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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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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