Construct (Build or Erect)

Construct (Build or erect) is an idea for a show. My last exhibition had the same name, but I had intended it to be pronounced differently and to refer to a different definition. Construct (Idea or Theory) was a series of photographs of photographs manipulated into different sculptural configurations. I was playing with the idea or theory of photography, a construct of photography. In this new work my intent is to create sculptures out of building material and either display them as they are or again use photography to document them. I will construct work.

Construct (Build or Erect) has been a long time in the making. I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility of re-purposing common material. I’m comfortable with building things having worked in the construction industry when I was younger and having constructed a home from the foundation to the shingles. I can lay block, make concrete and mortar, frame, shingle, and do electrical and plumbing work. I can manage my way around a workshop and worksite.

I first merged the idea of construction and art in a project I did in 2010 for Nuit Blanche here in Toronto.For “The Task” I moved concrete blocks from one location to another and back again over a 12 hour period. 18 tons of block. It was extremely personally rewarding and referenced labour and making–as well as conceptualist, durational, performance and sculptural art.

The first recent attempt at a piece for Construct answered a lot of questions and gave me a lot of ideas. Below is a running account of the work from inspiration to execution. The next step is yet to be determined.

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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 Bau-Xi Toronto

For information, questions or comments email Info@chrisshepherd.net

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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Glitch

Glitch are pieces that were saved from a crashed hard drive. I seem to have a lot of these and find myself looking at them more and more. I love the random, error-driven arrangements and colour shifts.T3024x2024-11218A few years back I had a Lacie RAID drive for backup. It died a horrible death and so began the daunting task of having my files restored or at least recovered. The place I get work done on my Mac set to work and in a few weeks had recovered some data. The problem was that what they were able to recover was about 10,000 files and these had lost their names and folders.
So basically I had about 5 years of photography files that were all now just randomly numbered instead of named and they all sat in one folder. Finding stuff meant wandering through the data.

While wandering through, I realized that most of what had been recovered was multiple versions of the same file. Some were Tiff, some RAW and others were file types I’ve never heard of.
This was super depressing. Not only was all my work messed up, a lot of the files were damaged.

I continued taking new photographs and when I sold something older, I had to go into this drive and find it. It sounds horrible, but by this time I had resigned myself to the fact that shit happens, and frankly if I sell work it tends to be something I’m currently working on, and there’s very little backtracking required.  The other day when I was casually glancing back at my external drive setup where all these old files reside, I found myself looking at the error files again.

These are predominantly photographs of subways and a vacation about ten years ago that have been severely messed up. All I’ve done for the versions included in this post has been to crop the 2:3 ratio of each to a 1:1 square ratio. I find that’s the only orientation I like anymore. It’s been my production ratio now for about 7 years.T3024x2024-11567 I find it pretty cool that in the process of recovery for some reason each of these files has been mashed together with several other files and the colours have been messed with. It’s like they were lost for a while. IN the ether of electronic limbo, then they were found again  but that place where they had been had changed them. Reminds me of a very cool book series that I read recently The Southern Reach Trilogy.T3024x2024-11586Lately I’ve been reading a lot about success through failure. This is one of my biggest failures. I certainly learned to be more careful with my digital files, and now have a crazy 10 TB external drive and a traveling 1TB backup for all the final files I ever produce. I should be OK if there’s another failure, but this drive also has built in redundancy and tells me when one of it’s 4 component drives is about to fail. It’s worked very well for a while now.
T3024x2024-11611The thing about these images is that they are super random, and other than the original pictures and this new square crop have almost nothing to do with me other than this epiphany I’ve had in the lat week that these are worth something to me. They also fit very nicely in my developing interest of the image for the image sake, or photography about photography.T3024x2024-02503 So I’ll be going through this vast file full of files and looking for all the messed up images that were created.

It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, and it’s rather daunting to go through all the stuff, but the beauty of some of these images is clear. They also represent a recurring motif in the work I’m producing now which relates to the mythology of the Phoenix and the creatinon of something from the destruction of another thing. T3024x2024-02565 T3024x2024-06998 T3024x2024-06995 T3024x2024-02562

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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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August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015 The many faces of Lake Huron as July turns to August.

Every year we go to Huron for a week and every year it’s different weather. last year it was cold, windy and rainy. We ended up making it a much shorter visit opting to get back to the city where shitty weather isn’t really a big deal. This year it was sunny and warm every day.

I’ve been shooting the horizon for about ten years. I even have some framed prints in the basement of Huron in winter about ten years ago that were analog shot and darkroom printed. It seems so long ago.

Now I think it’s time to print some of these. In particular I’m very fond of the diptych at the end of this post. These two images with the distinct blue or white horizon lines are my favourites. I could see producing a series of ten of these all taken in the same spot but just a different times of day on different types of days. Showing the series in a line where the horizon just flows from one photograph to the next in what could appear like a perpetual line.

The cool thing about horizons are that they will still exist long after we’ve fucked up the planet beyond repair and destroyed ourselves. It’s not pessimism, just the simple truth. People are two worried about what kind of car they drive. How can they worry about destroying the world?Horizon

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Untitled-1IMG_5852_2Also there was ship in Goderich that I liked. I’m interested in how real life can look like a painting sometimes. Here are three mooring lines against the side of a large but seemingly rather old, tanker.IMG_5865We’ve been back to Huron a few times in August. Below are a few images taken from those more recent visits. I’m getting interested in a few other things. The water itself and how amazingly complex it is, and similarly the sky. Not surprisingly at dawn and dusk. I plan to keep taking these images until I have a collection of things I might print.

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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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June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015. Sunday, Father’s Day. This post is really yesterday and today. Saturday I walked and today I took the bike out with a definite destination in mind. There were other things to see as well. The first two images were taken in the Junction on Saturday. The whole area was getting ready for the Summer Solstice Festival so the curb lanes where cars are usually parked had been blocked off in preparation for the street closing.

The first image is the base of a city road sign and the asphalt. I liked that the rest of the metal frame Is echoed in the a shadow across the base. To me this portrays the power of light and ability to bend in such a way. Colour yellow is nice as well.IMG_5117This metal billboard skeleton was my first destination. Since the picture a few posts ago of the AGO interior I’ve been thinking about this billboard scaffolding structure and others like it. How it could be another potential painting subject. It was little difficult shoot on such a steep upward glancing angle, I had to crop the original image rather drastically, but this frame works for me for a template for painting.IMG_5119I’ve taken pictures of this place over the years. It’s never had anything in it that I remember, but it’s been freshly renovated to sell or lease. That renovation includes a circular window in this the West facing wall. It’s on the north side of Dupont just east of Spadina. Very close to the Magic Oven cardboard pizza place and the liquor store. In the desolation that is the back parking lot there’s a large city recycling bin and beside there is the largest collection of liquor store paper bags you’ve ever seen.

That said the side window is rather special. It’s slightly tacky with the stucco wall. For some reason I detest stucco wall treatments. Maybe because I can picture the Styrofoam underneath and the technique feels so superficial and so pedestrian and suburb like. The glass faces another building which might actually be the pizza place-associated apartments. The whole time I was shooting I was waiting for some resident to tell me to fuck off from one of the shitty windows that some cheap bastard used to replace the originals.IMG_5162Inside the same, vacant, newly renovated, weirdly attractive building that somebody will rent for some weird store. This is taken through the circular window pictured above.IMG_5164This was my original destination on the Sunday. I had planned to take a picture of an exterior wall that had a nice square chunk jack hammered out of it and backed with plywood however there was a car parked in front of it and when I framed the spot I thought I had liked it didn’t work well enough to press the shutter. I could however see indie through the super-dirty windows and I liked the nice linear layout of the raw framing and the way the light played inside. This reminds me very much of one of the first photographs I took through glass. That image was of a a building on the Dundas West/Roncessvalle transition curve that was a Bank of Montreal then was converted into the existing Starbuck store. I particularly like how the electrical hangs at a nice angle from the top left of the frame and the play of cinder block grey against the wood framing browns.IMG_5170Another shot of that building that’s being renovated on Avenue Road, just North of Dupont. The Skylight here brings a nice glow to the setting.

The windows really were really remarkably dirty. I always get a kick how easy it is to clean them up and make the images relatively crisp by simply playing with the levels and curves in Photoshop. IMG_5181Just south of the interior shots on Avenue road is Del Luca Fine Art pictured below. The gallery appears to have moved, or is in the process of moving. TBCIMG_5182 IMG_5190

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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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Exploring

IMG_3216 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-25 IMG_3154 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-24 IMG_3172 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-02 IMG_3190 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-42 IMG_3198 - 2000-01-01 at 00-01-34Exploring the city has occupied me now for close to twenty years. It now seems like such a small place after all the wandering I’ve done.

Close to where I live there are public tennis courts. They sit on the edge of a small park at the end of Franklin Avenue. The edge of the park and those courts also rests above the west side of Symington Avenue. This is the wall directly under the tennis courts. I imagine the white painted squares are  compliments of the city and serve to cover up some tags or graffiti. I was taken by the triptych of panels, the wild and unruly weeds and plants and the discarded cardboard from a twelve of Budweiser.IMG_3105On the north side of Queen Street West just west of John Street is this place. Back a few years ago it was an average bookstore called Pages with aspirations to be a good bookstore, but it went out of business before it could achieve its dreams. It now looks like the space is being used as yet another condominium sales office focusing on the kitchen design of the units. It’s either that or this is actually a kitchen design store.IMG_3117It’s been a while since I’ve wandered in the alleys around Richmond and Queen. I spotted this down a passage beside the restaurant Jules. It’s simply a dumpster that someone has hired to renovate some place. I was drawn to the three rectangular planes created by the doors and the sides of the dumpster. There’s also a wonderful distressed texture of scratches on both doors. The ramp is another trope that seems to be surfacing in a few of my images lately. I not sure what that’s about, but here it is again.IMG_3138On the west side of Spadina just north of Queen is another empty condominium sales office. In this instance for a sadly marketed place called Trend. This is a view into the sales office. The wall mural must have been made in the hopes of making the prospective buyers feel like stars. If they had been in marketing they would have quickly seen through the sad psychological ploy, turned around and left. I bet these places when completed will be as cheesy as the graphics.IMG_3142A few years ago I fund a little treasure trove of spots to photograph in the Bay and College area. I went back this week to see how the area had changed and discovered this service driveway behind a large condo building. I’m guessing these are air intake or ventilation exhaust pipes, at least the candy cane looking ones. I’d further suppose the controls or gauges beside are unrelated. Whatever this array of stuff is, it’s so pristine that it looks fictional to me. Of course the concrete drive is sullied with flecks of gum and other detritus, but the landscape is sort of surreal and strikes me as very Thomas Demand looking.IMG_3062 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-07IMG_3071 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-09Another plywood ramp in a section of the still-vacant main floor of the MaRS building on University south of College.IMG_3076 - 2000-01-01 at 00-00-07

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SNAP! 2014

It’s been too long since I worked with SNAP! the annual photography auction event raising funds for The Aids Committee of Toronto or ACT. The last time I had a piece in the auction was in 2011. It seems like forever ago. Strange how time flies when you’re in it, but when you look back it’s seems so expansive.

This years physical catalogue is out and both the Live Auction and Silent Auction lots are up online on their well organized site. I’m very happy to be involved. It feels great to be included with such an amazing variety of spectacular images.

This year SNAP! selected a piece from my Wandering show in Vancouver which I had intended to show in Toronto last month. I’m not the most organized of artists so it turns out I couldn’t show the piece in Toronto because I donated –Club Monaco – Bloor and Avenue Road–to Snap!

Club-Monaco-Avenue-Road-and-Bloor-20131

 

I would love to have the work of Paula Gortazar, EU Parliament, Brussels, Paul-Henri Spaak Building, Room 03H01 from her Common Space series that I saw for the first time in the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward exhibit of 2012 in Regent Park.

Andrew B. Myers piece Lego is also a favourite, as is Yuriko Kubota’s  On Earth -Kara-. Yuriko’s work I was first familiarized through a Gallery 44 workshop. It’s really quite hard to get an idea of what it’s all about online, but it’s spectacular in person.

There’s also Elise Victoria Louise Windsor - Untitled (Wood Pyramid), Jason Gowans - Landscape 2, Robert Burley - Film Coating Facility, AGFA-Gevaert, Mortsel, Belgium (#1), and John Cyr - The Photo Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Developer Tray. I’d buy any of these… but I have too much photo based work already!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a seasoned collector with deep pockets or you’re just starting–or thinking of starting a collection–with a limited budget this is an amazing event, for a good cause, with a huge selection of work to offer.

You can get tickets for the March 6th main event itself from the SNAP! website or you can preview all the pieces at Arta Gallery (14 Distillery Lane) from Friday, February 28 – Sunday, March 2, 2014.

 

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January 2014

January 2014 solo show at Bau-Xi Photo.

B A U – X I   P H O T O
324 DUNDAS ST WEST
TORONTO, ONTARIO, M5T 1G5
TEL: 416 977 0400
EMAIL: INFO@BAU-XIPHOTO.COM

January 11, 2014 – January 25, 2014
Opening Reception, Saturday January 11, 2-4 PMVacant Retail – Concorde & Kennedy, Montreal

Montreal fascinates me. In 2014 I plan an extended trip to wander and explore. In December of 2013 I went on a short overnight trip and even in that limited time I stumbled on things I was drawn to.

Vacant Retail – Concord & Kennedy, Montreal struck me for the odd window treatment on the back wall of the space that effectively transforms a banal view of an ally, into a glimpse of Birch forest. I Street Viewed this spot in Google Maps and before it was empty it was a hardwood flooring business. The flooring here is beautiful but the pessimist in me finds the window treatment/marketing approach rather ironic. Clearly the owners are illustrating the natural forest setting in the back of store in an attempt to suggest to the consumer they would take home a bit of nature with their purchase. In truth a bit of nature was destroyed to create their flooring. I find this marketing approach similar to car companies advertising SUVs by showing them scaling mountains and crossing beautiful streams. Although my house is made of wood, we have a lot of wood furniture and I buy wood products I’m very conscious of how we exploit our environment. I’m not super hard-core but I do feel that so much of our economy is driven by “natural resources” and we are quickly depleting our inheritance of these commodities in an irresponsible way to gain our Canadian economic advantage. It’s insane that we keep doing this. Future generations will look at us and shake their heads.

I find unassuming interiors interesting. There’s a mystery to vacant spaces. I like to imagine narratives for them. I also like to think about the past and future life of a spot as well as the people that have worked or been in a particular location. I have this weird theory that everyone who’s ever been in place and every action that’s ever been perpetrated there resonates to some degree within the space forever. This is a total fabricated, personal, pseudo-science. This resonance I feel for spaces is not supernatural or mystic but imaginative and based upon a rudimentary high school science education and a lifetime of watching films and television.

This shot is taken from outside the space, through the glass window.Latter-Day Saints – Broadview, Toronto

My camera is with me everyday, everywhere I go. It sits in my bag unused most of the time, but it’s there. I also frequently take transit. In the winter I purchase a Metro Pass and I can get off and on the bus whenever I want. It’s very conducive to exploring. I’m often on the 100 Bus, north from Broadview Station to the DVP and Eglington area. I’ve taken that route for at least ten years.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Broadview is perhaps the most unassuming building you could imagine. One day while sitting on the bus I looked out the window and noticed for the 100th time a large satellite dish that was plunked in the middle of a vacant parking lot. The next day I got off the bus to take pictures. I tried very hard to capture what it was about the dish that made me think, but nothing worked. Just as I had given up, I casually looked through the window of the actual building on the site and discovered this wonderful foyer. I think this is the area just outside the worship area for the church. I shot this—like so many of my other photos over the years—through the glass widow, using available light. I wasn’t inside the space.

This is a completely functional hall. There is however something odd about the haphazardly placed, institutional furniture. The portrait of Christ is unsettling as well. I’m not quite sure why it’s been hung so far up on the wall.  Maybe the draw for me here is that this is a place of worship but unlike other Christian churches it’s remarkably understated. It lacks the typical ostentatiousness of most organized religious buildings. The floor tile is just so 80s.

It’s a large building and I imagine it only gets used on Sundays but I’ve never seen a car in the parking lot and the windows were pretty grimy. Maybe the Mormons have moved onto better real estate and this place isn’t even used anymore. I can see the church selling the place and moving out of town. I also imagine the unimaginative condos that will take this building’s place.Wire Wall – Danforth West of Pape, Toronto

I’ve shot this wall for years and it wasn’t until November of 2013 that I captured it in a way that reflected how I see it most of the time. This is close to a perfect photograph for me. I doubt it’s perfect for anyone else, and I don’t really know the exact reasons why it’s so special to me personally, but it resonates.

I think I like it so much because of the confluence of weird colours, shapes, and arbitrary line. It’s a little organic and a little messed up. The wall is the western most point of a strip of retail just east of The Holy Name Parish Church on the Danforth just west of Pape Station. The wires coming out of the wall are so old school. I can’t believe their legal. Close up they look like rope. I’ve seriously looked at this wall for years and found something neat about it. There’s a Starbucks just a little west of this that I frequent. In the summer I get espresso and sit on the steps of the church and look into this little courtyard that’s not used by anyone for anything other than maybe storage and stare at this wall.

After I took this I re-visited the site a few days later and the wires were arranged differently. My guess is that this was probably a result of the wind. I shot it again but the composition was marred by the new wire configuration. Perhaps the image above captures the wall at the most perfect point in time for me. Often the reward for consistently and repetitively looking at the same thing over and over again is that after a while it often surprises you by telling you how to look at it.

How many people pass by this wall everyday without ever looking at it? Why would you look at this wall? I think I have a healthy fascination for found art. I’m not looking for beauty, but for interest. I’m not motivated to make beautiful things, I’d like to make thoughtful things that have an interesting aesthetic sense. I hope people realise when they look at my work that I truly find my subject matter exciting and engaging, even if that excitement comes very slowly and might be slightly melancholy.Coca-Cola Entrance – Overlea, Toronto

Coca-Cola “was” on my way to work at 42 Overlea. This is the second time in 2013 that I’ve dragged myself off the bus to shoot the building. I’ve always admired the facade. It was built in a time period that I’m connected to. When I started wandering around on this particular visit I discovered that the entire place has been recently vacated, left empty, sold and is slated to be demolished and replaced with a Costco. For now however this network of buildings is directly across from the East York Town Centre.

There’s nothing spectacular about the 50′s era office, but in this quiet, inactive state I really like it. This particular shot is of the front entrance.The colour of the tiles and columns echo the carmel aspects of the signature Coke drink. The old school intercom box is a good indication that at the time this building was in service it was fairly security conscious. I’m sure Coca-Cola is a still a thriving big-business, rotting the teeth and stomachs of high school kids and helping the nation become more obese everyday. I can’t even drink the stuff anymore unless I severely water it down with soda. I use to have it for breakfast when I was a teenager.

I’m slightly bemused that I’m drawn to these type of places day after day. They always have something of an institutional feel about them that’s sort of creepy.

I went by the offices and factory a few weeks after this photograph was taken and the entire complex is now surrounded by a temporary fence signalling that the demolition will soon begin. I would really like to get in this place now and shoot all the empty rooms and offices before they’re gone. How the heck I would arrange that I’m just not sure. I wouldn’t know where to start.

As of January 2nd the factory building has started to come down.Vacant Retail – Yonge & Davisville, Toronto

This business has closed and the entire block at this intersection has sold to make way for condos. This is just north of the north east corner of Yonge and Davisville. The building is on the corner of Yonge and Millwood. Just south of this place is another huge empty retail place that was an LCBO. I find it strange that any LCBO in this neighbourhood would close.

There is a lot of mauve here. The space also feels like a financial institution on the exterior. It’s very TD-Canada Trust looking. It’s also been empty for a very long time. The Google Street View image doesn’t give anything away, but you can definitely see it was a bank at one time from those images. There’s a night deposit door at the back of the building.

These shots are about the past. For me they’re a remembrance of what a space was, as well they serve as a sort of tribute to that past because they document unremarkable places before they cease to exist. I’m drawn to the grid pattern of interior space that’s delineated by wall and ceiling. I’m also interested in the idea of stasis. That odd purgatory that buildings exist in after they’ve been used and before they are transformed into something else. There’s a nostalgia here along with a little bit of ghost hunting.

It’s also about my process. I shot this same interior five or six years ago and got nothing out of it that I liked. I don’t even remember if those images depicted the same interior. My eye has changed and my aesthetic has definitely changed. I’m interested in different things now. It’s neat to think this place has been visited by me at different times in it’s vacancy.South West Cloverleaf – DVP & Eglington, Toronto

South West Cloverleaf – DVP & Eglington, Toronto is a photograph of the pseudo-park land inside one of the four highway cloverleafs at DVP and Eglington. It could be of any cloverleaf in any city. I love the colours and the weird pastoral nature of these images. For the last few years I’ve thought about locations like this and how they exist in every culture all over the world. I think about the inexhaustible subject matter. It’s park land where nobody ever goes. I imagine these spots as my own private places and wander around in the knee high grass quite frequently.

The word oasis comes to mind. These spots are teaming with wildlife and with the exception of the outermost edges are completely devoid of people and garbage. I think that’s just because nobody ever thinks of them as public space. Maybe you’re not even allowed to be inside these area, but it certainly doesn’t say that anywhere.

If you look closely in the top left hand side of the frame you can see an apartment building poking through the leaves of the Russian Olive. It’s a long way away from the clover leaf but it’s still present in this shot. If I remember correctly these areas are frequently planted with Russian Olives because they are extremely hearty and resistant to salt damage.

The majority of my work is absent of people but almost always indicative of the hand of mankind. There may be nobody in the frame, but there was, and the empty spaces echo and are tied directly to that humanity. I feel however that there’s always someone present. I may not be in the actual photograph but I’m pressing the shutter release and although I’m out of the frame, I’m there. I’m there in every photograph I take.Door Frames – Laird, Toronto

On Laird there has been a lot of development to service the suburban/urban area that makes up Leaside and Overlea. I despise  most of this as bad development. But I’m spoiled by my Dundas West neighbourhood. This whole strip is quickly turning into one parking lot after another, offering nothing but generic products and services of mediocre quality for a community of convenience. I don’t live in this are though and maybe that’s a pessimists view of things. I’m sure 90% of the residents love this stuff. It’s just not for me.

Before the transition happens completely the west side of Overlea has remained relatively untouched. It’s still home to lots of businesses that focus on the automobile, and some weird old school looking light-industrial. The space shown here was attached to an old school indoor carwash wash.

The simple, virtually black & white look that the space has and it’s slightly tired and imperfect construction are interesting. I also like the odd placement of the door and the window frame leaning against the side-wall. These object contrast wonderfully with the whiteness that surrounds them. 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.

Time Travel.Cinder Wall – James North, Hamilton

I grew up in Burlington and visited my Grandmother in Hamilton every weekend for a couple of years when I was pre-teen. I worked in Hamilton in my late-teens as an actor. I ended up living in the city for most of my 20s. I like the Hamilton, I’m comfortable in the city.

They must show movies on this wall in the summer. It’s simply perfect for that purpose. I imagine a film of the wall itself shot with a hand held camera and projected in such a way that every now and then the film and the blocks line up, but most of the time it would simply make the surface of the wall seem unstable.Empty Gallery – Granville South of 14th, Vancouver

While in British Columbia —for the opening of my summer show at Bau-Xi Gallery on Granville in Vancouver—I wandered around a bit during breaks from sitting in the gallery and found this place. It was two doors south of Bau-Xi. At first I thought maybe it had gone out of business but I looked it up on the all powerful internet and determined The Winsor Gallery simply moved to 258 East First Avenue. They left this behind for me.

One of the first Toronto photographs I printed and framed was of an empty gallery space on Queen West near Roncesvalles. In the ten years or so since then I’ve shot other empty gallery spaces but none have been quite as wonderful as this one. It’s so very simple and so spectacularly lit by the sun filtering in from behind me as I shot thorough the glass of the front door. I picture these images as a series somewhere down the line even if I only currently have three or four images I like.

These are about the nature of gallery space, the neighbourhoods they are in and the narrative that can be imagined by observing the empty space. The first space I shot like this was a springboard for dreaming about showing and it had a great deal to do with me getting my first show. This shot of Granville makes me think of the possibilities for the space, not just as a gallery for traditional forms of art but as a space for performance or something. I’d love to create a film and show it on this “screen” just to see the odd passerby get sucked into watching.

I think about an old desk with piles of faded paper and an old man moving things around.Stairs – Ferrand, Toronto

The office tower beside the one that I work in got some new concrete steps in October. I stumbled upon the old old demolished steps when I was out wandering around looking for things to photograph. We have a common parking lot and it’s huge. This was in a back corner. I found this pile of old steps funny.Bentley – Dupont West of Christie, Toronto

This was taken through the window of a building in the parking lot of Grand Touring Automobiles. Situated between the car dealership and the Faema building at the corner of Dupont and Christie is this beautiful historic building that looks like it may have been a schoolhouse. I’m not sure what it actually was before the dealership co-opted it, but it certainly looks turn of the century. Grand Touring now uses it for storage. There’s nothing in it except for a desk and some advertising posters/paintings of cars. This is a view through the east window looking across through the interior space. You can see the dealership through the far window. The painting of the Bentley on the floor grabs the artificial light from the ceiling above nicely.

I like this image, but I am extremely indifferent to cars, and even more suspect of luxury cars and what they say and represent about society. They are definitely useful to get from point A to point B, but they’re so over-used and to me they embody a lot of what’s wrong with the world. Particularly; pollution, war for oil, arrogance, superiority, embarrassing aspects of masculinity, immaturity, status and power.

All of the images for the January show were shot in 2013. I hand hold a Canon 5D Mark II, with a 17-35 mm L series lens. All are shot with available light and the majority are things I pass by ever day, but for this series there are photographs of Vancouver, Montreal and Hamilton that were taken while visiting. It makes me think it would be nice to do residences in other cities and over the course of a month shoot those cities.

The digital files from the Canon full frame camera are then processed in photoshop where typically I apply a small “S’ shaped curve, increase the exposure slightly and sharpen. I’ll also take that time to remove any dust spots that may be on the camera sensor. I also find the Canon sensor slightly less vivid than actual life and saturate each image slightly to capture what I saw.

Everything is printed 36″ x 36″ at Toronto Image Works on their Bulk Printer, then mounted on Archival Gator Board at AGS here in the city and final framed by Kyle at Bau-Xi Photo.

I have never been inside the six interior locations. For these shots I very roughly clean the glass of the door or window I’m shooting through, press my lens against the glass and cover the area of the window around the lens with a large cloth and shoot. Typically these are shot using slow shutter speeds and mid range apertures and I never really move my camera off 200 ISO. The window acts like a tripod to steady the camera. In these shots the grain noise can frequently be seen in the images because the lighting tends to be very subdued, and the shutter speeds so long.

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Signage

Signage comes from an ongoing desire to do text based work. Ultimately these will be temporal installations that I’ll photograph as a record of them actually happening. The difficulty will be to make it mean something without degenerating into pessimism.

I’m thinking I can buy a typical marketing sign like the one below for about $1000.00. I can then dissemble and drive it around to different locations, set it up and install some humorous but poignant verbiage. I don’t have anything perfectly planned, but the first one might involve a car dealership, or a luxury car and text to suit along the line of “A car does not make you a better person”.

I may have just come upon a new direction for the whole thing in writing that. I can imagine other similar wording like “Violence does not make you a better person”, “Intolerance does not make you a better person”. The only thing I can see that might be slightly problematic with these is that they might read as overly religious or proselytizing. But that could also be more interesting. Here’s a few more… “Money doesn’t make you a better person”, “Gambling doesn’t make you a better person” and Anger doesn’t make you a better person”

I can see these in front of race tracks, police stations, car dealerships, schools, etc.

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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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Sketching

Sketching is rough work. Now that the weather has turned I’m making a concerted effort to get out and wander again. It helps to post and look at things for a while on the site before I decide if they’re their crap or if they have potential.

The goal now is to continue this so I’m getting out every day.

After thinking about it for about a month and passing by it about 20 times I went back to shoot Postal Station E Dovercourt and Bloor. The draw is a combination of the flat aluminum framework, the old school 60s modern aesthetic, the porous warmth of the concrete, the tarp obscuring the interior, the reflection of Dovercourt in the glass and that I use to collect stamp. It may seem strange but these 2 pics are loaded images to me in so many ways. I also just like how they look for some reason. I cropped and processed this today on the 20th of April and shot it about a week ago. The earlier image down at the bottom of the post was done about three weeks ago. It’s crazy how the angle and framing is the same. I really do have a weird way of repeating things almost perfectly.

This weekend was definitely spring like. It’s the 7th today and I managed a few shots I like. Nothing too out of my wheelhouse here but some shots that might have some staying power.

 

The following were taken last weekend the 29th of March.

Wallace Emerson Community Centre – Taken through one of the widows in the gymnasium complex which is the north building. The paper cut outs caught the light of spring nicely. I also like the awkward positioning of the coat rack and interior widows. You can see a slight reflection in the bottom left hand corner created by the exterior widow I rest the camera lens on to take the photograph.

Grand Touring Automobiles on Dupont Outbuilding – Situated between the car dealership and the Faema building at the corner of Dupont and Christie is a beautiful old school building. I’m not sure what it was before the dealership was there, but it looks turn of the century. It looks like the dealership now uses it for special events. It’s empty inside except for a desk and some advertising posters for the cars. This is a view form outside through an east window looking across through the interior space with the dealership proper shown outside the window. A painting of a Bentley on the floor captures the artificial light from the ceiling above nicely. I like this image, but I am extremely indifferent to cars. They are definitely useful sometimes to get from point A to point B, but other than that I find them to embody a lot of what’s wrong with the world. Particularly; pollution, war for oil; arrogance, superiority and other extremely embarrassing aspects of masculinity.

Postal Station E Dovercourt and Bloor – Now Closed. Can the postage stamp be that far off from following in the steps of the penny? I can’t remember the last time I posted a letter or retrieved an important one from the mailbox. The Canadian Postal Service can’t survive for much longer can they?

 

 

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Made

Made - One of the coolest things about having a show is talking to people and getting new ideas.

I think it was Sunday, the day after the opening that I came up with the idea for my next show at Bau-Xi, which I hope to mount and open in January of 2014.

The present show Wandering consists of images of discovered subjects. The plan for Made will be to subtly create temporal works that couldn’t really be mistaken for found subjects like the subjects in Wandering. I’ll build or create the scenes and then photograph them to preserve and display, the actual pieces would be left to survive or disappear, or be dismantled.

The work in Made will be part street art, sculpture, performance and photography. I think the following list will adapt and change until I have about seventeen concepts that are relatively different from each other. Each will have to stand on it’s own as an exploration that I could build on over time. The other goal will be to make everything work together as a group of photographs that’s dynamic  and visual compelling. To get to that final list in the next month or so I’ll expand, add, and remove things from the following inventory over the next few months.  Hopefully I’ll also get a chance to try and execute a few of these in the near future as well. I imagine some just will not work well and I wont be able to tell until I try to execute.

1. Tarps –  I have a fascination with tarps. In particular the woven plastic variety. I’ve thought about doing various projects with them but the most resonant and the one I think has the most staying power is pretty simple. I’ll purchase as many basic colour tarps as possible. I imagine I’ll end up with; blue, orange, white, silver and green tarps. I”d prefer eight foot squares but I don’t want to incur the cost of having them custom made so I might have to get them a little larger and possibly rectangular rather than square. I plan to either hang these tarps after a particularly serious snowfall, or lie them on the fresh snow in a vacant lot somewhere. The goal is simply to get the colorful tarp square isolated within a framed, vibrant white background. This particular piece has an added dimension for me. I could easily just draw this, or create it in illustrator or Photoshop  but I want to create the composition with tarps and snow for some reason. In a way with Tarps I’ll be creating a very simple, minimal, abstract image in a fairly complicated and involved manner. I see these as physical sculptures that represent very minimal paintings.

So it’s Monday a few weeks after I originally wrote this part of the post on Tarps and I have yet to find the perfect tarpaulins. I’ve also realized a more practical way of executing these pieces. I’ll simply build a whack of square stretched canvas frames. I could make them in a myriad of sizes, but all square. The goal would be to create two pieces. One would be the photographs. No matter what size the square stretched canvases are, each of the image will easy translate to a 36 x 36 square print. The actual painted pieces could easily be planned and created to interlock into one big square wall piece of painting.

The following is an image I found today that represents the square of squares idea I was thinking about. This is from an amazing math site called the Global Constraint Catalogue I’m going to do my best to understand how they figured this out, but this is what the larger “square” piece from the Monday revelation would look like although I’ll be working with twenty one different colour panels. I’d like to see if I could make the twenty one colours represent something other than just the minimum number of squares for squaring the square. So now I look for a colour system in history that relied upon 21 colours. I may just create my own colour wheel with 21 blocks on it if I can’t find anything relating to 21 in Josef Albers theory of colour.

There’s a derivative of Tarps I’ve recently thought about that I’ll probably try to do as well. It could be an easier lift. For this derivative shoot I would ask the guy who has moved into the industrial spot on our street if I can use the exterior of his building. He’s place is called Factory and he has the occasional party.  Anyway I’ll just simply ask him if I could use the front widows of the building. it’s a nice brick facade with five largish industrial widows. I’d simply take the tarps of different colours and configure them to cover those windows to varying degrees. Some might be covered completely, some might be organically and naturally draped so some of the underlying widow could be seen. I’d then fame the windows in the viewfinder in various manners to create pieces that would represent diptychs, or triptychs of the tarped windows.

2. Boxes – I hope to use the tarps from the first concept in this piece but I’m not trying to  connect the two pieces. I’d shoot Boxes in the spring or summer. While exploring for Wandering I happened upon a series of utility boxes in the green space wedged between the Lakeshore and the Gardiner Expressway. These probably hold switching devices, light controls or something utility related. Whatever their purpose they aren’t high voltage or anything and don’t appear to be touchy or they wouldn’t be fully accessible to pedestrians. The plan is to cover the various boxes with tarps in such a way that they simple become colorful geometric shapes surrounded by landscaped natural stuff. I’m hoping they’ll look bizarre enough to be engaging and and that they will retain measure of aesthetic attraction for me. If this doesn’t work I’ll simply opt for a self portrait in a field of me wrapped in one of the tarps. I may need to get assistance for these “self portraits”. I’m not entirely sure I could manage wrapping myself up the way I want to while maintains safety level that’s comfortable. I’ll also have to get a remote control shutter release for the camera so I can take a true self portrait in this manner.

3. White – is a result of some images I found on line. While trying to explain Tarps above I came across a bunch of sites that described creating shelter structures in the woods. Specifically there was one site that showed how to create a simple protective draping out of a white tarp hung over a taught line and then stretched via the corners to various trees where it was tied down. It immediately struck me that the white tarp became a shape in the photographic frame that appeared alien to the scene and therefore more resembled a Photoshopped subtraction of colour in the photo than an actual physical structure within the setting of the photo. The image I create will hopefully amplify this effectively  Again I’m using a physical manipulation of space to appear like a digital manipulation of the space. If I’m trying to say anything I’m working on early themes and suggesting that there’s something of value in the effort even if the results are attainable by some other easier method. IN a way this embraces my ideas on inconvenience being more attractive to me than comfort or convenience.

4. Leaves - This plan is for next fall when I would be to head to my neighborhood Campbell Park and rake leaves. Not for the sake of actually bagging them up but just to take pictures of the resultant shapes. In my head I picture raking a big pile into an elliptical shape that when viewed from a bit of distance appears as a complete and well shaped circle that hovers within a field of deep green grass. I figure if I get up early enough om some nice and cold fall day when it’s dark and rake until sunlight nobody would be awake to bother me. The idea of someone coming along and seeing the weirdly eccentric and anally arranged leaf pile also interests me. Hopefully it will make someone smile, or at least scratch their head.

5. Paths – This is another one of those ideas that’s been percolating with me for four or five years. I once took an unassuming photograph of a small worn path in a patch of grass. The image has stayed with me and I often think about it and that path. For this proposed piece I’d find a vacant field. It might be worth my while to locate something like a clearing in a forest or a clearing or meadow of tall grass. I’d then figure out what sort of line might enhance the composition and create that line in the field by walking back and forth over a predetermined path for hours and hours. This piece would also have an inherent meditative aspect to it. I think I’d really like the repetitive route and the slow trampling of the path. I see this as a meandering route through the heart of a meadow, but I’ve also thought about more absurd paths. A circular route that by it’s nature is endless. A circle around a tree would also be interesting yet harder to capture with the camera. In writing this it might be interests to create such a circular path around a tree, but have it actually branch off “behind” the tree out of the frame or view of the camera. there’s an absurdity here I like that correlates to The Task that I performed for Nuit Blanche.

6. Cone – With an average size bag or bags of gravel I’d create a conical pile. I think I’d have to experiment with it to figure out how to create the structure, but I’d want to make something a bit stretched so it would fighting against gravity to be built. Maybe I’d have to build some sort of retaining cage, plexi-glass housing or at the very least some sort of internal structure to allow the conical mound to be built taller and slimmer than if it was dumped out the back of a truck. I see this on a sidewalk or a paved road somewhere. Maybe it’s on a paved road like that goes nowhere and isn’t used anymore in the country. Those cul de sacs you see from the 401 on the way to Barrie come to mind. Dirt roads that really provide access to houses but are not through routes and end in a circular nothingness. Maybe it’s in the  path of some access way to a now defunct quarry

7. Clearing – These images would be related to Leaves and Paths above. In a large long grass field I’d create different sized clearings. I figure I could do this with a scythe, hedge trimmers or in a more detailed and controlled manner with a pair of scissors. The clearings could be simply small areas of grass cut to different heights, or areas of grass sculpted to create contours of different heights. Rather than cut a chunky circle out of a field, I could cut a well formed half-sphere. I could do this in farmers field. It could be done in corn or some other crop. The ideal would be to select a smaller area of a wheat field and carve out the spheres sculpting the wheat into a topographical sculpture. For this I’d need to get a small plot of land for myself for this purpose. That could be an added dimension that I’ve actually grown the material I use to sculpt.

8. Foliage – This came to me while at my brother’s place on lake Huron. It’s a very idyllic and quiet place.

In dense deciduous overgrowth, carve a path to allow light to travel from one area to another. Take pictures of the sculpted holes. This could be in a single tree’s leaf canopy or the canopy of multiple trees. The goal would be to create a straight pathway to the open air and sunlight. I’m not sure that the foliage could be shaped in such a way that –without being detrimental to the tree– the carved open path in the canopy focuses beams of light onto the floor of the forest in places. It might actually be easier to do with PVC conduit that reaches beyond the canopy and is angled in such a way to allow sunlight at a certain time of day to be focused down it’s length ending in circles on the forest floor. There might be easier ways to do this using tarps with holes cut out of them suspended over the forest floor that I could fool around with and manipulate the natural light.

9. Nails – At one time I was working on a new concept for a performance or installation piece for Hamilton’s annual Supercrawl. I never ended up submitting my proposal but it focused on Stelco or the steel industry. The common Ardox nail was developed there. The Ardox is still the nail of choice in the construction industry. But I digress. The fact is that the image of a three or four inch Ardox nail has stuck with me for over a year. It’s my Twitter account identifying image. It can be seen on my Facebook page.

For this piece I would take a thirty pound box of four inch Ardox spiral nails and dump it in the middle of a concrete floor somewhere to be photographed. I’d sculpt the pile or simply spread the contents out over the floor, spacing each nail in such a way that it didn’t impinge on any neighboring nails space. I could completely cover the floor in this manner or alternately create a pathway that mimics a river bed. I like the geometric idea of covering the whole floor’s surface because it reminds me somewhat of an Agnes Martin painting.

10. Topiary - Construct weird unfamiliar shapes out of wire mesh, or whatever is used in topiary construction and grow the plants in over the course of the year. In writing this I think the idea is unattainable. I’m fairly certain that I’ll need to grow the plants for a few years to get to the point where I can trim them to the realise the shapes I’m thinking about in the type of density I’m imagining.

11. Lights. Take a dark street and a relatively obscured home or building with a solitary front facade window. The idea is to pile interiors lamps into the window and let their light spill out into the darkness and then capture. Hopefully the image will be intensely bright and somewhat blasted at it’s core and then fade off into complete blackness in every direction. This idea might be better served by heading out into the country with a small generator and a bunch of lights. I could then set up the mass of lights in a confined space. I see these as floor lamps of adjustable heights. I’d photograph these from a fair distance away where the light has little to no effect.

12. Cups -  Somewhere to be determined in the city. Spend a few weeks visiting a certain location and then walking around the vicinity and collecting empty coffee or drink cups. It will take a few weeks to get enough to be dramatic and I’ll have to find a place to store the bags of cups prior to executing the shoot.

After I’ve got four or five garbage bags of cups I can take them to a predetermined spot and pile them and arrange in what looks like a haphazard manner in some weird doorway, or beside some lonesome bench somewhere. The idea is to create this unreal pile of trash created by an unidentified and fictitious person. This might be too staged.

13. Packaging – I worked on this for about an hour several months ago and produced a work that was sort of interesting. I took the exterior box from a common tube of toothpaste and sliced into sections like a loaf of bread them rearranges those sections so each was slightly offset from the other and photographed. While writing this it might be more compelling to cut the packing via laser into a series of shapes, maybe circles, then discard any excess packaging and “rebuild” the package like a jigsaw that instead of interlocking joins together with suggested space. This is definitely an interior piece and as such deviates slightly from the other concepts. It also involves a fairly complex technology and by virtue of this is removed from the simpler concepts in this grouping. This one might be better left for a show that focuses on similar projects. I could see developing a series of these studio shots taken on white or black backgrounds.

14. Balloons – This is an idea that just came out of nowhere. I’ll live with it for a bit and see if has merit. It might be too cute to be of any worth. I can see it being relatively humorous but the trick will be to keep it from being too contrived. I imagine the loading dock overhang at the old Outside Music office on Carlaw in the east end of the city. This was  was relatively low-fi when I knew it fifteen years ago.  On the dock I could fill a few hundred helium balloons and let them rise, constrained by the overhang of the dock itself. The bland and industrial location would contrast nicely with the lighthearted and celebratory balloons. Alternately I could completely fill a squash court or build enclosures to contain the spaces behind windows in various buildings and shoot these in such a way that an illusion is created of a house or building  being completely filled with to overflowing with balloons.

15. Books – This would be a bit similar to the secondary premise for Balloons.

In doorways at my house, completely fill up each space where the doorway should be with a wall of books, spine out so all you see are the page edges crammed into the door jams. The whole piece should suggest a feeling of being trapped or confined. Maybe a sense of mystery and intrigue at the reasoning for the walls, or again perhaps it will suggest that the room beyond is complete rammed with books. Again, as I write this I’m now thinking this is a partner image to the balloons concept. It could be expanded with other household articles. Maybe I pile the doorways full of clothes, or maybe the coffee cups can be arranged in openings. I could manage a multitude of articles to convey the same or different things. Books, balloons, clothing, coffee cups, water bottles, newspapers, old electronics, etc.

16. Holes – Simply dig a perfect cylindrical hole in clay or in dirt using water to form the sides and prevent them from caving in like you might build a sand castle. Picture the reverse of a sandcastle carved out of a dirt field before construction begins. It could end up being a concave sculpture that resembles a tiered landscape.

This is one of those ideas that has stayed with me since the creation of The Task for Nuit Blanche. I see this as a performance piece filmed. I start with a near pile of implements and proceeds like I’m creating an archaeological dig. The end goal though is to create the space, not to discover stuff. It might turn out however to be about discovering stuff as well. Urban archaeology.

17. Blind - Another spur of the moment concept. I figured this one out while writing the older ideas above.

Using heavy gauge fishing line or some other reasonably hidden support method I plan to hang window blinds in mid air as if suspended and closing off the light to an invisible building. I think I could rig these on fishing line that’s suspended from the underside of the pedestrian bridge by my house.

18. Falling - I just had a dream that gave me another a idea. In October 2013, after the leaves have dropped from the trees in High Park. Take coloured paper and create paper leaves that will biodegrade. Make these multiple colours, or one very vivid and uncharacteristic fall leaf colour like white, or maybe blue. Whatever the decision, place the “fake” leaves under trees in what would will look like a surreal second fall. This could a two part project. One part could be the leaves photographed in different locations in the park. Go into the location early, Maybe 4 or 5:00 and create the pieces. Shoot them when the sun comes up. The other part could be to wait until people start to populate the park and take pictures of them interacting with the leaves, or maybe even a video. Maybe someone will come along and re-arrange them or rake them up.

A better less “cute” idea might be to make circular leaves, or geometric shaped leaves, so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to “copy” the leaf shape. Maybe 3 dimensional paper sculptures? I series of different sized-sized cubes all in black?

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Wandering Toronto

Wandering – January 12 – 26th, Bau-Xi Photo, 324 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Directly across from the AGO.

Artist in Attendance: January 12, 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. After that I can arrange to be at the gallery by appointment over the 2 week run. If you want to see the work prior to the opening or the exhibition dates please contact Rosie Prata or Julie Piotrowski at Bau-Xi Photo via e-mail at info@bau-xiphoto.com or by calling 416-977-0400.

The Bau-Xi Photo exhibition catalogue can be viewed by clicking here. Prices can be seen online at Bau-Xi Photo.

Descriptions and a brief explanation of how each photo happened can be found here.

Wandering is the personification of an ongoing love affair with urbanity in all its glory. With this series of images – shot in downtown Toronto – the artist continues to explore our relationship with the utilitarian by manipulating the context in which we see it and by protracting our interaction with it. Wandering: File under formalism, minimalism, found art, photography, math, OCD, hiking, humour, and colour.

If you’re interested in attending the opening there’s a Facebook event page with more info.

The following is an interview I did with Chris Shepherd about the show.

Opening – Dundas West Roncesvalles

Q. Wandering – what’s the significance of the title?
A. Wandering is what I do. I wander the city endlessly and take pictures. I visit places over and over again to do this, often returning to locations that resonate with me year after year after year. Wandering relaxes me and allows me to familiarize myself with a specific setting. It’s also an amazing way to find things. You can’t do that in a car or on a bicycle. I explore when I walk. Walking also slows things down incredibly and gives me time to think. After a while I see differently and I’m more likely to notice the subtleties of a location and hopefully I’m able to capture them in a way that means something to me. Typically this process takes a few days to happen. It’s why most of my work is focused in Toronto. When I travel anywhere else it’s hard to get into that state of familiarity to achieve the same thing. I consider myself a pedestrian first and foremost. There’s a great French noun that seems relevant– flâneur– it comes from the verb flâner meaning “to stroll”. The wiki definition of that term is fascinating. I also really like the term urban pastoral to describe the images in this series.

From a different angle Wandering reflects my recent mental state. Lately I’ve been wandering from my art practice and into middle age. Wandering describes the somewhat confounding mental shift I’ve experienced in my photographic practice. I’m constantly thinking of projects but they’re increasingly more photo-based than traditional photographs. I conceptualize but I don’t execute. Wandering is rooted in a weird atmospheric mix of indecision and uncertainty. This exhibition was a journey and was challenging to produce psychologically. In the end I allowed myself to wander away from the rigid conceptualization and overall themes that I’ve fixated on over the past five years to arrive at the body of this work.

Electrical Panel – Bohemian Embassy Queen Street

Q. Where does this infatuation with pedestrian banality originate?
A. I like terms like banality, boredom, and pedestrian. I don’t associate them with the negative that others tend to instill them with. I’m an observer, and instead of observing the spectacular or the sublime I find interest in the everyday. There are enough people looking at the extraordinary. It took years to write my tiny artistic statement and I think it’s pretty funny that when distilled to the very core that statement becomes my Twitter description; “I enjoy looking at things that other people are not that interested in”. I have to slightly qualify that by saying “I enjoy looking at things that the majority of people don’t find interesting”. Out of the billions of people in the world there’s probably a few million who see the word in a similar way and for whom my work might resonate.

Hydro Pole – Don Valley Pathway

Q. Where are the people?
A. People interest me as a vehicle for my art to be viewed and in direct relation to it and not as a subject matter for it. Besides, I’m not that good at thinking about people in the context of my aesthetic right now. Maybe that will change, but for now I’m drawn to solitude and contemplation. The potential for people. It’s hard to express yourself and your interests honestly with others around. My interest lies in the serenity and the solitude I find in things and places. I’m not anti-social but I love being by myself in the city. People think it’s impossible to find peace here — I would strongly disagree. In the summer I’m often up at 5:00 a.m. on weekends and will have finished a good three hours of walking before a lot of people wake up.

Despite the fact that there are no people in my images, their presence can’t be escaped. I’m more interested in the notion of people and how a place resonates with their presence when no one is around. It’s not about ghost, but impressions. At one point I was working on a theory that –described loosely– postulated that a place only existed in a way that I found interesting because people had visited there and would visit there again. If you look at all my work almost everything I shoot is in a stasis between human interactions. It’s waiting for something to happen either tomorrow or in twenty years time. I’m interested in that potential of place.

Sandro Martini and Fan – Grenville at Bay

Q. About the square — what’s with the uniformity of the presentation and the subject?
A. My first camera was a Hawkeye Brownie that took 2 – 1/2 in square –120– film. It was B&W and I produced abysmally poor images taken on a primary school trip to African Lion Safari, I was probably about nine or ten. After that I grew up shooting 35 mm film. I’d save money and buy the most advanced consumer SLR of the day. My father did the same. As I got interested in producing work I got more advanced cameras but I always wanted to use a medium format. The 6 x 6 Hasselblad was the aspirational goal. After shooting so much 35 mm digital over the past ten years I’ve started to resent the prohibitive nature or of the 2:3 frame ratio and started began to visualize things in a frame aspect ratio of 1:1. Of course my camera shoots 2:3 ratio but as soon as I started thinking square it’s all I shot and composed in. I now constantly look at possible subjects and through the viewfinder with the intention of cropping to a square frame. I don’t think I can escape from the square file and frame thing. Now my dream is a full frame square sensor camera. I guess I could work on a Hasselblad 6×6 with a digital back but I’d prefer the comfort and familiarity of an SLR type rig. Maybe someday. That said I’m completely comfortable with my cropping scenario and my existing camera.

I’m also thinking about circular cropping abut still working this out. I think it has the potential to unlock a new world of image making for me, a world that questions the atypical presentation of art and the nature of the gallery. My theory is that it might transform the photographs into more or less sculptural works. This whole circular thing is based on the work of Kenneth Nowland or what I remember of his work. I remember him as someone who challenged and pushed against the limitations of the traditional frame.

Abacus Office – Dundas Street West

Q. These images seem a little more whimsical than Waiting and Learning. Was that intentional?
A. Completely. I’ve always appreciated humour. I really like the idea of contemporary art with a somewhat sharp sense of humour or the absurd. I think that’s why lately I enjoy work by people like Alex Kisilevich, John Sasaki, and Robyn Cummings –to name a few. I’ve also always liked the work of Tom Friedman for a long time. Hopefully my new work is funny and thoughtful without trying too hard. I’m a relatively melancholy person who loves a good laugh. I’m not really after belly laughs, but I do hope the work elicits a smile here and there. It’s relatively dark humour, but it’s still humour. Hopefully I’ve avoided irony.

Brush – Gardiner Expressway

Q. What’s your physical process.
A. I carry my camera everywhere but it doesn’t always make it out of my bag. My process is very focused on the image and composition and the work is about developing things in my head after seeing something that resonates with me. I do a lot of bus and streetcar riding but also a tremendous amount of walking and cruising around on a bicycle. I hate driving — not because of the act of driving– but because I can’t concentrate on what I see without being a bad driver. The bus is amazing because while you travel around the city you just see so much. I’ll pass the same place for days or months and then I start to think about it all the time. I’ll then make a conscious effort to revisit that location with the explicit intention of taking pictures. I go back until I’ve got what I feel is a strong piece. For some of the images in Wandering I revisited a location five or six times. Sometimes I don’t get anything I like over multiple visits and it takes years to capture what I’ve imagined is the picture. Again it’s about familiarity.

After I’ve got something I live with it. I put it up on my website and keep going back to look at it and write about it. If I grow tired of something I delete it and tend not to think of the image again. If I’m happy with an idea or image after a few weeks I work to expand on the concept.

I shoot on a Canon 5D Mark II and it’s plenty of camera for me. I use available lighting and tend not to use a tripod anymore. In photoshop I crop, curve, level, sharpen and saturate slightly to get the true colour I remember from the shoot. I find the Canon sensor is a bit understated for colour saturation but at the same time I’m careful not to overstate the colours in processing.

Shiatsu – Roncesvalles and Grafton

Q. What’s your relationship to the city?
A. I love it. I want to grow old in it and watch it change and expand. It pains me when people so blatantly show their dislike for it like our current mayor. He’s done more to destroy this city than anyone in his position has done in the past. I also think that cities in general –Toronto included– get a bum deal. After all, this city is a safe, vibrant, caring place to be. People outside the city are so ill informed about the actual nature of urbanity. I grew up in the suburbs, and a friend once captured a belief that I still hold. You live in the city or the country but why live in between? Don’t get me wrong, the city can be a drag at times, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything right now. I also mean no disrespect to the suburban, I’m just saying it’s not for me.

Seriously, the city is painted as unfriendly, cold, callous, dangerous and expensive. I’d argue these ideas are simply misconceptions. The city is arguably expensive, but I’m comfortable investing in culture than square footage any day. Our house is too big for us, but we’re also very lucky to even have a house. We couldn’t afford one in today’s market where we are. We have some furniture and we have art. We could get a bigger place in the suburbs but I wasn’t cut out to be “suburban”. I don’t need more space or more stuff.

I could go on an on, but the biggest reason I prefer the city is it’s socialist or humanist nature. Since I’ve lived in the city my sense of community and neighborliness has increased exponentially from my twenty years in the suburbs.

This Month Only – Dupont at Franklin

Q. Do you shoot film?
A. I shot film for about twenty years. As soon as digital came along I was in heaven. I’m not a photo purist. I respect technical ability in anyone, but it’s not my interest. I’m more interested in feeling that the image I want when I take it is captured. I dislike the uncertainty of film and the temperamental nature of processing. The time lag is also somewhat separating for me. I hate waiting to work an image. I also dislike darkroom work. I was never good at it and always had an aversion to the chemicals. Add to that the fact that I could never produce a final product that I was happy with when I was a kid and I never bothered to fully invest in the practice to get better. I really do just like shooting and thinking about finished images. Digital works great for me and I’m fairly competent in Photoshop with simple manipulation. I have a 4 x 5 that a friend gave me to use, and so far I’ve been thinking about it and know I’ll shoot 4 x 5 before I’m done, but right now it’s just not top of my list.

I’m also not interested in perfect clarity. I’m fine with a bit a noise, or a slight focus problem. I’ve recently come to appreciate the quote that “sharpness is a bourgeoisie concept”. I can’t claim to take that statement by Henri Cartier-Bresson completely serious though, because I’m middle class and I’m dealing in a cultural commodity. I’m also pretty anal with my images and I do like a degree of clarity.

Hose and Graffitti – Bay Street

Q. Is there a spiritual aspect to your work or an underlying philosophy?
A. Hopefully my work is about simplification and purity of vision. I like to associate it with words like; math, Zen, fixation, peace, serenity and compulsiveness. I really do love the mundane, still, image. Minimalism and formalism are definitely at my works core. In particular I’ve always been drawn to what I’ll call minimal and formalist painting like that of of Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Albers, Agnes Martin, and Sol LeWitt. There are a bunch of others, but those are the names I know the best.

In a way I’m trying to slow things down, I think the cliche “stop and to smell the roses” is great, only my roses tend to be a bit dirty and — more often than not– smell like motor oil or garbage and no one really looks at them.

RBC – Ossington and College

Q. How do you get access to some of the interior locations?
A. Usually I don’t. For this show’s fifteen images I never accessed anything that anyone couldn’t have by walking by. Even the interior shots are taken from outside those spaces through the glass. Gaining access is a real downer for me and more often than not it disappoints and frustrates me. Given that I’m also uncomfortable taking advantage of a situation or going where I’m not suppose to go it makes it difficult. I hate confrontation and try to avoid it at all costs. My earlier shows based on the subway or school systems relied on legal permissions and I didn’t want that to be an aspect of this body of work. Someday it would be awesome to be successful enough that I could get someone to do the work of getting me access to places. For now though I don’t need it.

Hoarding and Tree – West Elm East of Jefferson

Q. What inspires you?
A. Early on it would have been other image makers. The painters, the writers and to some degree photographers. I tend to see less photography now that I’m seriously producing it. I find it difficult to get passed the idea of original thought and there are so many photographers doing such good work the odds of me originating an idea executed by another photographer is rather frustrating. I’m working to realise you can’t work in a vacuum but to help me avoid those feelings of disappointment I prefer to look at painting, sculpture, performance and drawing instead of photography. At one point I would say film and literature inspired me, but lately I’ve almost completely stopped looking at movies and reading. By avoiding a lot of photography, if I do come up with something and execute it then happen to see similar work I’m OK. I’ve executed and who cares that there are similar projects out there.

I do think that the work of some amazing photographers has become part of my subconscious and without ever seeing it again it informs how I see the world. I would never be shooting what I’m shooting if I hadn’t seen or read about these artists. My list of big names would include; Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Jeff Wall, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Lyne Cohen, Edward Burtynsky, Robert Polidori, and Andreas Gursky to name a few.

Currently I’m inspired by almost anything I see.

Post Office – Millwood and Malcolm

Q. Do you have a favourite image from the series?
A. No. There are four or five of the fifteen I think about all the time, but that doesn’t mean they’re my favourites. I also think about the images I didn’t include that could possibly have made the cut for January. I got input from the gallery on the final selection because I felt a bit too close to the work. I have no trouble editing down to a certain level but then I like help to figure out what someone –who’s not me– likes or doesn’t like. For this show we didn’t include a few pictures I felt were pretty good, but I agreed somewhat with someone else’s comments and I really needed to cut a few. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the images we didn’t include anymore, but I really appreciate the external opinion. I don’t necessarily get criticism on any honest level. It would be nice to hang out at a show and be a fly on the wall. If people don’t like the work they tend to clam up and not say anything. Sometimes that’s disappointing. I like talking about myself and the work. I kid myself that I’d even like to do that if someone really dislikes the images. Truth is I don’t have the thickest skin yet. I’m self conscious about my work.

Despite this though I really should say that my favourite image is Sandro Martini and Fan – Grenville at Bay. This isn’t because I want it hanging in my house any more than the others, but because there’s a bit of a narrative to it. That photograph helped me break out of a fairly serious slump. It was also the image that took the most work in this series to produce because I had to track down the artist who’s work is prominently featured in the image through his Toronto gallery to get his permission to include it in my show. Sandro Martini ended up being very gracious and approved very quickly. When I look at this image I think of how nice a gesture that was. He could have been a complete dick. He seemed genuinely OK with it. It means a lot to me. If he hadn’t approved I would have never printed the image.

StorageMart – Research Road

Q. When was the work for Wandering shot?
A. The earliest image is from the beginning of 2012, but the majority of work here was shot in the summer and fall of 2012. Once I put my head down and decided to book a show I needed work to fill the walls. This forced me back to the street and back to looking. In the past I’ve created the work and then booked a show, but I was dragging my ass so badly that I seriously thought I was going to give it all up. I realized then I love being an artists and really want to continue. I didn’t want to fail because of a mental glitch. Sometimes a goal is a good way to get your ass in gear especially when it’s sort of self-inflicted. I would also never let my gallery down. They’ve been pretty amazing to me. I’m happy with this work, and it never would have happened if I didn’t really look at myself and realize I was in serious danger of fucking up an opportunity that millions of people never get. That quite simply I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be an artist. I really believe that it’s a totally privilege and not a right. I bet I get in trouble for saying that.

Log – Don Valley Pathway

Q. What’s next?
A. I have a list of projects that I’ve been compiling on my website. It started out as a notebook on my phone, but I eliminated about 90% of the ideas because I felt they were sort of lame. There are about 100 post on my site that go through a range of ideas and about fifty percent of those are involving photography. There are six or seven photography projects that I’ll definitely pursue, but I need to finish the studio in the basement first. I’m more interested lately in retreating from the streets a bit and focusing on some weirder projects that are photo based.

As for more traditional projects I’m still very interested in expanding on the Learning series of educational architectural picture. for that matter anything I’ve done already I’d like to continue to develop and shoot. That includes the subway. I’d love to get into the London underground for a month or so. I’d also like to expand on the hospital images I’ve shot and maybe get access to any other more institutional places. I’m fascinated with the older architecture somewhat ubiquitous in the public institutional world.

Q. What’s your favourite colour?
A. Orange

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Deconstruction

Deconstruction was conceived while I cleaned our kitchen to within a inch of its life.

Deconstruction is about waste, technology, built-in obsolesce, transformation, reconstruction and reuse.

I plan to take obsolete items, trash and other stuff and take it apart. I’ll then take the component pieces and arrange them into patterns — spirals, labyrinths, squares, etc. so that they create aesthetically interesting and colourful compositions. I can then take photographs of these parts and blow them up to obscene proportions.

I think my old iphone, ipod, USB stick, and other similarly complex items would work well. I may need a soldering iron. I could also do the same thing with small appliances; toasters, blenders, etc.

Other material that could work are household and personal consumables. Things like twin-blade cartridges for my razor. If I was to get access to a laser cutter I could maybe take a blade and slice it up like a loaf of bread then photograph those slices neatly arranged in a line with my macro lens and print. Some sort of crazy cutting implement would make almost anything fair game.

Both ideas revolve around thoughts of waste and the North American disinterest of big business to be environmentally conscience. It’s also a simple extension of my central thesis simply stated, “looking at things that others aren’t interested to look at.” There’s an added element of my brother Peter who was always interested in taking things apart and rebuildig them. For me though this is not about funtionality. It’s more like sculpture. It’s also found art that existed all the time. I’m just reconfiguring stuff.

The most important piece has solidified in my mind and it’s the razor blade sliced into 5 or 6 pieces then photographed.

More and more I think about sculpture.

Here’s a 15 minute version that illustrates one possible approach.

Deconstruction indirectly comments on the annoying digital vs analog debate in photography and film. Here, instead of using Photoshop to easily and accurately create the Deconstructed then Reconstructed images I desire, the process will be done manually.  Painstaking physical manipulation to create an effect that others could easily do with little or no effort via a digital process. These physically constructed shots will then be captured digitally which further obscures the process creating an ironic tension.

Related to this I’ve been thinking of a statement that reads something like; “Do you dislike digital because it’s the inferior to analog, or because you’re afraid now that with millions of image makers publishing on-line you’re mediocre talents will be discovered and you will be eclipsed?

This stance is not a denial of analog, but an annoyance at those individuals who take the elitist position that digital sucks. I find these folks annoying in their arrogance and denial of a new generation of image makers who will quickly eclipse them.

 

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Braille

Braille is the beginning. It’s the first work in preparation for the series called “Seeing” that I’ve been planning for over a year. I’ve decided to practice writing Uncontracted or Grade One Braille until I get reasonably fluent. Then I’ll start working on the planned large scale series. For now I’m doing a series of Braille gifts that I’m leaving all over the city. By the time I finish these in a few months I should have the ability to write without making too many errors.

For this first piece I decided on a regular 8.5 x 11 sheet of Braille with a spontaneous note on it. I wrote this using a traditional Braille slate and stylus while “Waiting” in a Hospital lounge for some stuff to get done. The text basically does little other than introduce the fact that I’m sighted and studying how to write Braille and that I ultimately plan to turn this skill into an art piece. It took me about an hour. Once I finished the piece I left it on a chair in a hospital waiting room in hopes that someone would pick it up and try and decipher it. Most likely it will end up in the trash, but that’s OK.

Here’s the piece on my lap, and below as it looked as I left it on the chair “in situ” waiting to be picked up or trashed by the cleaners.The second “Gift” piece was done on a smaller piece of paper. I wrote it while on the bus leg of my journey to work on Tuesday and it says something like, “Stranger, I think everyone suffers from some sort of blindness.” I left this on the seat of the bus.Wednesday’s message was again short. I left this one in a NOW! newspaper box. This one’s a bit weirder and maybe construed as slightly creepy. I hope not, but I think I’ll stay away from semi-poetic works. This ones translates to ” Stranger, I would talk to you for as long as I could about love if you would listen. C.S. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I just read the Braille to recall that’s what I had written. I’m definitely learning.Thursday’s's piece was rather longish but only took about 20 minutes which I’m pretty proud of. I’m getting faster every time I make one of these things and I’m looking at the cheat sheet less and less. I made this one on the subway at rush hour. Rather than deposit it on the seat and get questioned by people as I left I waited for the crowd to get off the train and left it on a bench on the platform at the Dundas West stop. If someone from the train that was arriving when I left it didn’t pick it up it probably blew into the tunnel somewhere. I think I’ll avoid doing that in future. I don’t want the TTC charging me with something, and I could see them doing so. I can leave these in the foyer of certain stations where they wont be subject to such heavy winds caused by the tunnels and trains.

Friday I did two pieces, one for a very nice co-worker who seems genuinely interested in my somewhat self indulgent projects, and another I deposited on a Dundas West station bench on the mezzanine level as shown below.

The plan for the future larger project called “Seeing” is to take existing photographic images and describe them in text. Then take that text and convert it into Braille and hand print the result using a slate I will custom fabricate to be about the size that the work described would be printed. Tehse will most likely be about 24 inches square. I’ll take pictures of these larger text filled Braille sheets and then make them into photographic prints. It sounds a bit confusing but it’s not really.

I see this work as being photography — a visual art– translated and manipulated through a a series of languages and forms then re-generated once again into a photograph. I’m interested in how the meaning will change as the medium fluctuates and the discussions and interactions it might encourage.

I’ve also made some headway and discovered an artist friendly laser cutting place that’s actually pretty convenient. I need them to cut the individual, page-sized slates I have and create the super large custom slate. This place is around College around Dufferin. I’ll stop in next week with my six individual page-size slates and get them to cut them so I can create a giant 24″ x 24″ slate that I can put a big piece of paper into.

Practice is going well and I really enjoy writing Braille. Once I’ve executed 10 or so large scale works I can take a course and learn Contracted, or Grade 2 Braille. It’s a little more common in the published Braille world but a lot more involved to learn and read. I can see Braille being a very large part of my upcoming work. It’s such a wonderful and cool form of communication.

 

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Healing

I shot this series of images at a small rural hospital in Seaforth, Ontario. I have a very nice relative who is a Dr. there and she was nice enough to get me access. I loved it and would really like to continue this series someday but I think getting into other hospitals is going to be mind-numbingly difficult. That’s my problem in general -getting access to photograph places. The subway was super hard to negotiate. It took me years. Schools were difficult as well. Hospitals will be very hard to get into. Sometimes I think I should just grow some balls and shoot without permission, but I find I’m uncomfortable doing that and when I’m uncomfortable I don’t shoot well.

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Ghetto Christo

Buy five or six tarps of various primary colors. After a heavy snow fall venture out into the wintery freshness and wrap objects with the tarps and take pictures. With the preponderance of white background the created colour sculptures should contrast in a spectacular way

Colours:
Orange
Blue
Brown
White
Red
Yellow

Things to wrap
Telephone boxes
Benches
Fire hydrants
Hydro poles
Fences
Cars

A variation on this theme would be to do self portraits after wrapping myself in the tarps. I imagine this could be slightly sinister. Either simply log roll myself up in a tarp in front of a camera that’s positioned for the purpose, or get someone to help me wrap myself in a way that facilitates using a remote.

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Viewpoints

When taking the subway I wait until a train arrives that’s not completely rammed with people. I refuse to run or even walk quickly to catch a waiting train.

While waiting I look for ways to change my experience. To depart from the ritual. Sometimes I’ll buy coffee, or I’ll wait for three or four trains to pass. I’ll stand at different parts of the platform, or at different angles than the traditional passenger might. Different angles is so far my favourite

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Blindness

Create an elaborate light-proof set. Populate it with sighted people and get them to perform tasks in that darkness. Every now and then shoot with the flash, the light willgive them glimpses of what they are doing and allow them to organize but also capture each subjects relief for a brief glimpse of the sighted world.

A variation or an adjunct to tis concept is to set up portrait lighting on a given subject. Turn out all light and allow the subject and photographer to acclimatize to complete darkness and then shoot a photograph that focuses on their dilated pupils. In a way this would result in the temporarily blind taking a picture of a temporarily blind subject.

Film the whole thing as well and use the combination of both for the exhibition.

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Waiting

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Waiting was my first show at Bau-Xi Photo. It ran in the summer of 2010. I got a bit of press including this nice little piece in Eye Weekly by David Balzer.

Here’s my artist statement from way back then.

I’m interested in the potential or possibility of places and objects. His fascination is with things—not for what they are or what they’re proscribed to be—but for what they could be and how they can be seen.

In Waiting, different parts of the Toronto and New York subway systems are captured in various stages of flux. Bereft of people and purpose, these utilitarian spaces are re-imagined and assigned a different aesthetic value. Waiting transforms hectic spots into serene, contemplative sanctuaries.

Waiting itself directly refers to hanging around long enough for foot traffic and people to disappear. It also calls out the converted state of the spaces. No longer intersections of movement or places of mass congregation, the locations now wait to be refilled. Finally, waiting calls out patience and a desire to slow the normal day to day down and transform purposeful but sometimes mindless action into equally productive contemplative silence and peace.

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Cubism

Somehow take pictures of people naked in a glass cube surrounded by green screen. Have them strain to push against as much of the cube as possible, which will in turn give their image a sense of the invisible cube. Then take that image of the body and suspend it in the middle of the frame of another landscape photograph. These should then resemble people in cube form suspended magically in mid air in various other scenes.

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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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Paths

In a meadow or on some secluded lawn, subtly mark out a 50′ circle. Preferably in a bit of a depression, valley, or beside a hill.

Set up a video camera and shoot a pic that encompasses the circumference of the circle, also shoot a still image of the secluded lawn prior to the performance.

Start filming as I repeatedly walk around and around the perimeter of the marked circle. Try it for like 6 hours or until a well worn path has emerged. Stop filming.

Take a picture of the newly created path.

Would be really cool in a dirt field in the rain. The mud would exaggerate and amplify the path.

I was toying with the idea of creating and photographing or filming more pathways like ‘circular path” with the same theme. A path that abruptly ends, a path that leads directly into water or over a cliff, one that leads directly into a wall, one that turns with an abrupt right angle, several pathways to parked cars suggesting the same route to a parked car is taken every day, two pathways that head directly towards each other then abruptly end.

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June 1st, 2012 addition
Adendum for Paths

Experiment with different methods of giving a birds eye view

Scaffold
Existing structure
Wires
Skimmer pole

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