Jul 012013

I will be posting a series of images and ruminations following a recent field trip to François Newfoundland. This work is part of a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada that I am collaborating on with my colleagues Marlene MacCallum and David Morrish; we are looking into ideas around collaboration-dissemination-creation as a cyclical, even indefinite, process. We are also working with Clifton Meador and Steve Woodall who are faculty at Columbia College in Chicago, C.M. was part of this filed work.


Experiences, locations, dislocations yes, especially dislocations are pretty well what research in media is all about. I really do not know what to call it all anymore; words like “media” seem to point to an idea that the tools being used are the context for the discussion; as a species, artists are really having a hard time moving away from this object oriented way of thinking. One could argue, and this is the position of the Commission, that an artistic practice is primarily an intellectual activity. An intellectual activity must include all aspects of sensation, art allows us to make an attempt at giving all this information (data) a presence within and without the imagination. This includes all the methodologies/technologies of “making” appropriate to how the intellectual filtering of  said experience finds an audience/user.

East Point (right)

West Point (left)

Chaleur Bay (east)

François Bay (west)

Standing still, vertiginous.


Between François and Chaleur

Between François and Chaleur

Jun 162013

And I have been wondering lately, wondering a lot actually, about what has become of the image. The photographic image to be precise. The reflection is not nostalgic, melancholic or anything like that; it is critical, whimsical and with any luck at all optimistic. The ease, speed and technical apparatus for taking pictures has become absolutely and totally ubiquitous. Instagram is everywhere, curating assembled visions of the world by simply adding a # in front of a word. A couple of clicks here and there and one has a high quality, limited edition, audience focussed bound volume, in full colour and showing all the smiles and chuckles of the quotidian.

One cannot but think of Seymour Parrish’s overdub “Family photos do keep smiling faces. Births, weddings, holidays, children’s birthday parties… People take pictures of the happy moment in their lives. Someone looking through a photo album could conclude we had lead a joyous, leisurely existence. Free of tragedy. No one ever takes a picture of something they want to forget.” [One Hour Photo, 2002]

St. John's Trio

St. John’s Newfoundland, 2012

Now, we are taking photographs of all our moments, not always the smiley face happy times (though there is always a plethora of grins, real and staged, to wade through). What is interesting is asking ourselves whether this represents the final secularization of the image, of all images. Does this strip away meaning? Does it prove that looking for meaning was/is a red herring?

In many ways, the “art” photographer’s job was indeed to try and accumulate the images of those things that we very well may want to forget. Sometimes this could take the guise of making a statement on various constructions of social co-existence,  recording a moment of ephemeral passage, creating a record of whatever. All this fancy language seems utterly useless to interpret what is happening now that these statements are made by vast curated assemblages represented by the #tag.

The image is finally free of the maker, is it?