Wander January 2017

January 2017 and I’ve started to wander again. It’s been too long but life sort of gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I haven’t had time,  I just haven’t been motivated.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and that means exploring the city slowly on foot and letting stuff just sort of happen.

I’ve also started to remove myself from social media. Its just counter productive for me. I’ll start to write about the things here on my website. I use to do that religiously and I miss it. If you need any info or have any questions about anything please contact me at info@chrisshepherd.net

The following were taken over a period of three days as 2017 was ushered in. Each day I wandered for a few hours with no distinct destination planned.

Below is the back of the U of T Medical Sciences Building. You can access the spot via a modest little driveway called Discovery Lane. I’m not sure if you still call this style of architecture Brutalist because it’s embellished with these vertical aesthetic elements, but it looks interesting. It’s an eight story structure and all the deeper vertical members on the left hand side of the frame hide the windows on this south facing wall—at least from this angle. I’ve done a bit of post production tilt-shift to make the image work better for me using the Photoshop Lens Correction tool.

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I’ve taken pictures of the Toronto Spiritualists Temple on College around the Mod Club for years, but never with any success or never that ever resonated with me. It’s a very modest little church like building. In truth it’s more like a cottage with a few coloured windows. This frame shows a section of the front window unit and I’m pretty sure that’s just coloured glass, or even just plastic-coated glass you’re looking at. The building must be over 50 years old. It has a distinctly 50-60s feel to it. I like the rectangles within a rectangle thing in this shot, and the border that’s created by the white window frames.

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These next two images were taken close to home, adjacent to The West Toronto Rail Path. Both were shot through the clear acrylic fences that stop people from crossing the train track areas. This is probably a good thing because the corridor is very busy now with the Go, Via and UP trains all passing through at regular intervals.

The community had wanted green-living walls to be built to separate us from tracks and noise, but the powers–that–be thought these were the best solution. They sold us acrylic barriers and assured us they were graffiti proof. They must have tested them with water colour paints because they are now favourite targets for middle class taggers. Their paint has no problem permanently adhering to the acrylic. We can live with the tags no matter how lame they are but the real sad reality is the cleaning contractor uses a cheap-ass-toxic solvent to remove the tags and it doesn’t work and ends up creating the mess you see below. The smudgy parts are where tags have been melted off with some bargain basement solvent.

Looks sort of cool on a cold grey winter’s day. These two images are no-filter, colour photographs.

We love this neighbourhood, although the 10 years of construction is a bit tiresome.
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Small note on the Wander process. I use a Canon 5Ds with a 55 mm Sigma Art lens. I shoot on aperture priority with an ISO of 200. I rarely change lenses, but when I do I have one other and that’s a Canon L series 17-35mm.

I’ve taken photographs of this Hydro Building Roof Access Ladder at Ossington and Dupont on a previous wander. On this occasion I simply positioned myself to capture the opposite angle. I was also a lot closer. I’m not sure why but these ladders are the same on almost all hydro buildings but I like them, I love the circular handles and how they stand out against the sky.

0m6a2781These pipes are across the street from G&H Furniture on Dupont. I have trouble taking pictures when I’m looking up or down. I’d rather be straight on. This is beyond my comfort zone, but the central straight vertical line is helping me to accept it.0m6a2777This is a weird little still life inside a weirder still display of another window. Located along the east side of the block the once was Honest Ed’s. Seriously—when is the last time you used the yellow pages? This forgotten gem must have been stuck in this space a long time ago. Although it’s rather specific, I have shot forgotten yellow pages before. I think that’s because the city is so big and I wander so much.

Everything about this weird window is engaging to me. It’s also the one picture I took of the Honest Ed’s block the day after it closed for good to make way for condos. I couldn’t help thinking that although it seeing the past disappear is sometimes a drag the change will be good for the Annex. The whole area has been pretty ghetto for as long as I can remember. The sad part is that this means a lot of people will be displaced. Gentrification happens and some parts of it certainly suck. As a weird aside I think there may be less interesting stuff to see when I wander because of this. Gentrification and the sanitization that accompanies it is not necessarily engaging.
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I’ve always loved these huge memorials to U of T students, faculty and alumni that were killed in the world wars. I’m assuming these are the list of the war dead. The font is amazing and the craftsmanship is truly wonderful to behold. Whenever I see these I think I want to take graphite rubbings of them on some huge pieces of paper.

0m6a2693There’s a Salvation Army Shelter for Women in the Junction. It’s across from what once was McBride Cycle but is now the almost complete DK Condos on Dundas West. It always makes me think about the relationships between men and women, because I imagine that most of the reason for these women to end up here is that men fuck them up. Maybe that’s unfair, but as I get older I really do think that men are basically irresponsible children that never grow up and that a huge portion of them cause a lot of grief and anguish to others.

I took this because the scene was simple and reminded me very much of Thomas Demand. I really love that work and because of it I see “Found Demands” everyday. 0m6a2647Crane cables form the construction area beside our house. I’m terribly sick of this construction cycle that literally began with the remediation of the land about eight years ago. But I’m also aware that it’s quite a first world problem.
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Canon 5Ds

The new Canon 5DS behaves very much like the old camera. It just has a massive file size and a lot smoother shutter action. Both things though are immensely important to me for creating huge prints. It seems my minimum print size now is 36 inches square. The files from this 5DS can get me that large with a lot more clarity and a lot less resizing than the old 5D Mark II ever could. But the old camera certainly served me well.

The other nice thing about the camera is that I’m interested again. I’m starting to slowly see things I haven’t been seeing for a few years. Investing in the new camera has pushed me outdoors to explore and I’ve begun wandering endlessly. Sometimes I walk for hours and don’t get a single image worth keeping, but I’m exploring and that feels important.

The first two images below were taken in The Junction which is a ten minute walk from my immediate neighbourhood, The Junction Triangle. The first photograph is an interior shot through a window. This part of the Junction is west of the cool and gentrified area, c loser to Runnymede than High Park Avenue. There’s not a lot happening on this stretch of Dundas West close to little Malta. That’s echoed in the remains of the business shown here. The really pedestrian chairs smack of the 1990s while the improvised pegboard door and cheap handle are a handyman’s special.

The second shot is east of the popular Junction. This image is of a strange little amphitheatre adjacent to a school. Think slightly west of what is perhaps the most dangerous and confusing intersection of the city where Dundas West meets DuPont, Annette and Old Weston Road. The light filtering through the leaves was wonderful and the dappled burst of circles make me smile. In what is an otherwise depressing and forgotten little nook of overgrown and decrepit space this sunlight is positively beaming. I also think this image will look very wonderfully abstract when viewed from across a room.

0M6A0330 0M6A0290At the bottom end of the Toronto West Rail Path is a Toronto Employment and Social Services office. This is the entrance railing in the underground parking area that looks like it’s simply a staff lunch area now. I may retake this so the bottom of the semicircle of railing is lifted either above or below the horizon line in the background.

I think of type faces or fonts the more I look at this. There seems to be a shift to thinner lighter weight fonts lately in the design world and for some reason this railing reminds me of that change.0M6A0221Gas meters are always a fascination. I’ve loved these things since I was a kid and they still fascinate me to a degree. Likewise there’s a weird draw to plywood and construction in general. Probably a result of years of doing construction work. Many street photographers are intrigued by decay and abandonment, I’m more interested now in transition, rebirth and building. Perhaps that’s just a latent optimism.

This was taken on Yonge Street across from the Toronto reference Library where a block of century buildings is being gutted to create a new building on the edger of Yorkville. 0M6A0166 I can’t remember what this place was. How weird is that? The refurbishment has taken a  few years now and they’ve not made a tremendous amount of progress. For some reason in my head this was a hotel that was big in Film Festival patronage. But I could be wrong. I want to say the old Sheraton, but I’m completely unsure. 0M6A0009 This piece below is a bit more conceptual.

Over the past ten years the square has become ubiquitous in my work. Most of my output is created with a digital SLR. My camera’s frame and viewfinder ratio mimics an analog 35 mm format. The sensor and architecture of the device always produces a rectangular image in the ratio of 2:3. Somewhere in my process I became uncomfortable with this rectangular ratio and started to think and crop my work in a 1:1 ratio. The square. I’m obsessed with it’s simplicity and beauty. I love the confinement that shooting is square dictates. I’m comfortable with it. Everything I shoot now I think of in the square. All my initial shots are still done with a digital SLR and the files start off as rectangles, but for anything I print or share I always crop it to square. I’m uncomfortable and feel conflicted working in anything other than the square.

About five years ago I also began experimenting with made photographs. Until that point my process focused on walking and shooting what I saw as I explored. I still love that way of working and that is still a big part of what I do, but I wanted to work differently. I wanted variety so I started working ideas that were planned interventions. Set up photographs. These ideas focused on the camera as a tool and instead of exploiting found imagery I began to create the subject matter.

There’s a whole bunch more explanation coming in here… that will end with…

I have two 20 inch wooden panels that I bought to paint on. I’ve primed and sanded them down, all ready to create work but never had the nerve to wreck the wonderful blankness. I take these out into the area and shoot them in various situations. This panel was simply placed on a clay pile that will become the newest Junction Triangle housing estate. I think these places will start at about 700K and I’m sure they’ll be built out plaster board and shitty finishes and people will flock to buy them because they’re new.

It’s fascinating that there are basically 2 types of home buyers. Those who need something new and those who prefer something lived in. Are their people out there who don’t care if they live in a  new or an old place?

0M6A0036I’ve always taken photographs through the windows of empty or closed retail stores. The shot below is from a Driver’s Education place on Dundas West around Le Gallery. I found this very funny and the photograph works in a humorous way for me for several reasons.

Such a 70s image. The car is literally a Corvette from the 70s. My Brother in-law had an orange Corvette around this time. I remember it being fibreglass. I also remember my sister was so short that she couldn’t really see out the front window because the hood was so long and she got really nervous driving it. Obviously the hood was so long because it was housing that huge engine. I also remember that they sold this car, but before the actual sale, somebody came by their house and stole some of the chrome engine parts. So that story always make me smile.  but the other funny thing for me is the personification of stereotypical old-school social culture and the importance of sports cars. To me the sports car is all about 14-15 years old and men that never grew up and an entire industry that hopes these men never grow up and keep buying these weird penis-on-wheels type vehicles.

This also works because it’s a photograph of a photograph. It’s also a bad photograph meant to sell cars and as a “picture” it has little to no value. Especially now that’s it sat in the sun for 40 years and is completely colourless. I love these sort of photographs when used to promote a business. It’s particularly poignant to me when they are photographs in a window used to display either an actual photographers skill, or a hairstyle that might be particularly stylish. Both things just can’t be true. Any self respecting photographer would never display images that had faded to a mere shadow of their former selves. Also if it’s a photo in a salon, that salon is obviously going to provide you with stylish upgrades based on the fashion from 20 or 30 years ago. This makes me laugh. I’ve just decided that I can print this for my October Bau-Xi Toronto show. It fits with my general concept of showing this/photographs about photography.

Finally the rippling print in the frame is testimony to how many years it’s been hanging around. It must have been water damaged at one point and then dried all ripply.

To think this hangs on the wall as something that could relate to taking a drivers education course makes me smile as well.

0M6A9955So the biggest thing about my new camera is that is has motivated me to start long walking again. I’ve missed over the last few years. I never made a conscious decision to stop wandering and taking photographs, it just happened unfortunately. Those last two years have felt like they’ve been missing something. That something was walking. The photograph below was taken on the beginning of one of those long walks. Routinely these walks last 2 – 3 hours and I can travel around 10km at a time.

The image below is also after a much needed rain. This summer his past the halfway point and we’ve had very little rain. It’s super dry. We did get a bit lately and week or so ago I and as I ventured out I found this nice puddle beside the patio at the Farmhouse on Edwin at Dupont. I’ve been relatively obsessed withe power lines lately. In our neighbourhood, at this part of the Junction Triangle there are a lot of overhead power lines.

This is also reflecting—no pun really intended—on the penchant for contemporary artists to use a lot of mirrors lately. 0M6A9879

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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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July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015 Sunday. On this scorching day I ventured off to the AGO for a quick visit. There’s a lot of work up I really like. Peter Doig, Elizabeth McIntosh, Frank Stella, Robert Motherwell, Stephen Andrews, Gerhard Richter, Kent Monkman, Francis Bacon, Brian Jungen, Christi Belcourt, and I’m sure I’m missing a few other favourites. It’s nice to go every weekend for a bit and hang out.

Here’s a found image that reminds me of the Thomas Demand series Dailies. This image doesn’t really look like any specific Demand piece, but generic coffee cups always look like constructs to me and remind me of this work. I love this image for the colours and the simplicity. The only drag was that when I shot this image I crouched to get the right angle and was assaulted by the smell of pure urine. Apparently this is a favourite pissing doorway. Such a perfect shot for me, but I can see this being problematic for others. The colour, composition, and naturally occurring sculptural aspects of things like this are magic to me.

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Inside the AGO looking up through the central courtyard and out the skylights. In the haze you can see the outline of the central blue structure that holds the 5th floor contemporary galleries.IMG_5673 On Dundas Street West just west of the Go/UP/Via train tracks and before you hit the No Frills at Lansdowne is this weird rental place situated beside a wreckers yard. This is the facade of the building between those two businesses.IMG_5665

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June 21, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Exploring

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

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

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Fifty Shades of Grey

I never thought of writing a post about Fifty Shades of Grey. I wasn’t particularly interested in reading the book, and never really thought about the movie, but now that the official trailer has been released and –weirdness of all weirdness–I’m in the film,  curiousity has taken hold. Self-interest wins in the end.

Clarification: my art is in the official Fifty Shades of Grey theatrical screener. More specifically four photographs from my “Wandering” series. You can see them pretty clearly for two very short portions of the trailer that takes place in the fictional office of Christian Grey. In the book there’s a direct reference to a small mosaic of work by Irish artist Jennifer Trouton that hangs beside the door to Christian Grey’s office. You can read about that work here. My guess is that because Fifty Shades of Grey was filmed in Vancouver, the set designer simply opted for an easier solution for an art source and rented my pieces from Bau-Xi Vancouver. It may also be that Jennifer Trouton’s awesome little paintings were unavailable. Whatever the reason, I’m pleased. Exposure and publicity doesn’t come that easy for any artist and I welcome the interest this might generate. It’s nice to have people look at your art.Fifty ShadesSo at about :24 seconds Christian Grey walks by a grouping of four photos. imageThen a little later in the trailer you can see two of the four works over the main character’s shoulder.imageYou can see larger versions of each image by clicking the images in this grouping below. All of these were used in 36 x 36″ dimensions in the film.

The large painting of ghostly ships in the direct background is a work by Ed Ruscha. I wasn’t familiar with it but Christopher Knight pointed to this in the Los Angeles Times. The director Sam Taylor-Johnson is a well-known contemporary artist in her own right, associated with the group of British contemporary artists labeled the YBA. She apparently borrowed a lot of work from very big name artists for the film including John Baldassari and Ed Ruscha. Here’s another shot of an original Ruscha painting from 1987. The piece in the scene is a derivation of this work called Brother, Sister.Brother SisterThere’s also most likely a multiple piece by John Baldessari in the office called National City, but I’ve only seen this in a still image. Here’s a pic of the actual art work in an article from the American Suburb X website.1996Baldessari_NationalCity_48x47cmSo I’m hanging out with John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha. That’s just so weird. Ed Ruscha is one of my favourite painters, and John Baldessari is right up there as well. I love Ruscha’s text based work like this piece from 2003, Pay Nothing Until April.

You can see the whole Fifty Shades of Grey trailer here. Who knows, maybe when the film comes out in February 2015 my work might see a bit more screen time. That would be spectacular but really this .0001 second of interest is pretty cool in it’s own right. Either Sam Taylor-Johnson actually liked my work enough to hang it, or the stylist on set at the time did. Either way it’s sweet and provides me with something to think about. By the way the first I heard about Sam Taylor Wood/Johnson was in 2004 for her Self Portrait Suspended series. A series that has been often copied in the ten years since.

Here’s a detailed description of Everything Expensive Thing in Fifty Shades of Grey, Explained from Bloomberg writer Justin Ocean. He was nice enough to add me to the list although in reality my work–comparatively speaking–is quite inexpensive : )

In other awesome Bau-Xi Photo related news, the AGO will be working with the gallery and some of my work in a few retail pop up shops they have initiated. Bentley Dupont West of Christie is also hanging in the AGO cafe on the lower level, and four pieces from my ongoing subway series will make it to the walls of the SkyCharter terminal at Pearson. I love Bau-Xi Photo and everyone there who has always supported what I do, even if it’s a little odd.

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Subway 2014

I’ve been back in the subway shooting for the last week.

The following shot is one of the new exist hallways at Pape Subway Station. I can see why the renovations took so long. These hallway and staircases are huge. I’m liking the blank white titles. Funny though, in the hour I shot these areas, not one person used them. The multiple planes–created by the ceiling and lights in combination with the dogs-leg in the corridor–work well with the oversized minimalist panels and subdued colour palette. Strangely enough in this instance it’s the utilitarian terrazzo floor seems almost overly complex and detailed.IMG_1995Dufferin Subway Station a few months before the work is completed. This is the main floor foyer, the entrance/exit to the street is to the right of the frame. There was a beautiful light streaming through the glass at about 9:00 in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the station refurbishment is a few months behind schedule. It needs a bit of work still. Again, the most impressive part of the renovation are the second exits built from the platform to street level. Expansive. IMG_2095The shot below is of Dufferin Subway Station at track level with a passing train. I’ve always been interested in how the background of this sort of image stays so definable through the windows of the subway cars.

The update to the station is all about these new square coloured tiles. I find the treatment optimistic and look forward to seeing the images that the coloured tiles form when it’s all done. IMG_2151This is the mezzanine of Dufferin Subway Station. I’m calling it the mezzanine because it’s the floor between track level and the upper foyer. The tiles here are a continuation of the upper hall imagery and I’m pretty sure represent pixelated flesh tones. The floors and ceilings still need a lot of work, but that’s pretty basic stuff. IMG_2154Another shot in Dufferin Subway Station from one of the new exits looking onto track level as a train comes into the station. Like the new Pape second exits, I didn’t see anyone use these during the time I was shooting, but they’re relatively impressive to me. Simple and functional yet a lot of work to hammer through underground around existing foundations, sewers, electrical and who knows what else. Seems like an engineering miracle.IMG_2176Museum Subway Station isn’t my favourite, but I think it works well for the kiddies. Part of my dislike is that before the renovation this was one of my favourite stations. It had the original yellow tile and that tile was almost immaculate throughout which is very hard to find. So many stations have had repairs and tiles are replaced, but those repaired titles always look so out of place because they’re colours are usually way off. It’s hard to match the original tiles that have faded uniformly together over 50 years or so.  Museum was also one of the few central platform stations that had a grand presence. It was sad to see it overhauled in what felt like a Disneyland sort of way. I think the majority of people like this station though and it does do a good job of calling out the ROM so I can see this as being for the greater good.IMG_2229Leslie Subway Station on the Sheppard Line. The whole five stop Sheppard extension is very quiet. This is a Mel Lastman legacy. I wonder if he rode to election in that infamous second term because he pushed this through? Traffic on this line has never seemed to justify the build, but the future will rectify that. I couldn’t help thinking that this extension was most likely conceived and executed for the same reasons that Rob Ford’s Scarborough line, which is a transparent way to buy voter support. I never thought I’d say this but Lastman was  a genius of a mayor when compared to Ford. IMG_2458Sheppard Subway Station on the Sheppard line. This is at the Western end of the platform and one of the only places in the Subway where you can see the signal lights standing on their own in full view. I imagine someday this line might continue east, pummelling through to meet the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line. IMG_2393Finch Subway Station is a sprawling place. Bus platforms for Brampton, York and Go Transit, two parking lots and eight separate entrances. I’ve shot this yellow tiled area before but I couldn’t resist it’s retro charm. This is the original tile and ceiling from the first days of the station.IMG_2259One of the staircases that takes you from the mezzanine level up to the bus station area. There’s a white balance conflict happening in this shot where the natural sunlight meets the artificial fluorescent light and I need to fix, but it will be a bit fiddly in Photoshop. You can see that conflict in the purple cast on the left wall and staircase.IMG_2350Below is a central circular portion of a hallway in Finch Subway Station that has three hallways running off it. One goes back into the station proper, one to parking and one to a street exit.IMG_2286The shot below was a lucky find. It’s mid-way through a renovation on one of the circular windows that accent the mezzanine level of the Sheppard Centre Subway station. This hole will eventually get finished with a stainless gasket-like window. There’s a row of four of these up the staircase you can view through the circular hole in the image below. Of course my smarty pants art friends all were reminded of Gordon Matta-Clark who I had to look up and is now a favourite of mine.

I also realized that I loved this image after the fact, but I had a feeling I would feel that way as soon as I saw it. I went back twice and shot it to get a sharper file. It was a bit tricky because the shutter speed is so low at ISO 100 that I’m forced to use a tripod, and that tripod isn’t quite tall enough in certain situations. After this I think it’s time for a new tripod. Maybe Ill splurge. 100 ISO is my norm now.IMG_2609The following two images were taken at Islington Subway Station. I’m not really sure what these black boxes are in every subway station, but they have power going to them.  The second image was taken through a glass window and shows a view into what looks to be dis-used office on the far Western end of the platform.IMG_2493 (1) IMG_2536(1)Davisville Subway Station. This is the view from the mezzanine level elevator hallway across both tracks to the TTC offices. I’d love to get in those offices and forage around for rooms and empty, unused office space to shoot. I bet I could find a lot of stuff with that 60s dated feel, like the office desk shown in the above Islington shot.

The following image struck me as interesting because of the way the yellow safety rail’s labyrinthine feel.IMG_2760Davisville Subway Station escalator down to track level. I’ve liked these yellow highlights for years but never really got images I was happy with. I think I can live with this one and a few others. Repeat the mantra with me; walls, benches, stairs and escalators!IMG_2753Lawrence Subway Station is pretty crazy. It’s actually four levels down to track level and it has a strange old school elegance. Walking up the staircase on the north end of the platform is a real trek. there must be 7 or 8 sets of stairs to get out of the depths of track level.IMG_2725 IMG_2715 The TTC has begun to camouflage the second ticket booths at many of the stations with printed stickering. I imagine this is to call attention away from the fact that there are not two booths open. Certain stations need both booths because of volume, and in the future maybe all stations will so busy that two booths are open. It’s not generally a problem if you’re patient and I’m sure lines will be reduced when they have a presto system in place. This is the Lawrence Station second booth disguised as an extension of the real blue tiled wall. IMG_2712Kennedy Subway Station is the end of the eastern portion of the Bay Bloor line. Here there’s a general commotion all the time with passengers and train cleaners milling about. Trains pull in and then go out of service for a while as they get cleaned, or just hang for a few minutes while a crew does a quick clean. The same thing happens at the other end of the line and at Finch Station on the bloor line. I imagine it happens at Downsview as well.IMG_2826Warden Subway Station was a favourite. I’ve been and shot there before, but never fully explored. The bus station portion was amazing and empty. That’s where the bench was shot. I just went down the stairs from the mezzanine level on one of the bus bays that’s no longer used and there it was. The first image is the staircase alcove on the way down to the kiss-and-ride area. If you look in the mirror you can see a reflection of me with the camera on a tripod and two people coming up the stairs. It’s fairly creepy. Why do I like blank walls? IMG_2809 IMG_2791IMG_2466

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December Montreal

December in Montreal and it wasn’t cold. It certainly wasn’t balmy but it wasn’t ear-splitting cold and although I only had about an hour to wander around between appointments, I was pretty interested in what I stumbled on.

Montreal looks better ever time I go back. This time despite the dreary rain it was no exception. There’s still a lot of empty real-estate, but it doesn’t feel depressed. Maybe that’s just me. This huge empty retail space below was the first discovery. The expense on immense space in relative darkness then the brilliant illumination of the fluorescent landing pad was other worldly, or at least science fictiony. The metal structural members in the ceiling are very cool as were the patches of paint all along the delineating walls of the space

Closer to the hotel was this rather more contemporary space. I wasn’t very good about mapping my locations as I walked so it might be pretty hard to title some of these images if I plan to print and show. This space, with it’s contrasting concrete minimalist, man-made sensibility is contrasted by the photographic prints of a birch tree stand that hang in the windows.

The wall below is on the edge of parking lot at the corner of rue Sainte-Catherine and rue Clarke. It was quite treacherous making my way across the sheet of wet ice and leaves. I’m careful though. I don’t want to break a hip. It looks pretty gloomy but that’s not what I was thinking when I shot it. I really liked the mottled concrete that transitions into the variegated pattern. The map-like patchwork of light and dark concrete was a big draw but the shattered wooden pallet that felt sort of “Raft of the Medusa” to me, was an added bonus.

Yet another forgotten space but this one might just stay forgotten for a lot longer. I think it use to be a garage or gas station on the left surrounded by a parking lot or now empty gravel yard. This spot is an alley to nowhere. Here the colours and the geometry of the place suited me.

I’m going back soon. Hopefully 3 or 4 days will allow me a good start. I’m also thinking it’s time to visit and shoot the Metro but that will have to be done on a separate, dedicated trip.

So all in al for the day that I was there –other than missing a visit with my nephew–was a success. Hotel Galt here we come.

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October 2013

October 2013 is shaping up to be my favourite month this year. Mainly because it’s the Fall and lately it’s the only really fall month we seem to get. Fall suits me.

October 20th – I wandered around the Yonge/Bay and Bloor area. On Yonge just north  of the unattended subway entrance there’s a Jack Astor’s. This is the south wall of the a Starbucks that is facing the fence of the Jack Astor’s patio. I’ve shot this weird little patch of colour on other occasions and I revisit just to see if it’s been painted over. The original exposed brick can be seen underneath the layers of paint and plaster. I think this used to be a cool old bookstore before it became a Starbucks. On Bay the new Four Seasons Hotel/Condo building is approaching completion. There’s work being done however on the actual streets; Bay, and Yorkville in particular. This is looking onto the Four Seasons from the middle of Yorkville.

and the view below is from the Bay Sidewalk looking out onto Bay Street where half the road is being worked on. This is a concrete layer of under layer that I guess they’ll either pave over or actually cover with more concrete. I think the circular patterning was caused by a forklift or other small construction vehicles wheels.October 19th – I wandered up to Keele and St Clair in the rain to investigate The Stockyards If you haven’t seen it, try to avoid it and you’re might be the better for it. In this square kilometre area there is already Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot, McDonalds, Harvey’s, Shoppers Drug Mart and other cookie cuter retail stores. Now there’s a new half-a-million square foot, big-box, glorified-strip-mall going in that will contain a Target a, Pet Smart, Best Buy, Second Cup, Subway, and you can guess the rest. Here’s a pic of one of the stores and I bet it’s more interesting now than it will be with second rate, poorly made goods stocking the shelves. Take note, when this place is open I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near this part of the city, the streets are still built to accommodate industrial and low density residential, not the 250,000 people in cars that will drive here from the surrounding 5km area. We’ve walked on surrounding roads in summer over the past ten years and you can’t breath because the car exhaust is so dense. Think about how ghastly it will be when it’s wall-to-wall grid lock and 35 degrees outside.October 16th – I revisited the weird transitional area between Thorncliff Park and Leaside. I wandered up Laird from Overlea, then across Eglington over to the DVP where my day job office is. It’s the Laird area I find I’m strangely drawn to. I made my way back to the self-storage place where I shot a photograph that was in the first Wandering show at Bau-Xi Photo. The whole complex is being painted. I’m not quite sure what the final colours will be but the interim hodge-podge is appealing. Note the following is not straight-on or at a forty-five degree angle.

When I did a complete circle of the building I also realised that the image I shot the previous year can be shot again this year but it will look even more like the Canadian flag. Just south west of the storage place on Laird there’s been a lot of development to service the suburban/urban area that is Leaside and Overlea. I can’t say that any of this is good development. I think if I say Smart Centres you’ll get the gist. It’s turning into one parking lot after another with generic, chain retail offering poor quality goods and services for a community of convenience. But I don’t live there and I’m sure 90% of the residents love this stuff.

Before the transition happens completely the west side of Overlea has been relatively untouched. It’s still home to lots of businesses that focus on the automobile, and some weird old school looking light industrial. Attached to an old school indoor carwash was the vacant retail place below.

This image is getting printed. I’m liking the simple, virtually black & white look that the space has and it’s slightly tired and imperfect construction. I also really love the weird placement of the door and the window frame leaning against the back wall. They contrast wonderfully with the whiteness that surrounds. I’m not quite sure why but I find this image very mysterious and somewhat otherworldly. To me it’s as if the frames are placed against the wall for some specific unknown and somewhat fantastical purpose rather than simply placed there for storage.I also made my way back into the pseudo park lands that make up the no man’s land of the highway cloverleafs beside my office building. I love these colours and the weird, pastoral nature of these shots. For the last few years I’ve thought  this can be a series in itself that might be inexhaustible. This image relates again to others I took last year, but now I’m looking at the scene with a more literary reference after reading Sebald whom I’ve been told is rather bleak and depressing. Funny, but I didn’t read it that way. I’ve enjoyed both Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn.The shot below is taken from the parking lot of our office building, and beyond the trees is the DVP. The building beside us is getting new stairs poured in concrete and they ripped out the old ones and stuck them at the back corner of the existing parking lot.

The idea of Urban Pastoral may seem absurd, but areas like those below are quickly becoming the only natural green spaces in our city. I like capturing what looks like the edge of the wild with elements of urbanity in this absurd manner. It’s sort of like public parks having parking lots. 

When I actually got into work and came up the stairs i shot this on the third floor of our building, then rotated the frame 90 degrees. The larger white area is actually a wall, at it’s base is a recessed fluorescent light, then the lip of a ledge and the front edge of that ledge, and finally the dark area is the carpeting of the floor. I like the echoes of James Turrell, Mark Rothko, and Dan Flaven.October 14th - Just off Bloor, West of Bay slightly down from the Ugg store is the empty condo sales office for some new building. It’s been there for a few years. I like the simple depth in this image. I also love the incredibly high ceilings and the suggestion of a library that the empty shelves provide.

October 8th - Yonge Street north of Bloor beside the Bay. Sad attempt at landscaping but never the less a welcome bit of greenery on a dated and unimpressive corner. I’ll work more on this entry on my lunch hour today at work. It’s pretty rainy and taking photos on lunch will most likely not be a good option.October 6th
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Sketching

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Wandering Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening – Dundas West Roncesvalles

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

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

Electrical Panel – Bohemian Embassy Queen Street

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

Hydro Pole – Don Valley Pathway

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

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

Sandro Martini and Fan – Grenville at Bay

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

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

Abacus Office – Dundas Street West

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

Brush – Gardiner Expressway

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

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

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

Shiatsu – Roncesvalles and Grafton

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

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

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

This Month Only – Dupont at Franklin

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

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

Hose and Graffitti – Bay Street

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

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

RBC – Ossington and College

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

Hoarding and Tree – West Elm East of Jefferson

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

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

Currently I’m inspired by almost anything I see.

Post Office – Millwood and Malcolm

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

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

StorageMart – Research Road

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

Log – Don Valley Pathway

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

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

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

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Wandering Images

These are the Wandering images and brief descriptions of what each of the photographs represent. Little blurbs about what I was thinking when I took each of the photographs or what the subjects each mean to me.  These are informal snippets of thought.

Opening – Dundas West Roncesvalles

The more I live with this photograph the more it becomes one of my favourites. It’s also took me months to shoot, if you can believe that.  I had initially left this un-cropped in a standard landscape ratio. It was OK in that 2:3 ratio but something bugged me about it. After a while of staring at the shot I figure out that when the frame of the picture was rectangular it battled with the portrait oriented rectangle of the opening. It wasn’t until I made it square like all the other images in this series that the image was a success.

On the east side of Roncesvalle if you’re heading south, just before the lights that separate Roncesvalles proper from Dundas West there’s a driveway that takes you back to the most decrepit auto shop you can imagine. It’s like something out of another century. The gravel in the photo is the driveway back to this shack. The opening itself is the side wall of an apartment and strip mall building. I’m standing in the ramp that just to the left of the frame leads down to the underground parking. I’m not quite sure what this little openings purpose is. It might actually be a thoughtful modification to the building to allow light to pass through and naturally illuminate the area where I’m standing which is shaded by the overhang of the actual building.

It’s the absurdity of the opening,  the colours and shapes of the walls and the yellow post and how they sit within and around the rectangular space of that opening that I love more and more. It just feels good.

Sandro Martini and Fan – Grenville at Bay

This image was  taken on what became a pivotal day of wandering. I’d been unable to capture anything I liked day after day. Nothing I was shooting was striking me as interesting or printable until I came upon this.

The photograph captures the architectural space being constructed inside a new condo building. The lower floors on the Grenville Street side end of the Murano building make up a glass room to be used at some unspecified date in the future as a restaurant. Inside this space the Italian fresco painter Sandro Martini has installed an ambitious, commissioned, public art series of abstract panels on the walls and on floor level glass partition walls. At the time that I took this image the room was bereft of everything except this fan, a table, small fire extinguisher, news paper (on the floor) and Martini’s paintings. My guess is that the fan was used to dry the paint required to join the preprinted wall panels together that make up the finished installation piece.

This photograph was taken by resting the lens ring on the exterior of the buildings glass wall/window and shooting through into the expanse of what will be the restaurant. There are a bunch of things I like about this image.

First the composition conforms to a structure that recurs frequently in my work. Here the picture plane is broken into three relatively equal horizontal strips creating an internal triptych. This compositional style attached itself to me through a series of horizon photographs I shot about six or seven hers ago on the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. in those photographs the three horizontal strips of composition were typically made up of beach, water and sky.

The colours and complexity of the fresco painting contrast with the monochromatic surroundings and simplicity of the walls and the grey of the concrete floor.

As a critic once remarked it’s a simple expository shot. I like the term expository. A big part of the point here is to simply document what I see and describe why I think it’s interesting. Lately I’ve been thinking my work relates more and more to Bernd & Hilla Becher and their obsessive documentation of the commonplace. my work could be considered fine art, journalism, cataloging or simple straightforward observation.

Electrical Panel – Bohemian Embassy Queen Street

Like a few other photographs in this series I was never inside this space. I took the photograph through the glass facade.

I spent small patches of my life doing construction work. I did this for income, to help my father build a cottage and to renovate my home. I’m still doing this sort of work but sporadically as I get lazier and lazier. I’ve done electrical work, plumbing, framing, flooring, roofing and concrete foundation and footing work. I can’t consider myself very good at any of it, although I can swing a hammer very confidently. It does however give me an appreciation for skilled trades. I’m also interested in the complete foreign nature of this work to lots of people. They’ve never done it and therefore never had any chance to even comprehend it. My brother is the same as me only he has taken it to the next level and is basically capable of any job no matter what the size. He’s also very talented it and design in general and all of his skill comes from trial and error. My father was the catalyst for all this hands on type work. He built and renovated all his life and would have much happier if he’d been a cabinet maker or framer than an accountant.

I took this picture because I think the Bohemian Embassy is hideous and this is one of the only things of aesthetic interest I could salvage out of the architectural mess. Seriously, where have all the architects gone and where are the builders with vision? It’s all so transparently budget! This place is a glorified strip mall. It couldn’t be more ironically named. Maybe I’m too harsh but we seem to be extremely capable of building completely unremarkable buildings in this city. The condo craze is awesome for bringing people into the core of the city, I’m all about density. The sad truth however is that their moving into shitty, boring buildings constructed to save as much money as possible with no regard for actual design or aesthetic. I don’t however think the builders are to blame for all the negative I feel about these places. This electrical panel’s immaculately organized schematic and the reserved yet capably executed drywall mudding make me smile. By far the best thing about a remarkably unimaginative structrure.

Hydro Pole – Don Valley Pathway

For a few days in 2012 I took the 25 km bicycle route to the office. I even took time on these trips to stop and wander around which stretched the trip time well over 2 hours. It was great. This image was taken the same week I shot “Log – Don Valley Pathway” and contains much of the same humour.

There are a series of these hydro poles in an area just off the path north of Todmorden Mills and west of the Don River. I’m sure at one point they served as some sort of support for actual hydro lines but now they stand idle, the odd one festooned by a modest bird house. This composition made me laugh. The hydro pole stands in for the trunk of the tree in the background. This immediately reminded my of my childhood.

When we were small my parents were huge into secular Christmas. We had plywood cutouts for the front lawn, spot lights, Christmas lights and a huge tree with an obscene amount of gifts. Part of the annual preparation was for each kid to take a synthetic tree that consisted of a piece of doweling with angled holes drilled into it and glorified pipe cleaners that were draped with short pieces of tinsel. You built your tree and it sat in your room. Once it was assembled you wrapped the gifts you’d purchased for other family members and put them under the tree in your room until Christmas eve when they would be transported downstairs into the family room and under the tree with everyone else’s gifts.

This is what this tree and pole seemed to be recalling for me.

The incredible swath of darkness around the base of the pole interest me as well. It was early in the morning and the sun was very low.

Shiatsu – Rocesvalles

When I describe my images as Zen, this is an almost perfect example.

On Roncesvalles about a block north of Queen on the east side of the road is a non de script commercial strip mall on the bottom of a low rise apartment building. It’s not overly ambitious and all of the business here is very low key. This suite is for rent and use to be a Shiatsu clinic. The only reason I know that is by going back into the living history of Google Street View. I can take a trip back a few years and find this place.

I was instantly struck by the immaculate cleanliness of the interior and the subtle and calming lilac paint job. I shot this through the window which was also clean. The place is so immaculate that the colour and definition appears incredibly softened in comparison to my other ages shot through widows. It really does become a kind of hard lined abstract painting, and indeed I might try and paint this image or make a 3-D maquette of it and then photograph that construction and really try and make it look lie a painting.

I went back three or four times to the place. At one time I had a run in with the owner who had a bit of a shit fit with me taking pictures of it. I was very pleasant but she was obviously not a happy sort so I quickly went on my way. I’m not sure of the place is still vacant.

This Month Only – Perth at DuPont

This taken at the side of the scariest bar in my neighborhood. The signage actually reads “This Month Only” and the sidewalk in front usually has 3 or 4 very sketchy looking people hanging around smoking. It’s the kind of place where the bartender is about 90 without a hint of it being on purpose. I’ve never been in for a drink, but then again I never liked Labatt’s Blue.

There’s nothing aesthetically interesting about the place, or there wasn’t until they did some “renovations” inside and piled the garbage up here beside the building. I couldn’t have arranged the stuff to be more perfect. The colors, textures and lines of this natural tableau still freak me out when I look at this.

Here’s a perfect example of a place I pass by hundreds of times, and on one particular day for perhaps only a few hours it’s transformed by accident into something I find extraordinary. 

Log – Don Valley Pathway

Log was discovered while riding my bicycle north on the Don Valley Pathway. That’s the amazing pedestrian/cycle route that follows the path of the DVP up from Lakeshore to well passed where I took this shot just south of the Brickworks on the east side of the river. If you ever get the time and feel like discovering a very special part of the city, this is a wonderful outing. I’m so fortunate to be able to travel on this route to work every day during the spring, summer and fall. It’s a long trip but I plan to take it every day I can in 2013 because it’s so spectacular. This route to work on my bicycle takes about 90 minutes and cover approximately 25 km. I consider it a privilege to be able to take this route to work. most people commute by car to and from the city on journeys that often take this long.

This photograph is taken of an off ramp that might serve as access to the Pathway if it wasn’t gated off. You could drive down this if you traveled across the valley floor from West to East. That’s sort of hard to describe without a map. I don’t think the road is ever used for actual vehicles. It may have been at one time but it’s not now. The asphalt  is old but in good shape. You can see this place when traveling on the subway as it moves from Castle Frank to Broadview  looking out the north windows of the train.

I assume a few kids found this log, dragged it across the road and left it. This is not really dangerous, just funny. Taken on a rare beautiful late summer day. It was such a pleasure to find. I almost wonder of the perpetrators might have been artists. If they weren’t it’s a great example of unintentional found art. I’d love to explain to the perpetrators of this why I was so pleasantly freaked out when I stumbled upon it. Even if they were a little drunk when they created the scene I love how it works on so many levels.

First it’s a blatantly absurd tableau in a rather idyllic setting in what could be considered the heart of the city. Part of the attraction is the positively perfect sense of danger where there is no danger.

Another intriguing aspect of this is the log itself. It’s possibly the largest and most perfect piece of driftwood I’ve ever seen.

Abacus Office – Dundas Street West

The abandoned condominium office could be a complete series in itself. I’ve taken pictures for years all over the cities downtown core and west end that features these forgotten and forlorn marketing structures that have served their purpose and wait in limbo to be leveled so the foundations of the new structure can be built. It’s hard to imagine these interiors were once the main marketing thrust of these crazy places. In this particular room, left of the frame there’s a hole blasted through the drywall. It looks like someone just simply attacked the wall with a hammer to make a passageway between the rooms, once the structure had served it’s usefulness. To me this speaks of the falsity of Condo marketing. They sell lifestyle to those who may not be fully aware of it. They’re are in the business of cool and I sometimes forget who they are trying to attract.

The abacus building will be really quite modest in size but it does interesting so much better than things like the Bohemian Embassy. It’s not a comment on the quality of this particular building. I really like this building’s plans if I’m being honest and I think the people who bought places in here will be well served with them while the building itself adds to the aesthetic of the neighbourhood without being too tall to really detract from it.

I particularly like the left and forgotten, knock-off Saarinen – Knoll Tulip Table. Even these knock-offs are probably going to set you back $1000.00, which although much better than the $3500.00 for a real one is pretty expensive for a prop.

A few weeks after writing this completely uninformed little blurb above about the Abacus Office, The Toronto Standard has published an article on the developer Antonio Azevedo. He sounds very cool. I like the building even more now.

Brush – Gardiner Expressway

I’m fascinated by the unused land that surrounds municipal infrastructure. It started by exploring the cloverleaf of green space that is contained within the ramps an access roads that make up the DVP and Eglington interchange which I’ve explored a bunch of times.

On the north side of Lakeshore between Parklawn and Royal York there’s an abundance of this sort of space. It’s unused for the most part. This image was taken of a stretch of incline that rises to the Gardiner Expressway. The guardrail, signage and bush all help to make up this relatively absurd still life of the forgotten greenery of the city. I’m sure there’s a larger project in this subject matter.

Hose and Graffiti – Bay Street

What a prefect little grouping of oddities. I’m a sucker for cinder block and the white splotch of the covered up graffiti, the orange text that’s still vibrant, the green mesh tarps and casually coiled black hose are all balanced nicely by the electrical panels on one side and the column and wall detail contour on the other.

There’s also such a sense of order here. On a typical construction site everything is kept very neatly, I know because I use to be responsible for the cleaning of such places because I was the lowest construction grunt on a site.

Here in lies another fascination that I’ve yet to fully explore. Once again this photograph is taken through glass on a Sunday morning when no construction crews were around to chase me away. Ever since I took pictures of the construction of the Diamond and Schmitt Hudson building at King and Spadina through the glass, and the excavation site where the Tiff building now stands on King, I’ve wanted to explore construction more. In particular I’d like to shoot the excavation sites for large towers. There’s something intriguing about the empty hole with retaining supports that serves as the very beginning of the construction process. It’s such a huge undertaking. I’ve made lame attempts to get access to these type of locations, but I’ve always been so half assed about it that it’s never amounted to anything. I sometimes dream about being a documenter in a huge project like this. Being able to follow it through and gain access to every aspect of the construction along the way. I could serve a useful purpose for the contractors and building owners as well I could get a bunch of images for an exhibition.

I’m also a sucker for cinder block. It’s a very practical construction material. My understanding is that it’s much cheaper than poured concrete. There’s something about the uniformity of the block, the colour and the texture. It’s raw but somewhat refined. I think this interest in construction and block was part of the motivation for my Nuit Blanche project in 2010 where I moved about 16 tonnes of cinder block piece by piece from one spot to another then back again in The task.

RBC – College and Ossington

Like many of the other images I shoot this image was years in the making. I’ve lived in the west end of the city now for about 10 years. Over that time I’ve become an avid walker, and sometimes end up in this neighbourhood  It’s now beginning to change and become a little more gentrified but there’s still a large older population here and this bank obviously serves some of them. I’ve stood on this corner to catch the Ossington bus north or the Dundas West streetcar west uncounted times. Every time it seems like it’s one of the longest waits in the city for either. It’s probably my imagination but I also think it’s the city being unaware of their changing demographic and how to service them. Anyway, I’ve stared at this building a lot over the years.

Brutalist Bench – Charles Street

This is one of those locations where I haven’t actually visited often. I’ve been twice. The area is going through astounding transformation to the east with new high-end condo buildings. This is also pretty close to the now defunct Jarvis bicycle lanes, a sad Rob Ford story if there ever was one.

Brutalist architecture intrigues me. The Robarts Library on the University of Toronto campus, The old Bata Shoe head office on Eglington that has now been torn down, the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor to name a few. I don’t really like them but they interest me with their echoes of cold war European style.

The bench, leaves and pigeons are somewhat idyllic in contrast to the functional hydro building behind but even the hard, concrete patterning of the buildings facade is somewhat mellowed by the elements. Everything here is old. They certainly don’t have many benches like that hanging around the city any longer. I could imagine being 20 years older and sitting on this bench for hours.

StorageMart – Research Road

I wandered this area for weeks in the fall. There’s a ton of fairly light industrial use buildings, a lot of auto body shops, and now a plethora of new mass retail strip malls. I passed this building a bunch of time before I took some photographs. There’s something distinctly Canadian about this image in a mixed up way. There’s the direct reference to the Canadian flag in the actual structure of the composition, but there’s also something disturbingly nationalistic about self-storage.

When I grew up in the suburbs there were storage facilities like these all over the place. I also see so many of these places with their stereo-typically ”notice me” colours” on the outskirts of small towns like Collingwood and Seaforth. It astounds me that so many people have so much stuff that they need to store things to make room in their house. There’s also the aspect of storing things to hide them, hoarding, or transitional space  Often these places are used when renovating, or when actually moving from place to place. I can’t help but think though that 90% of the stuff sorted in these places is garbage accumulated over years of acquiring. I feel sort of lucky that we save very little. It just isn’t practical with a small home. Even things I’ve got loaded in the basement right now are 90% garbage that I just can’t get rid of easily. It’s amazing how much garbage we transport and store over the course of a lifetime. I think it’s sort of the mark of a spoiled society.

Post Office – Millwood and Malcolm

There will be a new condo building here in the next five years. Right now the existing post office was closed and stripped down to the metal studs. Another shot through the doorway glass of this building.

Post offices resonate with me on several levels. My father gave me his crazed stamp collection from the 30s and 40s when I was a kid and I collected stamps for a few years when I was in my early teens. I used to buy every new stamp that came out for a few years. I’d buy plate blocks and put them in a 70s style Back’s Photo album.

There’s also the fact that I was the generation that saw the introduction of e-mail and cellular phones. The downward spiral of the post office and it’s roll in day to day life. I’m not sure about anyone else but now I associate the mail with endless junk marketing, some bills and internet product delivery. The day of getting actual correspondence in the mail is long gone.

Finally there’s a distinct construction and contracting element to this image. I still make walls out of 2×4 timber and never really worked with metal stud walls too much except on industrial type sites. It’s still a little foreign and interesting to me.

Hoarding and Tree – West Elm East of Jefferson

In Liberty Village there’s still a lot of conversion happening. Older office and industrial buildings being gutted and reconfigured for condo usage. It’s amazing that I use to hang around here when it was nothing but artist studios and industrial space. No one would think to live here except artists trying to save a buck and hang in their studios. It still flabbergasts me that a lifestyle that was born out of economic necessity became a contemporary marketing and lifestyle aspiration! This whole area now has thousands of young professionals living in what they feel is a bohemian manner but with all mod cons.

There’s a bunch of things I like about this image. The tree itself is desperately out of place amidst the hoarding and scaffolding of the facade renovation.  The triptych-like split of the horizontal lines made up of the turquoise, blue and turquoise strips of the construction. The sadly bent and empty bicycle post. Lastly the area on the blue tarp where some bird or group of bids has left it’s mark from sitting on the tree branch and whiling away the hours despite the construction.

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The Tree

The Tree images were taken several months apart. The first image was taken during the summer of 2012, the second in October of the same year and the third one in early February 2013.I think about this tree every day. I like it.

It’s secluded but steadfast.  A big part of the attraction for me is that the evergreen hasn’t changed whatsoever over the two or three months between these images but the landscape has moved from summer through the beginnings of autumn and now we’re fully entrenched in winter. The OCD part of me wants to keep shooting this tree every few months for the rest of my life. It’s pretty easy for me to get to, but I doubt it’s a destination point for anyone else with the possible exception of the tow truck drivers who sit waiting for DVP accidents to happen.

This sort of thing has been done a lot. Shooting the same scene at different times. This particular project however could move more in the direction of performance. I’d like to do several things that involve the tree. I like the idea of walking around it in either the fresh snow, or just in the summer to wear a path in the grass. Maybe some time I could drape the tree in material, or decorate the tree for Christmas. I can also shoot the image at night with some sort of portable light source. There’s an inexhaustible amount  I can do while keeping the frame of the image the same.

The series would be about time and steadfastness. The tree doesn’t change, nor even appear to age over the course of years.

I worry though that I’ll become more attached to the tree and if anything does happen to it there will be some trauma.

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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.

 

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Laird

Laird has been a bit of a journey. I’ve now walked the same route for 4 days and I’ve finally got some other shots I like. It took a while. Because of this I’m beginning to think when I don’t get anything I like it’s all just attitude. I think the shots are there always, there’s always an interesting angle or way to look at the same things even if they are everyday. I just have bad days or weeks, or months and can’t capture them well.

I was calling this shot Oh Canada on Facebook. I’m still not 100% on this one and I may go back and revisit the place but by then I imagine all the leaves will have fallen. This is a self-storage place off of Laird behind the Mercedes dealership and the Marshalls store.

Below is a paint booth from one of the many car and truck places along the Laird strip. I really love the weird clinical look of spray booths and this one is awesome. I shot it very quickly and was pleasantly surprised when I got it home and had something I could use.

It’s not straight on which I’m happy about too.

This space below was at one point a post office. I’m guessing it will end up being the sales office for a new condo. The cold horizontal and vertical lines created by the metal stud walls makes me happy. There’s a little lens distortion that I have to fix, but overall it’s pretty clean.

This is the receiving dock of the Brewer’s Retail in the new Longo big box mall.

This one’s just sort of funny. It’s the weirdest place… I guess they make pie or they’re a graphic design place.

These flowers below were found on one of my first trips to Laird. It’s very suburban and in a weird flux between the small industrial/retail stuff that’s always been there and the new big box more “modern” junk. I like this image. I thought about the shot the whole day that I originally took it and when I finally got home and looked at that evening there was something bugging me so I went back to reshoot it today. I wanted to remove a very obvious shadow of myself and a glaring red stoplight from the reflection.

The return visit ended up being later in the morning and the day was sunny. The worker/owner in the dry cleaners had also moved the Visa sign for some strange reason.

These are fake flowers in a window of a modest dry cleaners that’s privately owned. I went inside to ask the person working there if they minded and they actually smiled. They were very pleasant and had no problem with me taking photographs as they toiled away inside. That makes this picture mean more to me. The woman was a bit older than me but seemed way older, she also seemed very happy and at ease with life.

Despite the fact that these are fake there’s something genuine about them. They’re obviously cared for and I think they’re also well arranged. The shop person’s intent was to make people –and perhaps themselves– feel good, not just to market to them and bring them in the shop. At least that’s what I imagine.

The flowers themselves are in an exaggerated full bloom. I don’t think you really see roses like this very often. They will also perpetually be in this state. I think I’d like to return and take more photos as time moves on. There’s a funny optimism I see when I look at this image.

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Eureka!

Eureka! I took some images I like finally! Thanksgiving weekend has been relatively productive. It did take 7 hours of walking around on Saturday and Sunday, but it feels pretty good. I may actually have enough for a show now in January.

I like this image. So much so that I’d like to use it in the January “Wandering” show at Bau-Xi Photo however there’s a problem. The painting in the background isn’t mine. It’s part of the interior design of this future restaurant in the Burano Condo building at Bay and Grosvenor. The painter’s name is Sandro Martini. I’ve asked him via the contact on his website if it’s OK. I legally have to ask because his image is a big part of my image, it takes up about 1/3 of the frame. I’m not sure he’ll reply, if he doesn’t I think I’ll have to scrap the image, sadly. I do really like this image.

Technically the following image was shot on Friday. I’ve started to head out early and walk part of the 17 km to work so I can shoot. Even if I don’t get anything it’s the effort to shoot everyday. This was taken on Dundas a few blocks before you hit Ossington. I like the dark of the alleyway and how it acts as a natural frame for the square patch containing the greenery and the light.

The shot above was also taken on Bay Street after I shot the Burano picture. This is closer to Bloor. I’ve shot this weird stand-alone structure a few times but it’s windows have always been too dirty to get a good shot. Once upon a time it was a very crappy variety store. It took years but someone has finally figured they could utilize the space so it’s been cleaned up impressively and the windows are actually clear enough to shoot through properly now.

On King Street the area just east of Sherbourne has always been a little rough. This butcher has been there for at least 20 years, and more likely about 50. Although the signs in the window are obviously new. They haven’t faded a bit and printing just wasn’t that good that long ago. Maybe it’s not that old and the owners just have a knack of making it look vintage. I love the white contractor’s van as well. This is also a very popular place to take pics just search images for Seaton Butcher Shop

Behind the Eaton Centre there’s a crazy old church. There’s also a literal rat’s warren of pathways and thoroughfares. There’s even a brick labyrinth surrounded by trees which is nice despite the sketchy people hanging around and smoking on a Saturday at around 8:30 a.m. This wall isn’t part of the church. I’m not quite sure what it belongs to. I liked the way the patchwork bricks play with the changing leaves, the greenery and the architectural arches and curves.

This is one of my favourite interior construction shots to date. The combo of the great green tarp, hose, and covered over graffiti is so organized but random.

I meandered back to an old shooting location. This is a Hydro substation of some sort on Charles just east of church. You can see why they called this style brutalist architecture.

On the Esplanade just west of the St Lawrence Market there are a ton of businesses on top of all the stores and each seems to have multiple entrances like this one. I’m pleased with this shot because of the architectural detail, the almost repulsive colours and the weird angle. I’m typically either 45 degrees from subject or looking at it straight on. This 16 degree thing happens very infrequently and so it feels rather novel.

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Finally more Bay Street. Bay was my saviour location this weekend. If I remember correctly this place was a restaurant. It’s a short little building that stands on it’s own and will be torn down to make way for more condominiums. Through the window I shot this structure which was probably the backdrop for their sales desk. I’ll adjust this image so it’s not quite as distorted as it appears in this shot. I like the bizarre nature of this room in general and the weird chunk of extension cord on the fl

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Quadrilateral

The first real “walkabout” in 8 months. Not much to show for it but aching feet and proof that I’m obsessed with geometry. Although I do really love this image. It’s strange but I’ve been shooting this same “scene” for about 10 years. I think I finally captured why it interests me. Or I might be totally insane.

The following image is another reference to squares, but also a neat little homage to the student demonstrations in Quebec. I sat on the fence for the longest time about these demonstrations, now I’m fully on board. Education should be affordable, and governments should listen to the people that put them in power. To all the naysayers out there…just because we don’t have inexpensive post secondary education doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.

Finally orange. A nice added little reflection of a bicycle in a picture that really does show a lot of why I like this city.

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