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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.