I generally put restrictions on my work: each project is limited by the rules of that project. For the entirety of one project I generally try to limit myself to one film format. Film to me seems more like a discipline that demands respect. For a long time, I shot my professional work on film, then at some point I started to shoot a mix of digital and film. Still, my personal work was always on film.
Last summer I did an Instagram thing with a gallery. I was expected to shoot and post a picture every day for a week — a picture that gave viewers a sense of place, of where I live. I entertained the notion of shooting film, but to shoot, develop and scan every day in addition to my other daily responsibilities just seemed impossible.
So, a few weeks before the project started, I started shooting digital landscapes and putting no restrictions on the work. I just made pictures that I thought gave a sense of place and were fun to look at. I enjoyed working like that and have continued. These pictures are the result of that endeavor.
I am interested in observing changes in the constantly-evolving cities and documenting those aspects which might change its purpose, form, meaning or become no more than a memory.
I am curious how we interact, use and shape our surroundings and how the surroundings are shaped for us. When photographing the city I am looking for manifestations of socio-economic forces, which shaped the built environment I am currently documenting.
I moved to Ottawa from Aberdeen, Scotland in 2016 and as previously I am using photography to discover, understand and document my new home. Since my arrival from Scotland I try to decode the new reality I am surrounded by and learn its semiotics.
The range of topics that I regard as noteworthy is broad and eclectic and winter is one of them. I am continuing to document this season not for its so-called picturesque quality but for its transformative force and ability to repurpose the landscape.
Harsh and snowy winter is inseparable from life in Canada but global warming might change that so I want to have a record of the current state. I am not looking for the sublime as the 19-century Romantic artist would — however it is interesting to see how bleak can be perceived as such if we forget about the wider context and frankly, thanks to the technological advances, most of us can afford to do so.
Apart from photographing in frigid conditions, I am also working on documentation of Ottawa’s waterways and other aspects of its urban environment with the hope of creating a more comprehensive body of work about this city.
Painters and photographers of the uninhabited wilderness have used selection and composition as an antidote for perceived disorder and, thus, suggest a place to venture and explore no matter how dangerous. There are wildernesses within civilization created by abandonment and other unintentional acts. These out-of-the-way places have a certain desolation and emptiness. They suggest loss, separation, alienation, failure, and futility.
Abandonment is a statement of failure of an object, a construction, a creation, to satisfy the needs of the creator or the owner. Each instance of abandonment begs a historical narrative, in a sense, a minor crime drama with motive, method, and opportunity to be discovered or at least pondered.
I am a visual explorer that is excited by particular, chance arrangements of items left and found together. I seek out these places where structure and disorder — the designed and the not designed — interact.
We humans are social animals, but also tribal. We harbor a capacity to turn on our neighbors with malevolence, often without warning, sometimes with murderous results. This instinct seems not to diminish with the development of complex modern societies; it continues to manifest itself in the form of hate, intolerance, and bloodshed. This capacity seems to reside not far below the surface.
This atavistic flaw in our character takes many forms that I will explore here, including genocide, massacres, lynching, race riots, mass incarceration, and civil war.
I have been thinking about these issues for many years. Recently, I’ve struggled to find a visual vocabulary to explain and describe both the events and the phenomenon. Unavoidably, part of my exploration focuses on these very limitations: limitations of art in general, and photography in particular. How does one convey what happened in these places? This challenge is interesting in itself. Rarely does much physical evidence remain, though monuments and memorials sometimes serve as perverse scars. Mostly this lack of evidence touches on what Elisa Adami calls “Presence of Absence.” We know terrible things happened in these locations from the historical record — there does seem to be a kind of “after presence” — but is difficult to know for sure, and even more difficult to evince. The absence of physical evidence makes these utterly-ordinary locations all the more poignant.