everyday, everywhere I go. It sits in my bag unused most of the time, but it’s there. I also frequently take transit. In the winter I purchase a Metro Pass and I can get off and on the bus whenever I want. It’s very conducive to exploring. I’m often on the 100 Bus, north from Broadview Station to the DVP and Eglington area. I’ve taken that route for at least ten years.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Broadview is perhaps the most unassuming building you could imagine. One day while sitting on the bus I looked out the window and noticed for the 100th time a large satellite dish that was plunked in the middle of a vacant parking lot. The next day I got off the bus to take pictures. I tried very hard to capture what it was about the dish that made me think, but nothing worked. Just as I had given up, I casually looked through the window of the actual building on the site and discovered this wonderful foyer. I think this is the area just outside the worship area for the church. I shot this—like so many of my other photos over the years—through the glass widow, using available light. I wasn’t inside the space.

This is a completely functional hall. There is however something odd about the haphazardly placed, institutional furniture. The portrait of Christ is unsettling as well. I’m not quite sure why it’s been hung so far up on the wall.  Maybe the draw for me here is that this is a place of worship but unlike other Christian churches it’s remarkably understated. It lacks the typical ostentatiousness of most organized religious buildings. The floor tile is just so 80s.

It’s a large building and I imagine it only gets used on Sundays but I’ve never seen a car in the parking lot and the windows were pretty grimy. Maybe the Mormons have moved onto better real estate and this place isn’t even used anymore. I can see the church selling the place and moving out of town. I also imagine the unimaginative condos that will take this building’s place.Wire Wall – Danforth West of Pape, Toronto

I’ve shot this wall for years and it wasn’t until November of 2013 that I captured it in a way that reflected how I see it most of the time. This is close to a perfect photograph for me. I doubt it’s perfect for anyone else, and I don’t really know the exact reasons why it’s so special to me personally, but it resonates.

I think I like it so much because of the confluence of weird colours, shapes, and arbitrary line. It’s a little organic and a little messed up. The wall is the western most point of a strip of retail just east of The Holy Name Parish Church on the Danforth just west of Pape Station. The wires coming out of the wall are so old school. I can’t believe their legal. Close up they look like rope. I’ve seriously looked at this wall for years and found something neat about it. There’s a Starbucks just a little west of this that I frequent. In the summer I get espresso and sit on the steps of the church and look into this little courtyard that’s not used by anyone for anything other than maybe storage and stare at this wall.

After I took this I re-visited the site a few days later and the wires were arranged differently. My guess is that this was probably a result of the wind. I shot it again but the composition was marred by the new wire configuration. Perhaps the image above captures the wall at the most perfect point in time for me. Often the reward for consistently and repetitively looking at the same thing over and over again is that after a while it often surprises you by telling you how to look at it.

How many people pass by this wall everyday without ever looking at it? Why would you look at this wall? I think I have a healthy fascination for found art. I’m not looking for beauty, but for interest. I’m not motivated to make beautiful things, I’d like to make thoughtful things that have an interesting aesthetic sense. I hope people realise when they look at my work that I truly find my subject matter exciting and engaging, even if that excitement comes very slowly and might be slightly melancholy.Coca-Cola Entrance – Overlea, Toronto

Coca-Cola “was” on my way to work at 42 Overlea. This is the second time in 2013 that I’ve dragged myself off the bus to shoot the building. I’ve always admired the facade. It was built in a time period that I’m connected to. When I started wandering around on this particular visit I discovered that the entire place has been recently vacated, left empty, sold and is slated to be demolished and replaced with a Costco. For now however this network of buildings is directly across from the East York Town Centre.

There’s nothing spectacular about the 50′s era office, but in this quiet, inactive state I really like it. This particular shot is of the front entrance.The colour of the tiles and columns echo the carmel aspects of the signature Coke drink. The old school intercom box is a good indication that at the time this building was in service it was fairly security conscious. I’m sure Coca-Cola is a still a thriving big-business, rotting the teeth and stomachs of high school kids and helping the nation become more obese everyday. I can’t even drink the stuff anymore unless I severely water it down with soda. I use to have it for breakfast when I was a teenager.

I’m slightly bemused that I’m drawn to these type of places day after day. They always have something of an institutional feel about them that’s sort of creepy.

I went by the offices and factory a few weeks after this photograph was taken and the entire complex is now surrounded by a temporary fence signalling that the demolition will soon begin. I would really like to get in this place now and shoot all the empty rooms and offices before they’re gone. How the heck I would arrange that I’m just not sure. I wouldn’t know where to start.

As of January 2nd the factory building has started to come down.Vacant Retail – Yonge & Davisville, Toronto

This business has closed and the entire block at this intersection has sold to make way for condos. This is just north of the north east corner of Yonge and Davisville. The building is on the corner of Yonge and Millwood. Just south of this place is another huge empty retail place that was an LCBO. I find it strange that any LCBO in this neighbourhood would close.

There is a lot of mauve here. The space also feels like a financial institution on the exterior. It’s very TD-Canada Trust looking. It’s also been empty for a very long time. The Google Street View image doesn’t give anything away, but you can definitely see it was a bank at one time from those images. There’s a night deposit door at the back of the building.

These shots are about the past. For me they’re a remembrance of what a space was, as well they serve as a sort of tribute to that past because they document unremarkable places before they cease to exist. I’m drawn to the grid pattern of interior space that’s delineated by wall and ceiling. I’m also interested in the idea of stasis. That odd purgatory that buildings exist in after they’ve been used and before they are transformed into something else. There’s a nostalgia here along with a little bit of ghost hunting.

It’s also about my process. I shot this same interior five or six years ago and got nothing out of it that I liked. I don’t even remember if those images depicted the same interior. My eye has changed and my aesthetic has definitely changed. I’m interested in different things now. It’s neat to think this place has been visited by me at different times in it’s vacancy.South West Cloverleaf – DVP & Eglington, Toronto

South West Cloverleaf – DVP & Eglington, Toronto is a photograph of the pseudo-park land inside one of the four highway cloverleafs at DVP and Eglington. It could be of any cloverleaf in any city. I love the colours and the weird pastoral nature of these images. For the last few years I’ve thought about locations like this and how they exist in every culture all over the world. I think about the inexhaustible subject matter. It’s park land where nobody ever goes. I imagine these spots as my own private places and wander around in the knee high grass quite frequently.

The word oasis comes to mind. These spots are teaming with wildlife and with the exception of the outermost edges are completely devoid of people and garbage. I think that’s just because nobody ever thinks of them as public space. Maybe you’re not even allowed to be inside these area, but it certainly doesn’t say that anywhere.

If you look closely in the top left hand side of the frame you can see an apartment building poking through the leaves of the Russian Olive. It’s a long way away from the clover leaf but it’s still present in this shot. If I remember correctly these areas are frequently planted with Russian Olives because they are extremely hearty and resistant to salt damage.

The majority of my work is absent of people but almost always indicative of the hand of mankind. There may be nobody in the frame, but there was, and the empty spaces echo and are tied directly to that humanity. I feel however that there’s always someone present. I may not be in the actual photograph but I’m pressing the shutter release and although I’m out of the frame, I’m there. I’m there in every photograph I take.Door Frames – Laird, Toronto

On Laird there has been a lot of development to service the suburban/urban area that makes up Leaside and Overlea. I despise  most of this as bad development. But I’m spoiled by my Dundas West neighbourhood. This whole strip is quickly turning into one parking lot after another, offering nothing but generic products and services of mediocre quality for a community of convenience. I don’t live in this are though and maybe that’s a pessimists view of things. I’m sure 90% of the residents love this stuff. It’s just not for me.

Before the transition happens completely the west side of Overlea has remained relatively untouched. It’s still home to lots of businesses that focus on the automobile, and some weird old school looking light-industrial. The space shown here was attached to an old school indoor carwash wash.

The simple, virtually black & white look that the space has and it’s slightly tired and imperfect construction are interesting. I also like the odd placement of the door and the window frame leaning against the side-wall. These object contrast wonderfully with the whiteness that surrounds them. I’m not quite sure why, but I find this image very mysterious and somewhat otherworldly. To me it’s as if the frames are placed against the wall for some specific unknown and somewhat fantastical purpose rather than simply placed there for storage.

Time Travel.Cinder Wall – James North, Hamilton

I grew up in Burlington and visited my Grandmother in Hamilton every weekend for a couple of years when I was pre-teen. I worked in Hamilton in my late-teens as an actor. I ended up living in the city for most of my 20s. I like the Hamilton, I’m comfortable in the city.

They must show movies on this wall in the summer. It’s simply perfect for that purpose. I imagine a film of the wall itself shot with a hand held camera and projected in such a way that every now and then the film and the blocks line up, but most of the time it would simply make the surface of the wall seem unstable.Empty Gallery – Granville South of 14th, Vancouver

While in British Columbia —for the opening of my summer show at Bau-Xi Gallery on Granville in Vancouver—I wandered around a bit during breaks from sitting in the gallery and found this place. It was two doors south of Bau-Xi. At first I thought maybe it had gone out of business but I looked it up on the all powerful internet and determined The Winsor Gallery simply moved to 258 East First Avenue. They left this behind for me.

One of the first Toronto photographs I printed and framed was of an empty gallery space on Queen West near Roncesvalles. In the ten years or so since then I’ve shot other empty gallery spaces but none have been quite as wonderful as this one. It’s so very simple and so spectacularly lit by the sun filtering in from behind me as I shot thorough the glass of the front door. I picture these images as a series somewhere down the line even if I only currently have three or four images I like.

These are about the nature of gallery space, the neighbourhoods they are in and the narrative that can be imagined by observing the empty space. The first space I shot like this was a springboard for dreaming about showing and it had a great deal to do with me getting my first show. This shot of Granville makes me think of the possibilities for the space, not just as a gallery for traditional forms of art but as a space for performance or something. I’d love to create a film and show it on this “screen” just to see the odd passerby get sucked into watching.

I think about an old desk with piles of faded paper and an old man moving things around.Stairs – Ferrand, Toronto

The office tower beside the one that I work in got some new concrete steps in October. I stumbled upon the old old demolished steps when I was out wandering around looking for things to photograph. We have a common parking lot and it’s huge. This was in a back corner. I found this pile of old steps funny.Bentley – Dupont West of Christie, Toronto

This was taken through the window of a building in the parking lot of Grand Touring Automobiles. Situated between the car dealership and the Faema building at the corner of Dupont and Christie is this beautiful historic building that looks like it may have been a schoolhouse. I’m not sure what it actually was before the dealership co-opted it, but it certainly looks turn of the century. Grand Touring now uses it for storage. There’s nothing in it except for a desk and some advertising posters/paintings of cars. This is a view through the east window looking across through the interior space. You can see the dealership through the far window. The painting of the Bentley on the floor grabs the artificial light from the ceiling above nicely.

I like this image, but I am extremely indifferent to cars, and even more suspect of luxury cars and what they say and represent about society. They are definitely useful to get from point A to point B, but they’re so over-used and to me they embody a lot of what’s wrong with the world. Particularly; pollution, war for oil, arrogance, superiority, embarrassing aspects of masculinity, immaturity, status and power.

All of the images for the January show were shot in 2013. I hand hold a Canon 5D Mark II, with a 17-35 mm L series lens. All are shot with available light and the majority are things I pass by ever day, but for this series there are photographs of Vancouver, Montreal and Hamilton that were taken while visiting. It makes me think it would be nice to do residences in other cities and over the course of a month shoot those cities.

The digital files from the Canon full frame camera are then processed in photoshop where typically I apply a small “S’ shaped curve, increase the exposure slightly and sharpen. I’ll also take that time to remove any dust spots that may be on the camera sensor. I also find the Canon sensor slightly less vivid than actual life and saturate each image slightly to capture what I saw.

Everything is printed 36″ x 36″ at Toronto Image Works on their Bulk Printer, then mounted on Archival Gator Board at AGS here in the city and final framed by Kyle at Bau-Xi Photo.

I have never been inside the six interior locations. For these shots I very roughly clean the glass of the door or window I’m shooting through, press my lens against the glass and cover the area of the window around the lens with a large cloth and shoot. Typically these are shot using slow shutter speeds and mid range apertures and I never really move my camera off 200 ISO. The window acts like a tripod to steady the camera. In these shots the grain noise can frequently be seen in the images because the lighting tends to be very subdued, and the shutter speeds so long.

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December Montreal

December in Montreal and it wasn’t cold. It certainly wasn’t balmy but it wasn’t ear-splitting cold and although I only had about an hour to wander around between appointments, I was pretty interested in what I stumbled on.

Montreal looks better ever time I go back. This time despite the dreary rain it was no exception. There’s still a lot of empty real-estate, but it doesn’t feel depressed. Maybe that’s just me. This huge empty retail space below was the first discovery. The expense on immense space in relative darkness then the brilliant illumination of the fluorescent landing pad was other worldly, or at least science fictiony. The metal structural members in the ceiling are very cool as were the patches of paint all along the delineating walls of the space

Closer to the hotel was this rather more contemporary space. I wasn’t very good about mapping my locations as I walked so it might be pretty hard to title some of these images if I plan to print and show. This space, with it’s contrasting concrete minimalist, man-made sensibility is contrasted by the photographic prints of a birch tree stand that hang in the windows.

The wall below is on the edge of parking lot at the corner of rue Sainte-Catherine and rue Clarke. It was quite treacherous making my way across the sheet of wet ice and leaves. I’m careful though. I don’t want to break a hip. It looks pretty gloomy but that’s not what I was thinking when I shot it. I really liked the mottled concrete that transitions into the variegated pattern. The map-like patchwork of light and dark concrete was a big draw but the shattered wooden pallet that felt sort of “Raft of the Medusa” to me, was an added bonus.

Yet another forgotten space but this one might just stay forgotten for a lot longer. I think it use to be a garage or gas station on the left surrounded by a parking lot or now empty gravel yard. This spot is an alley to nowhere. Here the colours and the geometry of the place suited me.

I’m going back soon. Hopefully 3 or 4 days will allow me a good start. I’m also thinking it’s time to visit and shoot the Metro but that will have to be done on a separate, dedicated trip.

So all in al for the day that I was there –other than missing a visit with my nephew–was a success. Hotel Galt here we come.

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Illusions

With Illusions I’ve just been thinking about photographs as objects rather than as tools to record or remember.

Here I’ve taken a picture of the sky and printed it. I was going to fold it into a paper airplane, but that’s actually more complicated than it seems. The image of the clouds is only on one side of the paper, the other side is blank white. When I fold an airplane shape I end up with sky image and plain white images mixed together and I really want the entire paper airplane to be made up of cloud image. Until I figure the two sided thing out, I’ve simply placed the original photograph on the table and let the natural roll of the paper take over.

The cool thing for me here is that the photograph changes from an image into a shape or a sculpture. I’m fascinated by this. I’m also fascinated by what is in essence a three dimensional thing posing as a two dimensional image. The photographs below could simply be  two-dimensional shape, rather than a three dimensional curved piece of paper.

After uploading this today I continued to think about it and came up with the following complicated scenario that I’d like to try involving projection as an extension of the illusion.

For Projection I would shoot a photograph of something. It could be the sky image again. Whatever it is I’ll print it, then take photographs of the photographs on a black background.

Separately I plan to fold architectural shapes out of paper. These will be simple and relatively complex shapes but each will have a it’s perimeter delineated by a simple shape. My first thought is that these shapes would be varying quadrilaterals. Maybe other shapes are possible but that will take quite a bit of experimentation.

I then have to obtain a projector I can use to experiment and for the exhibition.

I’ll take the new digital files that are images of the physical photographs and from the computer I’ll project them onto the architectural paper forms. The light from the projector will be adjustable to just cover the architectural paper shape. I’ll be projecting images on to the blank “screen” of the paper shapes. Ultimately I see these small paper sculptural screens being put under glass on a plinth and the projector mounted in the ceiling. I could even further work the piece so that the position of the projector allows the path of the image from the projector to be disturbed by the viewers point of reference.

I think these projected objects can become film, sculpture, photography and illusion.

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Folding

Folding is a spinoff from Crumple. I’d like to continue this work but to do a combination of angular, structured folds and other more random, organic folding. I do think this could go somewhere there. At the very least it feels good to explore.

I’ve organized a whack of 12″ square and smaller 2:3 ratio prints to experiment with. I’m also very keen to execute something I’ve been thinking about for the last two days. These two prints are 12″ x 12″ prints from the Wandering Vancouver show. 

I’ll venture out today and get some sky shots, which I hope to process next week. I then have a weird desire to take these sky images and make folded airplanes out of them. I was also thinking of taking a dark/black picture of the surface of some body of water and make a swan in origami out of it.

I’ve thought more about the folded Paper Planes. I’ve taken sky shots this morning. These are very. very, simple. There are no clouds, just an expansive blue with some aerial perspective happening. I’ll figure out how to make 7 different  Paper Planes by folding, and based on those plans print 7 different sky shots this week. When I get those back I’ll fold each “sky photograph” into it’s planed Paper Plane and photograph the resultant Plane again on either a white, black or combination of backgrounds. I’ll then print those photographs.

In the end I’ll end up with a photograph of a physically manipulated photograph.

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Colour

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Broadview

Today I found glory on Broadview through the windows of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I went to take pictures of the satellite dish that sits in their parking lot but ended up peering through the windows into the foyer of their church. A foyer that looks like it might not be used too much. I’m glad nobody was around because I guess I was technically trespassing on Mormon land. I don’t know any Mormons, maybe there not bad folks.

Just a reminder to see a bigger image than below just click on the image itself and it should open in a larger widow so you can see more detail.

Anyway the satellite dish ended up being not so interesting because it was behind a fence and I couldn’t get a clear shot. While I was looking though I realised that the entire parking lot was completely empty and by extension the building was probably vacant. I plucked up enough courage to look through the windows where the vertical blinds were not drawn and I saw this. Iw as smiling when  I shot it.

The most remarkable thing is that i’ve passed by here on my bicycle and on the bus at least 1000 times and I never thought to explore this block on foot. IF I had I might have discovered that at least during the week in the mornings there’s no one around the building and no one to get all bent out of shape when I take photographs. I think that’s one of the most amazing things. We all pass by so much stuff without ever giving it a second thought. If I could stop doing that I think I’d discover a lot more exciting stuff to shoot.

The image below was shot earlier this same morning on the the Danforth east of Donlands subway stop. Today instead of getting off at Broadview and busing the remainder of the trip to work, I went five or six stops further on the subway and then walked and took photographs as I made my way back to Broadview. I shot the image below of an empty retail window. I’m not sure if someone is storing the pianos in here, trying to sell them or they are left over from the last occupant. Regardless this piano and chair had a nice casual and natural composition that I like.

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The Danforth

The Danforth was good to me this morning. I’ve always loved this wall and it makes an interesting shot. I think I like almost everything about this picture. I’ll print it 36 x 36 and it will be in the next show. It’s the perfect confluence of weird colours, shapes, and arbitrary line. There’s a Starbucks just a little west of this. The wall is the western most point of a strip of retail just east of The Holy Name Parish church. I imagine the cords coming out of the wall are simply old school electrical, although they look like rope. I’ve seriously looked at this wall for years and found something neat about it. This morning when I try to think of why my mind turns to the sites I’ve been visiting recently to look at contemporary art. I can’t say I’m completely enamoured with them, but I do like the otherworldly randomness that they evoke.

The next two images are interesting but I’m not sure if they’re keepers. There’s a bridal shop on the south side of the Danforth around Chester. These are taken through the windows before it opens. I do like the funny self-portrait which –in the second of the two images below– makes it look like I’m wearing a wedding dress. These are both cropped in a 4:5 ratio in preparation for trying out the new view camera. I like the proportion better than the standard 35mm ratio of 2:3. I also like the dress image because I’ve broken one of my cardinal rules which is not to position myself so I’m looking up or down. Its weird I know but it’s become a habit that’s very hard to break.Finally this chair was nicely placed. It captured the sun at the exact minute I was walking by. Weird stuff happens.

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Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was on my way to work.  These are images of the offices at 42 Overlea. This is the second time I’ve dragged my bum off the bus to shoot the Coca-Cola building. Today I discovered that sometime in the past few years it was left derelict and is now slated to be demolished and replaced with a Costco. The network of buildings that will soon have cars parked for blocks to buy gas is directly across from the East York Town Centre.

There’s nothing spectacular about the 50′s era building, but in this quiet, inactive state I really like it. There are subtle references to carmel and the blackness that is Coca-Cola. It’s also slightly dated like the soft drink. The wall above is a detail that takes you into the front entrance below.

Again, it’s a simple and functional building. I don’t know why I like these places. They always have something of an institutional feel about them that’s sort of creepy.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the Coca-Cola building so I’ve been back a few times since this recent visit. The following image was taken around the back of the plant on a road that runs parallel to Overlea.

These further images I took today the 27th of November. There was a small amount of snow on the ground and an interesting sky. This small building is a security post for the shipping and receiving bays that are within a gated part of the complex. It reminds me of the ice huts that a few contemporary photographers have been so taken with.

and this is the interior of another security building.

On the other side of the street across from the rear portion of the Cola complex is a power corridor. All three of the following images were taken there today.

Finally I stopped at Target for a coffee at their Starbucks outlet that opens at 8:00 a.m. I couldn’t help thinking that one new predominantly red brand has replaced another older fading red brand.

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Framed

Another idea for the circular stuff. I got some new equipment, and thought about stuff as I fooled around. This is a grey circle stuck to the glass of a 24 x 24 frame with nothing in it, and shot on a black background in my humble little studio.

It’s underexposed on purpose to eliminate my reflection in the glass.

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Purple

Purple was someone’s favourite colour.

I’m not sure what this place was but apparently it was closed because the block at this particular place in the city has been sold to make way for condos. This is just north of the North East corner of Yonge and Davisville. The building is on the corner of Yonge and Millwood. Just south of this place is another huge empty retail place that was an LCBO. Weird that the LCBO up there has been so nomadic.

The light in here was brilliant. I’m going to return tomorrow and see if perhaps I can get crisper files. Right now these images are quite grainy because it’s all low, available light. I’d love to shoot them on large format film, but that’s not going to happen soon and I bet this place is torn down before then. That’s even more likely because it will be a while before I get my act together with the large format. I should get a new bellows for the thing in a week and that’s a good step in what I’m sure will be a long journey of discovery.

It’s definitely a lot of purple. It also has the feel of a financial institution on the exterior. It’s very TD-Canada Trust looking but I doubt I’ll ever know what it was. It’s also been empty for a very long time. The Google Streetview image doesn’t give anything away, but you can see it was a bank at one time.

The light is truly spectacular. There are a lot of windows on two sides of the building. It  also helps that there is nothing too tall in the area surrounding so the morning sun can make it’s way through the glass despite the crazy sunrise angle.

The shots I got today will be uploaded tonight, and they are much more subdued. There was no sun this morning but as I expected they are way more crisp, which i like for the possibility for printing large which has become sort of a habit. Although I love the sunlight, I like the images without it way more. See below.

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Crumpled

I crumpled up some prints and then took pictures of them.

While I was working on Circular in the studio I started thinking about crumpled paper. At first I was simply thinking about something I saw somewhere. A drawing of a crumpled piece of paper. I’m not sure if I’m imagining that or if I’ve actually seen one. For some reason as I write this the artist Escher comes to mind but I have no idea if he did such a drawing and I don’t see it after doing a simple Google search.  I then began to imagine how I could create a pseudo crumpled piece of paper using origami techniques and researched that a bit. Again I came up empty handed. I did find an article on the physics of paper crumpling, but it’s not really pertinent.

I started to clean up a bit. My studio is really just a table in the basement and it’s a bit cluttered with stuff we should probably simply throw out. Anyway, I was organizing and I found a bunch of 12″ x 12″ artist proofs I had intended to send out for publicity as some point but never did. I crumpled one up. The first one is shown below. I think it’s the most successful of these three, mainly because you can tell it’s a photograph and the subject is somewhat identifiable as you can see in the original reference image. The colours are also nice.

I think I can explore this act of crumpling in a lot of ways. The work above is a slightly destructive impulse I had towards older work. It’s not because I don’t like that work any more but because I wanted to see it differently. I’m very engaged in discovering new ways to look at photography or in ways to re-use it that depart from the typical practice of shooting a subject because its beautiful or immediately interesting.

The final shots from yesterday yielded another direction. I have a paper backdrop on a roll. I cut a piece of it off to cover the table I shoot on. I needed a new backdrop because the foamcore I’ve been using is a bit yellowish. I ended up with a section of paper that was some 12 feet across and about 5 feet deep that I had intended to throw out. It was dirty and ripped already. Instead of recycling it I crumpled it up. The result are shown here. I like the detail and the circular nature of the ball of paper. This crumple is about 12″ in diameter.

 

I’d like to work on creating crumples using some sort of process. But for now the random act of balling up a piece of paper has a lot of possibility for me.

I just remembered a possible alternate source of inspiration for this work. I love the work of Tom Friedman. He did some work with paper where he crumpled it and then meticulously recreated a copy of that same crumpling in another sheet of paper. While I was looking for that work I come across the work of Martin Creed. He crumpled a ball of paper and put it on display.

For me the bottom line is that the crumpled piece of paper reflect, holds, and cast an amazing light in the studio. It’s architecture is something to be sought after and not maligned. : )

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Circular

Circular is an extension of Circles and Ellipses and Colour Theory. The images in this post are simple constructions shot with available light in my makeshift studio. I think the next step will be to get some more advanced type of lighting, maybe a better/truer black & white background material and to elaborate the constructions.I’ll print these as single photographs, no edition. This will make each photograph unique and bring me closer to sculpture/painting. I think of these more like the work of many before me who make something, photograph it and then disassemble it, or let the work just cease to be. I think of Andy Goldsworthy, although his work has a  more formulated thesis and involves a more complicated construction scenario. These are simple constructions. I like simple.The über contrast between the stark white and black backgrounds is working well, but could be improved. I also have to be careful with the edges of my dibond circles. In hindsight creating the circles from photographic prints and then mounting them in dibond was an expensive and not very robust move. When I shoot these on a slight angle the edges of the material detract from the overall effect. These are also pretty touchy. They scratch easily and the edges of the photographs lift off the substrate when I fool around with them too much. It was also an expensive process that was sort of overkill. One of the surprises is the shadows. I think I can manipulate the shadows to be even more interesting as well use other geometric forms of material to make the light behave in more regulated and angular patterns. Right now all that can be really seen are the circular shadows caused by the angle of the light sources. If I can move to either constant light sources with more power or strobe flash light I might be able to create solid lines of shadow that criss cross the sculptural surface of the disc and the picture frames.I’ll print these in various sizes, but I’m leaning towards 48 x 48. I’m toying with making them small prints, and that might be an option because they they’ll become affordable and more practical for many people. There’s also a possibility I’ll take the circles out into the world. I’m fixated in a pile of these  crammed into a corner of the stairwell in my office building. It’s a concrete staircase and very bland. I think the circles would seem so unreal and maybe slightly happy there. 

 

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October 2013

October 2013 is shaping up to be my favourite month this year. Mainly because it’s the Fall and lately it’s the only really fall month we seem to get. Fall suits me.

October 20th – I wandered around the Yonge/Bay and Bloor area. On Yonge just north  of the unattended subway entrance there’s a Jack Astor’s. This is the south wall of the a Starbucks that is facing the fence of the Jack Astor’s patio. I’ve shot this weird little patch of colour on other occasions and I revisit just to see if it’s been painted over. The original exposed brick can be seen underneath the layers of paint and plaster. I think this used to be a cool old bookstore before it became a Starbucks. On Bay the new Four Seasons Hotel/Condo building is approaching completion. There’s work being done however on the actual streets; Bay, and Yorkville in particular. This is looking onto the Four Seasons from the middle of Yorkville.

and the view below is from the Bay Sidewalk looking out onto Bay Street where half the road is being worked on. This is a concrete layer of under layer that I guess they’ll either pave over or actually cover with more concrete. I think the circular patterning was caused by a forklift or other small construction vehicles wheels.October 19th – I wandered up to Keele and St Clair in the rain to investigate The Stockyards If you haven’t seen it, try to avoid it and you’re might be the better for it. In this square kilometre area there is already Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot, McDonalds, Harvey’s, Shoppers Drug Mart and other cookie cuter retail stores. Now there’s a new half-a-million square foot, big-box, glorified-strip-mall going in that will contain a Target a, Pet Smart, Best Buy, Second Cup, Subway, and you can guess the rest. Here’s a pic of one of the stores and I bet it’s more interesting now than it will be with second rate, poorly made goods stocking the shelves. Take note, when this place is open I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near this part of the city, the streets are still built to accommodate industrial and low density residential, not the 250,000 people in cars that will drive here from the surrounding 5km area. We’ve walked on surrounding roads in summer over the past ten years and you can’t breath because the car exhaust is so dense. Think about how ghastly it will be when it’s wall-to-wall grid lock and 35 degrees outside.October 16th – I revisited the weird transitional area between Thorncliff Park and Leaside. I wandered up Laird from Overlea, then across Eglington over to the DVP where my day job office is. It’s the Laird area I find I’m strangely drawn to. I made my way back to the self-storage place where I shot a photograph that was in the first Wandering show at Bau-Xi Photo. The whole complex is being painted. I’m not quite sure what the final colours will be but the interim hodge-podge is appealing. Note the following is not straight-on or at a forty-five degree angle.

When I did a complete circle of the building I also realised that the image I shot the previous year can be shot again this year but it will look even more like the Canadian flag. Just south west of the storage place on Laird there’s been a lot of development to service the suburban/urban area that is Leaside and Overlea. I can’t say that any of this is good development. I think if I say Smart Centres you’ll get the gist. It’s turning into one parking lot after another with generic, chain retail offering poor quality goods and services for a community of convenience. But I don’t live there and I’m sure 90% of the residents love this stuff.

Before the transition happens completely the west side of Overlea has been relatively untouched. It’s still home to lots of businesses that focus on the automobile, and some weird old school looking light industrial. Attached to an old school indoor carwash was the vacant retail place below.

This image is getting printed. I’m liking the simple, virtually black & white look that the space has and it’s slightly tired and imperfect construction. I also really love the weird placement of the door and the window frame leaning against the back wall. They contrast wonderfully with the whiteness that surrounds. I’m not quite sure why but I find this image very mysterious and somewhat otherworldly. To me it’s as if the frames are placed against the wall for some specific unknown and somewhat fantastical purpose rather than simply placed there for storage.I also made my way back into the pseudo park lands that make up the no man’s land of the highway cloverleafs beside my office building. I love these colours and the weird, pastoral nature of these shots. For the last few years I’ve thought  this can be a series in itself that might be inexhaustible. This image relates again to others I took last year, but now I’m looking at the scene with a more literary reference after reading Sebald whom I’ve been told is rather bleak and depressing. Funny, but I didn’t read it that way. I’ve enjoyed both Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn.The shot below is taken from the parking lot of our office building, and beyond the trees is the DVP. The building beside us is getting new stairs poured in concrete and they ripped out the old ones and stuck them at the back corner of the existing parking lot.

The idea of Urban Pastoral may seem absurd, but areas like those below are quickly becoming the only natural green spaces in our city. I like capturing what looks like the edge of the wild with elements of urbanity in this absurd manner. It’s sort of like public parks having parking lots. 

When I actually got into work and came up the stairs i shot this on the third floor of our building, then rotated the frame 90 degrees. The larger white area is actually a wall, at it’s base is a recessed fluorescent light, then the lip of a ledge and the front edge of that ledge, and finally the dark area is the carpeting of the floor. I like the echoes of James Turrell, Mark Rothko, and Dan Flaven.October 14th - Just off Bloor, West of Bay slightly down from the Ugg store is the empty condo sales office for some new building. It’s been there for a few years. I like the simple depth in this image. I also love the incredibly high ceilings and the suggestion of a library that the empty shelves provide.

October 8th - Yonge Street north of Bloor beside the Bay. Sad attempt at landscaping but never the less a welcome bit of greenery on a dated and unimpressive corner. I’ll work more on this entry on my lunch hour today at work. It’s pretty rainy and taking photos on lunch will most likely not be a good option.October 6th
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Found Sculpture

Found Sculpture in the case below references the work of James Carl. I had a great t-shirt of a t-shirt that James Carl did and that my loverly wife bought from Art Metropole for me. I really like his work. I think I’ll have to get another of those t-shirts. I also want to get some of these generic white cups and lids. They have this awesome James Carl sculptural quality that I find very attractive. I can imagine playing around with them my white paper backdrop, making one-off minimalist photographic sculpture.

I think of these electrical panel constructions as found sculpture too. They’re simply the coolest collage of wires, conduit, metal boxes and wires. It would be good to get some of these materials as well as the cups and construct elaborate and absurd versions of these modular masterpieces.

There’s already a sculptor who utilizes ductwork, and there’s also the work of Jimmy Limit that comes to mind. He shows at Clint Roenisch. If I worried about my work being like someone else’s I would have never produced anything so who cares.

Sculpture is a definite draw for future work. I also like the idea of found materials and of taking photographs to preserve a record of the sculpture. Living with actual sculptures is not the easiest thing to do. I like how photography translates the sculptural into an idea of the sculptural.

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Sebald

Sebald refers to the books I’m reading by W.G. (Max) Sebald. I started reading Austerlitz. I haven’t finished that but I’ve moved on to The Rings of Saturn. I’ll go back to Austerlitz at some point. He’s interesting.  I find myself wanting to relate his writing to the work I’ve been doing over the past ten years. Maybe  I just want to be associated with his work, but maybe it’s more than that.

Sebald’s writing is steeped in memory, the loss of memory, Selective memory, decay, change, and the passing of time. His work usually involves travel. In the case of The Rings of Saturn the narrater walks through Suffolk, the English middle eastern seaside.

Both Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn contain black & white photographs that compliment various segments of the text. They don’t detract form the descriptive pros but add a further element of mystery to what– for me–are already rather nebulous works.

To me my photographic work is memory based. I’ve never been interested in shooting people directly, but I’m very interested in the memory of them or the possibility of them. There seems so much more narrative leeway without burdening a piece with an actual person.

Both the pieces above reverberate with footsteps. In the second image someone took an elevator journey to this floor from what I imagine was a construction area just to deposit something in the garbage can before getting back on the elevator and leaving a distinct path from the dust on their boots.

The empty space in the first image was Gallery Moos at Bathurst and Richmond. It’s now on College Street but I’m not sure who runs it since Walter Moos died in June of this year. I never went in this gallery, thinking it rather old school. I saw inuit sculpture on a plinth as I rode by on my bike once and I think that sealed it’s fate for me.  I gather from his obit in the Globe he was a bit of a mover and shaker in the Toronto Art community. IN fact he really could be considered a bit of a pioneer having started his gallery in Yorkville in the late 50s. This Richmond Street shop was a truly abysmal location, you can see why the gallery moved to College. The interest for me was that this place was a gallery and now all that remains is the tired interior space punctuated by dust and scuff marks.

I think the image below is a physical manifestation of memory. I love construction holes for their invasion of the past. These holes are dug through years of deposit and dirt and history. I constantly look in these spaces and wish I could wander around inside on the floor of the excavation. I’d be immersed in the lives and deaths of so many. The shear volume of people that have passed over, interacted or lived in this space is overwhelming. If only I could get in touch with some company who digs these things out and get access.

My Sebald book is getting a bit dark. I’m in a bit that’s describing Nazi supported atrocities to the Serbian people during the 40s, Naval battles and the exploitation of the Congo by Belgium. So the caveat might be my that my work is more like Sebald light.

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