Common/Uncommon

Common/Uncommon is new sculpture. I thought the current object I was making was the endgame, but it appears this and others are only steps in a process in determining a larger body of work.

I present the “Pineapple”. That’s not its real name but it sort of resembles a pineapple. A blue pineapple.

0M6A3274This is, a 10 foot square blue tarp cut into 5 inch squares which are then drilled in the center and pierced with a 12″ galvanized common nail. There may be more nonsensical work in a series of similar objects. I can see different colour tarps being employed in different cut out shapes to make a trio of similar objects. Hopefully this weekend I can find an orange tarp at least. I looked a while back and found a myriad of different shades.

I’m wondering what the most common colour is for a construction site tarp. It must be blue or orange. Those seem ubiquitous. I’ve just checked Home Depot and Rona and both have a very limited supply. They seem to be all about the blue tarp. But Rona does has a camouflage one. I guess that’s for the hunter/end of world enthusiast. OK< looks like I have to break my boycott of Crappy Tire and shop there. They have reasonably inexpensive orange, silver, white and dusty brown shades.

The next step however in Common/Uncommon-came to be me in the middle of the night–will be to sculpt a house painting brush out of three colours of house painting masking tape.

 

 

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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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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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Construct – Vancouver, April 2016

Construct

April 9th-23rd BAU-XI Gallery2nd Floor, 

3045 Granville Street West, Vancouver

Construct is part of the Capture Photography Festival happening in April, 2016.

Construct is a series of interventions on physical photographic prints. Through shredding, cutting, tearing, folding, crumpling and other acts, photographs are reimagined and reconfigured into sculptural forms. These new objects are then re-shot and the journey—from taking to making and back to taking—allows the viewer to re-evaluate the conventional language of photography. Memory, nostalgia, documentation and other established tropes of the medium become secondary to the form and object, opening a dialogue about what an image is and what it means.

My artistic practice to date has focused on large scale photographic prints. Underpinning that work has always been an overriding interest and affection for painting and sculpture by both the Geometric Abstractionists of the 1960s and Contemporary and Conceptual artist of today and the last 50 years. Construct is a conscious effort to move from “taking” pictures to “making” pictures within this frame of reference. The work in this series uses either existing artist proofs or newly photographed pieces specifically shot and printed to work with the new processes of manipulation. These processes deliberately avoid technology and opt instead for mundane and repetitive physical actions. This also adds an archaic, durational aspect to the work that is simultaneously uncomfortable and meditative.

The following were all created in January and February of 2016.

2.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFoldedRed Brick Wall Folded, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 started with a 1 foot square photograph of a red cinder block wall taken outside a local Toronto Coffee Time. I didn’t originally photograph this wall with the idea of folding it, but when looking back through images I had, I thought it would work well for either crumpling or stripping.

A few years ago I purchased a book that outlines basics of paper folding for design and architectural purposes, and remembering that I had it I decided to experiment with the red brick wall photo. This process has been rolling around in my brain for a few years but I had never tried to execute. This image verified that my imagined process could be worked with photographic paper.

3.FINAL_36x36_RedBrickWallFolded2Red Brick Wall Folded Verso, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I felt this second version of Red Brick Wall Folded, 2016 was necessary to explain its companion. Here all I’ve done is flip the folded/dinted paper shape from the first image over and shot it at another angle so that the white back of the paper is not visible. The effect makes it looks like a totally different shape.  I plan to expand and experiment more with this technique. These images represent the first time I’ve tried this despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. This is pretty standard with my practice. I think about something, I think about it more, and then usually forget it for a while. If it comes back to me, it’s usually clearer and makes more sense, which makes it more imperative to execute.

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Bowie Sky Cubed, 2016 – Edition of 7 – Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

All three of the Bowie Sky images in this show were created from photographs specifically shot to be printed, then manipulated and then reshot. The Bowie thing just happened.

I typically plan when I’m going to take pictures, and on this particular day I had planned to go to a parking lot in the city to take pictures of the sky for this series. This relied on it being a clear day and that there was also defined cloud cover. Bowie died the night before.  I don’t look at these pieces as a tribute to Bowie, for me to do that would be trite and contrived. It was how it happened though and these have become a constant reminder to me of how I felt the morning that Bowie died and what he had meant and would continue to mean and symbolize to me. Of the three Bowie Sky images in this show, this one was created first.

11.FINAL_36x36_BowieCloudsStrippedBowie Sky Stripped, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

While making the cubed version of this trio I imagined making this one. The original photographs for these are all 18 x 18 inches square. I have a new cutting board and a large supply of Olfa utility knife blades. I also bought a very snazzy 48” ruler that has a steel insert along one edge, a rubber backing to hold the print down and stop it from moving around, and a substantial handle to lift my fingers away from the blade. These strips are all done freehand with that set up, then the strips are piled and finally re-arranged so they don’t appear anything like the original order in the original photograph. It’s surprisingly touchy work to re-arrange such strips of paper and I had to be very careful not to overlap the strips too much. I found the composition worked better when the white of the Foamcore backing showed through in paces to delineate each strip better.

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Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This was the last of the three Bowie Sky images. For this I took the strips used to build Bowie Sky Stripped, 2016 and individually curled each one—like you would curl ribbon when wrapping a present. Each strip becomes a circular loop and those loops are then piled together. Originally I hadn’t known they would form a sphere, it was a lucky happenstance. As I piled the loops they just naturally began to fall into a loosely formed ball.  I simply picked the structure up and pushed it together a bit in my hands to form the almost perfect sphere in the shot.  This is photographed at an angle, rather than directly above and straight on like most of my work. The sphere rests directly on a Foamcore backdrop.

4.FINAL_36x36_ColourCirclesonBlack2Colour Circles on Black 2, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is another print in the series that began developing in 2013 and like Colour Circles on White 22016 originated in the same way. Both the black and white backgrounds are sheets of Foamcore that I put on the floor of the studio. On top of each background a cardboard tube is placed and the colour discs are stacked and placed on the end of that cardboard tube so they are elevated off the Foamcore. These are shot directly from above. This process allows me to separate the foreground and background in Photoshop and make it easier to separate them into different layers. I can then easily underexpose the black and overexpose the white to remove most of the shadows and eliminate the texture of the Foamcore sheets while retaining the correct exposure for the colour circles.

9.FINAL_12x12_ColourCirclesonWhiteColour Circles on White 2, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

In 2013 I created six inch, circular, colour photographs in Photoshop. These were then printed as chromogenic prints and mounted to Dibond. Originally I took these discs and attached them on sticks and held them out in front of my camera and shot them surrounded by water, forest, or whatever. I’d then remove the stick with Photoshop. There was something about the manipulation that felt dishonest, so I abandoned that work. I then took the discs and started piling them up in the studio.  These are photographs of photographs like everything else in this show, but with these I was definitely thinking of Joseph Albers and Ellsworth Kelly’s work.

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Colour Circles Stripped and Formed, 2016 - Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

For this piece I went back into my files and selected an alternate version of an earlier Colour Circles on Black, 2016 print. I printed this derivative 18” square and then sliced up that 18” square photo—that looked vaguely like the 3 foot version in this show—in a manner like Bowie Sky Stripped and Formed. This worked wonderfully. The combination of black and coloured strips curled into loops and formed into a ball make a very graphic photograph. This isn’t surprising to me. Although I’ve had a Fine Art education and I’ve been exposed to Contemporary art in a serious way for the past 20 years, part of my practice is definitely inspired and informed by graphic design work. In particular, novel and record jackets with a healthy dose of architecture and furniture design thrown into the mix.

WORKING_GardinerCircles1Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

This is a manipulation from a 2012 work—Brush, Gardner Expressway. The original piece was exhibited in Toronto for the show Wandering. That original edition was printed at 36? x 36? size, and with that, 3 smaller 12? squares that I considered artists proofs. I used those smaller 12” versions for these circling effects.

In 2013 when I had started working more in the studio I purchased a set of metal punches from eBay for stamping out rubber gaskets. I figured that if they could stamp out rubber gaskets, they could easily stamp out circles from photographic prints. Oddly enough I had no luck with those punches. Fast-forward to 2016 and I bought a small, twelve-dollar, Olfa knife, the design of which is based on a simple compass structure. These images were created with that simple tool.

9.FINAL_36x36_GardinerCirclesinaSquareBrush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print 36 X 36 in.

This is a derivative of Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles Alone, 2016. That original image is made entirely of the circles that were cut out of an original square print. This image uses both the original desecrated print and the resultant circular pieces. This new piece was created because I felt that the print of just the circles was leaving something out, it was being untruthful to the viewer or at least suggesting something that I wanted to clarify. Here in Brush Gardiner Expressway Circles in Square, 2016 although the original print has been altered, the entire print is used in this version. I’m not really sure why this was important to me but it was. More and more I find myself not really knowing why, or not really knowing why at the time I create something, why I create it. After the fact though I can usually go back to each piece and understand where it came from, but it’s not always completely planned and executed. It’s becoming more spontaneous.

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Sky Crumpled, 2016 – Edition of 7 - Chromogenic print mounted on archival substrate 36 X 36 in.

I started crumpling in 2013. I tried to figure out how to engineer and build a crumpled piece of paper. Realizing that would be bordering on impossible I forgot about it for a while. While cleaning the studio one day I found a bunch of artist proofs. Feeling reckless and still thinking about crumples—I took the plunge and scrunched one up.  It was hard to do. Photographs hold a tangible power and it felt irreverent or criminal. Prints also cost money and it seemed like a bit of a waste. I soon got over those feelings and loved the results. This image for Sky Crumpled, 2016 was shot and printed intentionally to crumple up.  The resulting crumple was lit in the studio with a constant light source and shot it again, then enlarged and printed. The original photograph is 12” square.

This new body of work is ostensibly photography about photography and although it seems a rather abrupt change in direction for my work it developed rather slowly.

I’ve had a fairly short career making art. Although I’ve made things all my life and I’ve taken pictures for about 40 years, I’ve only been producing work, showing it and selling it for about 8 or 9 years. The majority of the work up to this point has been architecture based. In simple terms I take a lot of photographs of buildings and spaces.

Construct sets out to make things and to make those things I’m using photographs. More specifically I’m reconstructing photographs to be objects themselves. These constructed objects could be sculptures that stand on their own and are displayed as sculpture, but I’ve chosen to make them back into photographs. I like the permanence of that image, and I like the idea that they remain as the only record of a physical thing I’ve made.

To me these photographs are proof of things existing that only I’ve seen.

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Sliced

New show just might be Sliced, Crumpled, Shredded, Folded, and Scored photographs.

The only problem I’m having is why.

Initially this process of manipulations was about the willful destruction of a photograph. This is something that feels a little sacrilegious to me and I’m sure to others. Despite the nature of the digital image the physical photograph has an inherent value to me. Not just because I sell photographs, but also because of the history of the image itself and the memories it holds. One of the reasons I’m doing this is that it feels slightly wrong and that in itself feels strangely right. I’m destroying memory, or at least reconfiguring it.

This process is also about rebirth and redefinition. By taking an existing thing I’ve done and re-inventing it I’m creating something new out of something old. Without the pretentiousness or the mythology–this is sort of like the story of the Phoenix.

Repetition is soothing. I like endlessly cutting things into strips or shredding things. I like doing this manually when I could very easily use a machine or do the manipulation in Photoshop. There’s something deliberately archaic and anachronistic about the process. These are physical objects.

I’m also thinking of making these as 1 of 1s. The physical objects/subjects are 1 of 1s. Those physical objects are also sculptures. So I’m using photography to record a temporal sculpture.  The photographs are reminders of what was created. I was going to mount each of the sliced pieces, but the more I think about it the more I like the idea of them being fleeting. I may just pile all the strips in bags.

These photographs are also paradoxical. I’m re-arranging or reconfiguring memory by manipulating the original photographs and creating temporary sculptural pieces but I’m also recording those manipulated pieces of the past in new photographs. I think that explanation will have to be re-worded to make any sense. Hopefully when I re-read this I can figure it out enough to re-write.

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The aesthetic I’m very happy with–the what and the how. The more I write, the more I answer the why somewhat but maybe not enough to balance out the power of the aesthetic creation in my own head. I keep thinking that this work somewhat arbitrary when the images I’m using have a personal history but not a relationship to the process of manipulation. It’s half-baked. Without being cliche, perhaps there’s subject matter that I can specifically shoot then manipulate that will tie the aesthetic and the why together better. In a basic sense, clocks, or calendars might work. Something that represents the passage of time or the temporal. I’ve also thought of doing this with clouds. I like how the natural, or pseudo natural works in this process, better than how the architectural or man made does.

IMG_71248I think the answer lies in creating photographs of water, sky, forest, and nature, then re-imagining those photographs by folding, shredding, scoring, slicing, and folding.

Now, can I figure it out so it works completely in my head?

 

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Circular

Circular is an extension of Circles and Ellipses and Colour Theory. The images in this post are simple constructions shot with available light in my makeshift studio. I think the next step will be to get some more advanced type of lighting, maybe a better/truer black & white background material and to elaborate the constructions.I’ll print these as single photographs, no edition. This will make each photograph unique and bring me closer to sculpture/painting. I think of these more like the work of many before me who make something, photograph it and then disassemble it, or let the work just cease to be. I think of Andy Goldsworthy, although his work has a  more formulated thesis and involves a more complicated construction scenario. These are simple constructions. I like simple.The über contrast between the stark white and black backgrounds is working well, but could be improved. I also have to be careful with the edges of my dibond circles. In hindsight creating the circles from photographic prints and then mounting them in dibond was an expensive and not very robust move. When I shoot these on a slight angle the edges of the material detract from the overall effect. These are also pretty touchy. They scratch easily and the edges of the photographs lift off the substrate when I fool around with them too much. It was also an expensive process that was sort of overkill. One of the surprises is the shadows. I think I can manipulate the shadows to be even more interesting as well use other geometric forms of material to make the light behave in more regulated and angular patterns. Right now all that can be really seen are the circular shadows caused by the angle of the light sources. If I can move to either constant light sources with more power or strobe flash light I might be able to create solid lines of shadow that criss cross the sculptural surface of the disc and the picture frames.I’ll print these in various sizes, but I’m leaning towards 48 x 48. I’m toying with making them small prints, and that might be an option because they they’ll become affordable and more practical for many people. There’s also a possibility I’ll take the circles out into the world. I’m fixated in a pile of these  crammed into a corner of the stairwell in my office building. It’s a concrete staircase and very bland. I think the circles would seem so unreal and maybe slightly happy there. 

 

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Found Sculpture

Found Sculpture in the case below references the work of James Carl. I had a great t-shirt of a t-shirt that James Carl did and that my loverly wife bought from Art Metropole for me. I really like his work. I think I’ll have to get another of those t-shirts. I also want to get some of these generic white cups and lids. They have this awesome James Carl sculptural quality that I find very attractive. I can imagine playing around with them my white paper backdrop, making one-off minimalist photographic sculpture.

I think of these electrical panel constructions as found sculpture too. They’re simply the coolest collage of wires, conduit, metal boxes and wires. It would be good to get some of these materials as well as the cups and construct elaborate and absurd versions of these modular masterpieces.

There’s already a sculptor who utilizes ductwork, and there’s also the work of Jimmy Limit that comes to mind. He shows at Clint Roenisch. If I worried about my work being like someone else’s I would have never produced anything so who cares.

Sculpture is a definite draw for future work. I also like the idea of found materials and of taking photographs to preserve a record of the sculpture. Living with actual sculptures is not the easiest thing to do. I like how photography translates the sculptural into an idea of the sculptural.

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Storage

I can’t stop thinking about storage/shipping containers since being back from Vancouver. I want to create a scale replica of one in a very nice wood. I guess it would classify maybe as a carving, or maybe I’d construct it using more of a cabinetry/joinery approach.

I’d like to make one to photograph and I’d like to photograph the real things as well.

Although t would be extremely challenging I imagine I could make one out of sheet metal using a bender and soldering techniques.

Back again after taking the dog out for a walk. That’s always quality time to think. It’s a beautiful fall day and I started wondering why I want to do this Storage project. There are a lot of things I’ve seen that have made this shape/thing resonate. There are the images that Robert Polidori took of container yards that I saw in New Yorker magazine years ago and the sculptural work of Kim Adams I’ve been in love with recently where he employs different containers to make his contemporary sculptures. There’s also the fact that these Intermodal Storage Containers are so ubiquitous in North America. We’re a consumer society and so much is transported in these containers that they’re everywhere. There’s a whole school of designers creating ways to convert these containers into livable spaces. There are shops popping up that use these as the basis for their stores. Then there’s also a weird connection to the year that The television show The Wire was set in a container yard. I also simply like the dimensions, simplicity and stackable utilitarian nature of these things… and the colours.

Also while out walking the dog I remembered grade eight shop class when we worked with galvanized metal and created a tin box via a folding machine. I’d like to get one of those folding machines now and create cool sculptures in sheet metal. Maybe I could replicate an Intermodal Container.

I think it’s a bit over the top but if I had unlimited space and budget –not to mention the time– I’d buy one of these. The learning curve would be pretty steep, as would the time involved to actually reproduce one of these shipping containers as meticulously as I imagine I want to.

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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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Squared

Squared is based on one of the ideas for Made. Made is a planned exhibition for January 2014.

This started with the ideas for another project called Tarps and then just sort of morphed into a project that becomes more math than I ever thought I’d be interested again. I like to think of Squared as based in the photographic but tied to painting, colour theory, and sculpture.

Squared Squares or Squaring the Square is a mathematical problem. Basically the premis is to create a square made of different squares, none of which can be the same size. I discovered this—not because I knew about the problem but—because I simply wanted to achieve the Squared Squares thing and I didn’t know how to do it.  I stumbled upon the Global Constraint Catalogue simply by searching for squared squares. I’m very happy I did. I haven’t read through the details on that site but I did come across a diagram that visualized what I was thinking about.

The above image from the Global Constraints Catalogue depicts the simplest proof for Squaring the Square where 21 different size squares are used to create a perfect larger square. Below I’ve converted the diagram above into a Sketch Up digram just because I’m feeling guilty for stealing someone else’s work.

The first part of my plan is to figure out how this math proof works so I can create the simple Square of Squares without just copying it.

My Square of Squares is 3D, because I started seeing it this way as more of a sculpture. I’ve since discovered that a Cube of Cubes is actually impossible. This became clear to me when I understood the simple idea of a proof by infinite decent. It will be cool to see if I can understand why, but I digress. The above structure is the premis for Squared.

I’d like to create a larger work like the 3D rendering above and below. It will end up two dimensional more like the first illustration, made of 21 different pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve been mulling the idea of making these pieces out of stretcher frames with wood panel facings to paint on. I was going to make them out of stretched canvas but the added material of the canvas stretched around the frame would no doubt through my measurements off and make the Squared Square more difficult to achieve accurately.

Picture twenty one panels fitted together to make the larger square. Each of these stretcher panels would either be 1″,  1.5″, 2″ or 3″ thick.  I would paint each of the panels either a different grey shade or a different colour. More likely it will be colour based as I’m more interested in colour photography than in black and white. I’d then take photos of each of the panels, so twenty one pictures. Maybe 22 if I take an image of the assembled Square of Squares.

I see it clearly. In a gallery space—perhaps even Bau-Xi Photo if they agree—I would assemble the larger Squared Square on a wall. It would be 112″ x 112″ or roughly 9 feet x 9 feet square. It should be pretty cool. Meanwhile I’ve taken the different twenty two photographs and printed them on the same size square paper, maybe they get printed 24″ x 24″. The goal is to simply frame and hang these side by side around the gallery or on a single wall of the space. Each would like identical except for the actual tone or colour of the image and each would relate back to the larger wall sculpture/panel painting.

This fascination started with the last show Wandering. In that show I shot with the square in my head and cropped down all my images from the typical in camera frame ratio of 2:3 to be square 1:1 ratios. This allowed me to see differently and now I’m really liking the square frame. That’s the impetuous for this project but I’m now thinking more about other aspects of photography or at least other aspects of photography and how it pertains to my practice.

The squares loosely represent pixels to me. I think this is because I’ve been more and more preoccupied with the debate and discussion about digital photography vs analog photography. The colour is another thing I’ve been thinking about and again relates to various conversations I’ve been involved, overheard or read about the nature of photography and the value of colour or black & white printing. There’s also a real nod to my favourite painters Joseph Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Claude Tousignant and others. Add to that a general attraction for the work of Johannes Itten. Then there’s the aspect of painting, taking pictures of paintings and the blurred lines between the two that I love.  Finally there’s a real sense fo creating something to be photographed here that I think is a natural direction to take based on the work in Wandering. Wandering was found art, Squared will be made art.

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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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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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Vogel Napkins

When I visit someone’s house, go to a family function, attend art openings or go anywhere that food is served I utilize the napkins. It’s polite and I was taught that good manners meant being able to dab at the corner of your mouth or have an approved place to wipe your fingers.

Inevitably every time I go out to a function with food I put a napkin in my pocket. Typically I’m saving it for the inevitable second helping of whatever is being served and I hate to waste paper but more often than not the truth is that I dislike putting a crumpled napkin on a plate. It just feels wrong to me and looks so disorderly and dumping it on a plate also makes stacking dirty plates awkward. It makes me uncomfortable. To me plates are designed to fit into each other and be so orderly that to leave them spread out on a counter with stuff all over them is hard to do.

On the rare occasion that a waste basket is readily available and clearly locatable it works out fine and I can deposit the napkin when I no longer require my plate. Part of the problem is I’m also not a fan of nosing around in a strange kitchen trying to locate the unfamiliar garbage, and even if I do suppress the feeling of invading someone’s privacy for long enough to detect the waste can how can I be sure which receptacle in this strange kitchen the paper goes into? Does the house-holder recycle and does the municipality in question consider napkins organic green bin material, paper to be recycled or actual garbage. Finally, it’s never a sure bet you’ll recognize the container for trash, recycling or compost.

I inevitably forget I’ve even put the stupid napkin in my pocket and only remember I’ve done so when I open the dryer at home several days later and see the abstract remains all ripped to shreds and sticking to every other piece of clean laundry in the machine. Sometimes I’ll find the thing if I remember to check my pockets before I put them in the wash sometimes I just discover them hiding out when I wear the article of clothing in question again.

Last night we were invited to a wonderful home to watch an awesome documentary on Herb and Dorothy Vogel. They’re the modest husband and wife collecting team that amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections of the last 50 years. When I finished my awesome pizza and salad I put a napkin in my pocket and mentioned I was doing so to a new friend. I had also had a few glasses of wine and explained in a very matter of fact and casual way that I was thinking I should create a work based on this awkward collecting habit of mine and that some how related –so clearly to me at the time– to the Vogel’s collecting habits and behaviors.

So the idea is to keep doing this obsessive thing with napkins and maybe consciously amp up my attendance at art openings. I’ll begin to seriously collect napkins for a very long period of time until I can amass enough of them to stack them into an impressive assemblage. I could create a paper spike that would somehow be manufactured to screw into a base or the floor somehow. I imagine this to be about 7 feet tall and to be”sculpted” to undulate in width as it grew in height based on the size differential of each napkin. The end result would be a type of shish-kabob structure. this also reminds me of a device from the past that people use to have on their desks and used to keep track of loose notes in pre-computer days. My father had one in the 70s that I use to play with that I’m pretty sure my oldest brother made in shop class in middle school. I could also make a habit of transcribing stuff on each of the napkins making them into the pages of a pseudo art diary. These could contain details of where the napkin was collected, make a short anecdotal comments about the event, review work or offer a derisive remark about some attendee. I imagine the majority of these would be from people’s houses or art functions.

All this was inspired by a group of very nice people and a movie about some seriously sweet and awe-inspiring contemporary art collectors. Weirdly enough that movie contained images of what I think was from a Robert Rauschenberg drawing of a sailboat. I framed a sketch of this work in the 90′s when I worked at AGS on Sorauren Avenue. it was also a time period when I new nothing about contemporary art. This sketch was also done on a cocktail napkin. As I write this I think this piece is about a bunch of stuff as described, but most importantly it’s about; another self-recognized compulsive habit, remembering my father’s desk and my brother’s hand-made completely obsolete office gadget, a desire to document and perhaps somehow comment on the wonderful world of contemporary art, wanting to create a beautiful object that encourages thoughtful discussion on what is art, what it means to make art, and what being involved in the art scene is like, and doing something that involves of bunch of different art disciplines and materials.

Thoughts and images to add this morning 09/17/2012; Missisauga Sunset photograph by Sonja Hidas from Facebook, previous post with the window display in support of the Quebec student rallies of the summer, draw a DNA strand and find a paper Spike picture.

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Maquette

Maquette is a concept I’ve been thinking about since August 2nd. I’ve been obsessed with it. I find when I fixate on things it’s a good sign, usually it means the idea has some potential. In short the more something sticks in my head and it adapts and expands, the more valid it seems.

I’ve been shooting interior spaces through the glass of their front windows for years. Lately the work feels a bit underwhelming. I rarely find compelling new locations anymore. I get less and less exited about what I’ve shot or have been shooting. Typically in the last few months I head out and shoot and shoot for hours and then come home and delete everything.

As an alternative to this I could build what I want to take pictures of. Below is a perfect example. I like this image but I’d rather see it as a series of lines and planes than actual structural, representational elements. I’d like to distill this into a geometric sculpture by removing the reference point of the room. I think I could build a maquette that would be less narrative and more compelling than the interior spaces I’ve been shooting for Vacancy.


I think this has awesome potential. The first project could be painted foamcore. I’ll build a structure like the diagram below, only using subtle shades of grey gradation. Maybe my first attempt will be based on the lines of a hallway. The furthest surface inside the hallway will be white, the closer I get to the top our outer edge will be black. In between hand-mixed shades linking the two. I can do a series of these constructions using different primary colours. I better get the studio finished. I think I’ll make this really small and shoot with the macro lens. If I think I’m insane I might as well start acting the part.

Further to this idea I went out today on Simcoe Day for the last chance I”l have in a while to shoot. I found 2 places and a new idea close to home. Below are the early stages of the new idea. I’ve taken my standard shot and then closed down the aperture as small as possible to increase the exposure time and used the zoom on my lens to distort the image. I like this effect and it sort of makes the interiors unreal and somewhat x-rayish. I like the technique and was also surprised with the simplicity and line of the subject.

I think this is a nice step in the right direction. Now the plan could be to revisit the favorite boring locals and reshoot with this technique. I’ll experiment with underexposing to even further increase the exposure times and hopefully allow me to get some more solid ghosting. I could possibly do this with multiple exposures as well or even layer specific individual images in Photoshop to act like multiple in-camera exposures. There’s also the possibility of combining this multiple shot technique with the aforementioned maquette versions of the interiors and experiment in a studio setting with flash, other lighting and the macro lens.

For me the image below is just a nice surprise. like this interior as a possibility for the Vacancy series… just when I was close to giving up. This is a sweet ending to a pretty laid back vacation. New inspiration and new ideas make me happy.

Finally I think this is a project I could execute over the course of a month or 2 in an artist residence somewhere. I was further thinking maybe I could research one in Paris or London where I could also work on a new subway series as well. I might even be able to take a month or 2 leave from work.

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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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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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