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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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Eureka!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeing

Seeing is the next body of work I’ll start to build seriously. It’s been in the idea stage for over a year and I’ve researched it quite a bit already. The next steps are pretty daunting. I need to finish building my studio in the basement, apply for various grants, learn how to write well, teach myself how to hand Braille, and devise a way of making large format Braille works.

Seeing is about understanding. Specifically it’s about understanding that visual art –by it’s very nature and the nature of current museum structure– is exclusionary. In the most obvious way visual art is about seeing and it is definitely inaccessible to the visually impaired or blind. Sculpture is the possible exception, but even with sculpture patrons in galleries are not allowed to touch works so even it is inaccessible.

The ideas for Seeing originally struck me as a way to use photography to create text based art. I’ve always liked text stuff. The original idea was simple, I would describe photographs in text and print those descriptions instead of the photographs. I would change how the image is imagined by not letting it be seen at all. In a way this is a show about photography without showing photography. There does however seem to be a lot of text based work around in the contemporary art world. It’s become rather common place.  Because of that I began to think of ways to create pieces that might still be language based but not so stereotypically word art. If, for instance I was to print the text in very light grey on a white page it would make it less legible and less immediately obvious that it was text. This also served the purpose the obscuring the text, and in a way removing the photograph more, while still demanding the viewers attention.

At this point I started to think about Braille and then I kept thinking about Braille and started researching it. I’m now planning to convert my photographs to descriptions for the visually impaired or completely sightless, then translate that further into Braille by use of a software program called Druxbury, then write the Braille on oversized art paper and those panels of white Braille dots will become the actual art work. I’ll do a series of maybe a dozen pieces all in the same dimensions as the photographs they describe.

I had a fixation for months to get aluminum or fiberglass panels created via a CNC Router and a process they call raster Braille, but the costs were astronomical. There was aslo something too cold about manufactured panles. I far prefer the idea of doing the Braille work by hand now

The people at the CNIB have been very helpful and supplied me with this amazing document circa 1980 I’ve included a page of that document here. I love this document, it’s typed!

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