Construct Bau-Xi Toronto

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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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