road-tripping the end of the world

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collected

The McMaster Museum of Art has generously purchased two of my works from The Jacket Series above (I have donated the third), and I am supremely honoured and very flattered to now be represented in their permanent collection. The collection at the McMaster Museum of Art is extensive and uniquely diverse; their collections of German expressionist works is almost unparalleled, coupled with an equally impressive archive of impressionist and post-impressionist work, not to mention their contemporary acquisitions, both Canadian and international.

I felt spoiled and privileged to study undergraduate art at a school with such a tremendous resource available to art students, and have always been impressed by the museum’s persistent presence and vision in both the University community, that of Hamilton, and the art community of Canada as a whole.  It’s a huge personal honour to have been “collected” by them. And a personal thanks to Carol, Julie and Ihor and everyone else at the Museum that made this possible and helped the process along!

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underground(s)

I am not often a fan of “urban exploration” (ugh … “Urbex”) photography, but I tend to think that’s more because of the culture than the photography itself. Which, admittedly, seems like a conflict of interest, because half my work is staged in similar areas, but anyway, coming to a semblance of a point: Sticky Sounds, musician, photographer and fellow H.P. Lovecraft fan made a connection with respect to urban exploration photography I hadn’t put together myself for some reason – fear of the unknown connected to the thrill of supernatural horror“.

Somehow this sentence and the Lovecraft connection transformed a lot of Sticky’s photos for me, but what I appreciated more was the context he gave his work (to follow), specifically in the exploration of Manchester’s industrial past:

“The industrial revolution brought great wealth to the city, but hand in hand with this came unparalleled poverty and squalor for a large part of the population. These people were nothing more than cattle for the greater good. A new underclass destined to live in a new kind of hell. The fires of this hell burned and smouldered in the red bricks as smoke billowed constantly from the dark satanic mills. The unbroken, monotonous rumbling of the looms filled the air and mingled with the heat of the steam. The city was a giant machine and its inhabitants reduced to units of labour, small expendable parts of the whole. Not so much a city as an assault on the senses. Overcrowding was chronic with whole families living in single rooms, and little or no sewage works for most of the nineteenth century. The only refuge that most of the poor would ever know from the hardships of their everyday life was found in alcohol. Their anger often expressed itself through violent crime, from domestic violence between husband and with to the youth gangs, or ‘scuttlers’ who ran amok on Manchester’s streets. When you look at these past extremes of the city it raises the question ‘what does it mean to have a life?’ These people remain in Manchester today, in it’s red bricks and the canals that run like veins through the city. As do all inhabitants who come afterwards, we are all Manchester, all serving the beast.” (from http://stickysoundsdotnet.wordpress.com/manchester/ )

Needless to say I quite enjoy the tying of a supernatural horror to the concept of the monstrousness that is the Industrial Revolution. In a coincidental parallelism, I started reading Metro 2033 today, which discusses a similar black unknown in the monstrous labyrinth that exists below the Moscow Metro, unmapped tunnels left over from the equivalent industrial revolution, long forgotten, another source of that preternatural fear of the dark. Speculation in the novel exists as to the true origin and function of these tunnels, hinting at the specter of menace they represent in present-day.

Sticky Sounds, from (Hidden) Manchester: http://stickysoundsdotnet.wordpress.com/manchester/

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finally

My new camera is announced:

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d800/index.htm

Sample images:

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/sample02.htm

… I’ll be getting the D800E. Perhaps I’ll ramble on the subject later. Thank you nikonrumors.com!


one of these leaders is not like the other

Vladimir Putin

Stephen Harper

Vladimir Putin is starting his election year by touring on a motorbike, with Russian motorcycle club The Night Wolves, who were instrumental in the rescue of children and families from war-torn areas during WWII. This man is the coolest dude in world politics, bar none.

And yes, I feel like I’ve polluted this blog by putting a photo of Harper here.

All that being said, the few photos that have emerged from Putin’s tour are pretty interesting from a somewhat analytical viewpoint. Most are at night, most of the vehicles are in black, and he really does look like a proud leader of a motorcycle gang parading across his conquered territory.

Flags and banners, a lack of visible security or bullet screens; there’s a brazenness to it that’s both intimidating and likely ‘inspiring’ of power, all of which softened by the idea that he’s travelling with WWII veterans who rescued children. Not to mention the delicious “pack” mentality that is no doubt infectious to those he’s riding with and visiting. There’s a fairly interesting adaptive form of nationalism at work here, signified by the flags, but masked by motorcycle culture and compassionate military history, and I’d say a little sense of rebellion. Probably more than I have time to write here about, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Mr. Putin. Clever and stylish!


the motel strip in burlington

A while back, a BBC author wrote a short article asking where the Steinbecks of our generation are; a follow up has been posted, as he traces Steinbeck’s route in The Grapes of Wrath around the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14296682

Of note is that the ‘cheap motels’ of the US are rapidly becoming the part-time home for the homeless middle-class; they live there for the first half of the month, when they receive their unemployment benefits, and spend the latter part of the month in shelters.

Plains Road in Burlington, Ontario, has interested me of late, as it has retained a rather long motel strip, ageing back as far as the 50’s. Brief queries have suggested this strip of motels ‘boomed’ when there was an active beach culture along Lake Ontario, before much of it became industrialized or too polluted to support such a thing. How these motels persist now is a bit bewildering, and they may start to vanish now that the condo-culture that has gripped Burlington to the point of insanity now creeps along this very old part of town.

I wonder when, if not already, these motels will be re-purposed to reflect the dire consequences this current depression has had on our economy. Given Burlington strives, persistently, to have as high a per-capita income as possible in Canada (a few years back, the average home in Burlington cost $700,000), it would seem to be a painfully ironic turn of events.

On an entirely random but related note, our house once received a phone message at 4am from someone asking if we still wanted to meet at one of these motels on Plains Road … wrong number, but a hilarious result.


alcohol and form email

Choking on my own lungs this morning, as I’m fighting an annual chest infection, I received the following email in my inbox (click on the cut, I don’t want to litter my front page with this nonsense):

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absence

 

It’s been some six months since I last updated, and it’s a new season and a new year, not really sure what happened to autumn, apart from the obvious things that kept me away, from, well, everything. Hopefully 2011 will yield more consistent results. I’m teaching digital photography at Western until april, so at the very least, I’m anticipating some exciting student work coming across my desk.

Meanwhile, a good friend provided me with some photos from my work in 360 degrés’s outdoor exibition Les Visiteurs, in a small town called Joliette in Quebec; I’m told the large vinyl prints from the exhibition have been recycled into re-useable bags and sold at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, if anyone happens to see them there, snatch one up for me 🙂

I feel like we finished the “Ten Days of Cthulhu” series not too long ago, and already we’re barely a couple months from the season of He Who Is Not Dead But Eternal Lies. Something will have to be done mark the ten days again this year.


welcome

recent events have suggested it might be beneficial to have some kind of a website with contact info. figure this is a good compromise!