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.

1.FINAL_36x36_BowieCloudsCubed

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.

12.FINAL_36x36_BalledUpSkySharp

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.

13.FINAL_36x26_ColourCirclesStrippedonBlackSoft

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.

7.FINAL_36x36_CloudsCrumpled2

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.

 Facebook Twitter

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

IMG_5825 IMG_5852 IMG_5876

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.

IMG_6262IMG_6247IMG_6244IMG_6311 IMG_6429

 Facebook Twitter

Colour Theory

Colour theory is based on a lot of things. Most notably the work of two twentieth century artist/theorists and their books. I’ve had copies of both Joseph Albers – The Interaction of Color  and Johannes Itten -The Art of Color on our shelves for a long a time. Note: I know how to spell colour, but I guess these are both American publications.

I also love painting, in specific the work of the 50′s and 60′s abstract expressionists that might be considered colourfield artists including; Mark Rothko, Gene Davis, Barnett Newman, Jack Bush, Guido Molinari, Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, and Clyfford Still. I’m particular as well to the contemporary painters that could be linked –albeit maybe just aesthetically–to that earlier movement like; Elizabeth McIntosh, Yves GaucherClaude Tousignant, and others.

A large part of Colour Theory is about Photoshop and photographic manipulation. These images are all taken “in camera”. I built small colour panels, and I support these on wooden stick in the air in front of the camera and shoot.

There’s a bit of Photoshop work done after the fact to remove the panel supports but I could have created these images within Photoshop with no camera work at all. In this way the work links back to aspects of my durational performance pieces in that I’m consciously finding a more difficult and labour intensive way to create something that could be easily mistaken for simple graphic manipulation.

It’s also about the desire to paint with the camera. I think this is a logical place for my work to move given the nature of the my traditional photographic practice of the last ten years. In a way this work is a transition from me “taking photographs” to me “making photographs” as Lise from Gallery 44 suggested.

Colour Theory is not going to be the title of this body of work. I’ve toyed with the idea of “Alterations” but that seems a bit too wanky. I’ll continue this post when I have more energy.

I’ll keep working this series, and see what happens. I just got a call from TIW and my circular colour panels are ready. Let’s see what happens with those. I’m also toying with the idea of three dimensional geometric shapes. The first of these will probably be an open ended square cube. I figure I can build it out of foam core. This weekend I’m buying a box of foam core.

I still haven’t managed to pick up the colour circular panels, but I did figure out a way to remove the stick in-camera. No more photoshop removal. I’ve also figured out I can do a lot of cool work on a table top without sticks with multiple panels on black and white foamcore backgrounds. Exciting. The following two images were all done in-camera, there’s no stick removal.

 

 

 

 

 Facebook Twitter

Coloured Tarps

Coloured Tarps was originally conceived as a winter project.

The coloured tarps I’m talking about are typically blue however I’ve seen black, green, silver, white and orange in use at different times around the city. Lately I discovered you can get them in a few other colours like red and yellow and that I can have them custom made out of different materials. I’d like to get six or seven tarps that cover a spectrum of secondary colours.

The genesis of the idea was to wrap myself up cocoon like in these tarps and to take self-portraits while laying swaddled on the ground, sitting on a rock or in some other such pose. I’d use a remote control with the camera on a tripods or some other support. This might be hard to do without help. Managing the camera in the snow could be tricky as well. The optimal situation would be a new snow some day in a local park, super early in the morning before anyone’s disturbed the snow cover. I think I could shoot looking down from a bridge or some other such structure, but again, I think I need help to do this. Wrapping myself up even would be hard, let alone executing everything else. The camera could be attached to a long pole that could then be hoisted in the air to get a vantage point which would reduce any distortion in the perspective.

Simpler than this would be to shoot 10 ft square tarps stretched over an area of snow or supported in the air to flap in the breeze in a snow field. The resultant image could be obtained by simply creating something in illustrator or Photoshop, but that’s not the point. I see a room with 7 or 8 large square photographs that are taken of coloured tarps on fields of fresh snow from above somehow without shadow. The same could be done with circular tarps.

The closest images on the web to describe what I’m attempting are for camping. These are typically protective set ups. You can see the clean lines of these structures and although these images are taken in typical camping situations, I think you can see what I’m trying to accomplish. These actually describe a derivative of the Coloured Tarp project that I’m now stoked on as well. I can create Photoshop like holes in landscape spaces using various tarp structures.  Again, this image depicts a complex physical manipulation of the visual space to create scenarios that could easily be accomplished in Photoshop.

Each corner of the tarp could be controlled by fishing line, so the snow doesn’t get disturbed. It could also be attached by white string to a white structure of poles and hoisted in the air. Images could be taken of the formalist square or even circular tarps. A derivative of this would be to support the coloured tarps from their upper corners and let them wave in the breeze like flags. The images could be taken either, intentionally out of focus or at slow shutter speeds to blur the final images. I could also do inanimate shapes. I could find existing man-made object/structures and cover them with the coloured tarps. This could create abstract, painterly like compositions. Playing with photography and sculpture to create a homage to minimalist, formalist painting.

This is a further exploration of the painting thing. Humorous in way.  The idea of re-enacted scenarios via awkward and complicated logistics to create simple compositions that the viewer could mistake for paintings rather than photographs . It also has the obvious association with Christo’s work, but I think this is more about photography rather than sculpture.

This could be done anywhere and at anytime of day or night, in any season. The square or round tarps will look very cool wherever I can stretch them to their uniform shapes, let them flap in the breeze, shoot up at them against a white or blue sky, shoot them suspended above the surface of a lake, against a field of snow, against a wall of greenery, etc. The more I think about this the more limitless this project could be. Exciting.

 

 Facebook Twitter

Retail

Retail is often the subject of my work. This store front is a Rogers on the Danforth. It’s super-ghetto but the colour is awesome in amongst all that blahhh.

The side of a Jehovah’s Witness Church attached to a Budget Car Rental north of Bloor on Dundas West. I’ve shot this wall for 10 years. Obsessive might be to casula a word for that.

The Abacus Condo Sales Office. Dundas West around Gladstone. Note the coffee cup in the background on the right side of the image. The coffee cup series is another possible body of work. I’m serious.

 

 Facebook Twitter