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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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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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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Photo Based

Photo Based is a term that I’ve just started thinking about more seriously. For me the term describes something which touches on some element of traditional photography. This can be simply taking a photo, finding a photo or building something completely different that references something involved in the photographic. It’s slightly odd that I’m exposed to so much that’s photo based but I’ve never really ventured too far from the very traditional picture taking exercise. Maybe it’s time for a bit of adventure.

The following image was already the result of some fairly major fooling around. It started as a traditional photo then became something else. For the initial image below I took one, four inch ardox nail and suspended it from a fishing line in front of a white background and took a picture. I then isolated the nail on a blank white canvas in Photoshop. I copied that single nail image, rotated the copy slightly in an arbitrary manner—so that it related to the first nail in an interesting way—and moved it to a suitable location on the canvas. I kept doing this for about fifteen minutes. I also processed it a bit with curves and contrast in CS3.

Then I distorting the image in Photoshop filters to get the image below.

If you didn’t know what it was, you’d never be able to guess. I’ve worked another nail baed image that popped into my head last night. This is a more regimented and structured composition, but it’s still sort of working for me.

This all grew out of a very spontaneous and accidental place described below.

Friends of ours are having their first child soon. The momentous event is about six weeks away. We had planned a few simple gifts. A store bought one, one made by Jill and one made by me. For my piece I intended to take a photograph that the couple sent to us to announce the fact that they were pregnant and simply print it nicely and frame it for them. The photo was of a pregnancy test sticks that indicated a positive result. I thought this would be funny and sort of different for the kid to grow up with in their room. It would serve as a reminder of a time before serious parenting began and to remind everyone of the humorous nature of life in general. It was all well intentioned. The problem was the image sort of sucked as an art piece. Although as a text message it was super compelling to communicate the pregnancy, it wasn’t working as a stand alone image. I thought it would look shitty on a wall, especially a wall that the couple had put so much recent effort into getting ready for the baby.

For some reason I just started screwing around. I took that original image of the pee stick and manipulated it in Photoshop to arrive at the image below. Much like the nails above. The new image depicts the indicator areas of the pregnancy test distorted and pixalize. I did some other simple stuff to it and bumped up the contrast a bit. All in all they are pretty cheesy effects that are simple standard filters in CS5 but used in an extreme way they have cool painterly effects.

I think I’ve gotten to something they can hang on their wall that relates to this crazy time in their lives but that nobody else will understand until they explain it. In that way it’s a very personal image that can be hung in plain sight and appreciated by them for what it means and by others for it’s simple aesthetic intrest.

I like this Photoshopping effect enough to continue a series in this vein. I’ve tried a few other photographs but I’m coming to the conclusion that to get a purley abstract image I need to begin with a somewhat abstract image.

I’m happy with this distorted representation of the photograph because it’s so painterly. So much so that I might go that added step extra and print a series of these “photographs” and use them as a reference for a series of paintings.

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Coloured Tarps

Coloured Tarps was originally conceived as a winter project.

The coloured tarps I’m talking about are typically blue however I’ve seen black, green, silver, white and orange in use at different times around the city. Lately I discovered you can get them in a few other colours like red and yellow and that I can have them custom made out of different materials. I’d like to get six or seven tarps that cover a spectrum of secondary colours.

The genesis of the idea was to wrap myself up cocoon like in these tarps and to take self-portraits while laying swaddled on the ground, sitting on a rock or in some other such pose. I’d use a remote control with the camera on a tripods or some other support. This might be hard to do without help. Managing the camera in the snow could be tricky as well. The optimal situation would be a new snow some day in a local park, super early in the morning before anyone’s disturbed the snow cover. I think I could shoot looking down from a bridge or some other such structure, but again, I think I need help to do this. Wrapping myself up even would be hard, let alone executing everything else. The camera could be attached to a long pole that could then be hoisted in the air to get a vantage point which would reduce any distortion in the perspective.

Simpler than this would be to shoot 10 ft square tarps stretched over an area of snow or supported in the air to flap in the breeze in a snow field. The resultant image could be obtained by simply creating something in illustrator or Photoshop, but that’s not the point. I see a room with 7 or 8 large square photographs that are taken of coloured tarps on fields of fresh snow from above somehow without shadow. The same could be done with circular tarps.

The closest images on the web to describe what I’m attempting are for camping. These are typically protective set ups. You can see the clean lines of these structures and although these images are taken in typical camping situations, I think you can see what I’m trying to accomplish. These actually describe a derivative of the Coloured Tarp project that I’m now stoked on as well. I can create Photoshop like holes in landscape spaces using various tarp structures.  Again, this image depicts a complex physical manipulation of the visual space to create scenarios that could easily be accomplished in Photoshop.

Each corner of the tarp could be controlled by fishing line, so the snow doesn’t get disturbed. It could also be attached by white string to a white structure of poles and hoisted in the air. Images could be taken of the formalist square or even circular tarps. A derivative of this would be to support the coloured tarps from their upper corners and let them wave in the breeze like flags. The images could be taken either, intentionally out of focus or at slow shutter speeds to blur the final images. I could also do inanimate shapes. I could find existing man-made object/structures and cover them with the coloured tarps. This could create abstract, painterly like compositions. Playing with photography and sculpture to create a homage to minimalist, formalist painting.

This is a further exploration of the painting thing. Humorous in way.  The idea of re-enacted scenarios via awkward and complicated logistics to create simple compositions that the viewer could mistake for paintings rather than photographs . It also has the obvious association with Christo’s work, but I think this is more about photography rather than sculpture.

This could be done anywhere and at anytime of day or night, in any season. The square or round tarps will look very cool wherever I can stretch them to their uniform shapes, let them flap in the breeze, shoot up at them against a white or blue sky, shoot them suspended above the surface of a lake, against a field of snow, against a wall of greenery, etc. The more I think about this the more limitless this project could be. Exciting.


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I keep coming back to these images. I’ve just decided these will make up the new Bau-Xi Photo show. I’ll shoot over the next few months and hopefully have 15 to 20 solid images for a show. I’m thinking of getting up very early tomorrow and trying to catch a new Scotia Bank on Bloor around Ossington before it opens and is completely finished. the colour of the redish orange ATMs and the blank empty walls should look pretty spectacular.

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