MaRS (on Photography)

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The new MaRS building at University and College.

We live in an age of film. An age of action and narrative. Every motion or emotion we experience can be mentally viewed from above, beside, in front or on an angle. It can be seen as a slow pan, dissolving into the next shot or scene. I think this is the common imagining of our generation, and it’s been amplified to be even more commonplace with each year since the invention of film and the availability and proliferation of the medium.

Photography—in contrast—helps me break from this mould or habitual way of seeing. Although it’s still intimately embroiled in the illusion of capturing, it’s distinct lack of duration helps to break the cycle of common seeing. Photography is still firmly rooted in time, but to me it’s inherent sentimentally is inescapable–and that’s a key characteristic of how I see.

I could take pictures of sunsets or other wonderfully complete moments of stereotypical beauty, but those things just don’t interest me. I prefer to experience those things and commit them to memory no matter how infallible and inaccurate that memory can be. I still appreciate what might be considered the picturesque, but I don’t need a record of it, and I’m not engaged to talk about it. Beautiful photographs have their own value, but to me they touch a little to close to a common consensus on what beauty is. I think that delusional in a way.

I love the everyday. I enjoy the passed over. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than passing by a very pedestrian tableaux year after year and finally seeing it with the fresh realization that “this is captivating”. That moment will never be the same again, so I give in to the sentimentality and through my photographs strive to remember how I felt when I truly saw something for the first time despite seeing it hundreds of times.

There’s nobody in my photographs, but I think they are all full of people. At the very least they are full of me looking at something. I populate every image I take. It might be interesting to take pictures in a way that removes me from a place completely. Maybe I’ll buy an intervalometer and experiment with taking pictures of the subjects that interest me from a removed location. Sort of like ‘If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it really make a sound?” For now tough I’m happy to be included in the images.

Most of what I take has been seen or will be seen by thousands of people and nobody will find it fascinating enough to capture, but I hope–however presumptuously– that’s another way my image making differs from the norm. How it hopefully becomes unique.

I’m interested in places that are typically populated or were once populated at specific times when nobody is there. Despite this lack of the human, I hope my photographs are embed with people, the thought of people and how a place changes when those people not present. Hopefully everything I shoot is full of the spirit of people. Not in a mystical, or metaphysical manner, but in a logical way. People leave traces of skin, footmarks, dust, memories, and those things fill the picture plane.

Lately I’ve been more and more interested in making photographs rather than taking photographs. I’ll explore this process for a while and I have a sneaking suspicion that after thousands of hours I’ll finally figure it out. It will however still be rooted in the everyday, the common.

I don’t want to be known as a photographer. That’s not because I don’t believe in photography, or I find it limiting, or somehow wanting. It’s simply because I envision myself learning to write, paint, sculpt, act, and a myriad of other things as  I grow older, as I think about things more. That excites me. I’ll always make photographs. I would however just prefer to be known as an artist. That term seems to me a less constrained and defined term. I see myself as the jack of all trade–maybe never the master of any of them–but that diversity will help me to see. To change.

This is an essay in progress. I can’t imagine it making too much sense until I think about it a lot more.

March 13, 2014 I was thinking I might look at existing paintings, photographs or other art and try to commit those pieces to memory. Over a course of time I could then try to recreate those images by finding existing scenes that mimic the subject matter of those things. I can print these then compare the actual original and my “new” version. This came about by seeing a Jeff Wall image that I’ve somehow marked as my favourite by him years after first seeing it and how different int now appears than I’ve imagined. I changed it in my head over time until it became almost unrecognizable. Very strange. The piece in question is Clipped Branches

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