The One Pixel Camera, 2014
Taking a first principles approach, The One Pixel Camera reduces the camera’s function down to its primary essence: a mere capture (index) of light. For the project, a camera was specifically designed and constructed so that it can perform no more than this essential function. Nothing but a quantifiable, data-point (pixel) of light information is recorded, and the operator has almost no subjective control in terms of the quality, framing or content of the image. The resultant captures in no way depict the details of the reality recorded, yet they still serve as images, and as documents, on some level.
Additionally, the absurd design magnifies, and makes obvious, the design limitations and rules by which one is bound through the design (program) of the camera. This works to reveal the hidden politics, as described by theorist such as Bruno Latour, Vilém Flusser and Langdon Winner, inherent to technological design and the ways in which design tacitly prescribes and dictates certain behaviours while restricting others.
The project exists as three main components: 1) The camera itself, which functions as a sculptural object or potentially an interactive artwork; 2) The images produced by the camera, labelled with explicit captions indicating their subject matter; and 3) Photographs of the camera in use as documentation of my “performing” the program of the camera. To date, I have been using the camera to produce a series of images depicting clichéd and conventional photographic subject matter, essentially “Kodak Moments”, such as sunsets, family events, outdoor activities, portraits, personal belongings, weddings, and tourist locations.
Essay on The One Pixel Camera
Available as a print-on-demand book
A Series of Boring Videos, 2011-2014
A Series of Boring Videos consists of three videos, Watched (2011), Watching (2012) and Watch (2014), where each video pertains to a specific idiom of boredom: “a watched pot never boils”, “watching paint dry” and “to watch grass grow”, respectively. Beyond a simple tongue-in-cheek literalization of these adages, the videos are meant to encourage the viewer to engage in a close and considered look at what, in actual fact, are very complex physical, chemical, biological and psychological phenomena.
Images of Men, 2012
Watching the emergent gender of my three-year-old daughter as she develops into a little girl, I wonder about the factors that have contributed to her progression. In particular, I am curious about how her toys and her way of playing with them (which is essentially a form of practice for adult life), shape her now and how they might influence the type of adult she eventually becomes.
This has also caused me to reflect on the development of my own gendering and the toys of my childhood. In many ways, my toys presented the masculine role-models and ideals for me to look up to and to model myself after. Going through a box of my old toys, which had remained in storage under the stairs at my parent’s house, I attempted to photograph these toys as I once saw them in order to try to understand what sort of influence they might have had on me.
(50 images in the series - 17” x 22” archival pigments prints)
Available as a print-on-demand book
The Moire Corridor, 2012 (design concept and prototype)
The Moiré Corridor consists of a long fabricated structure: either attached to a wall or in the form of an extended fence. This structure, a double layer of carefully sized and positioned metal slats, makes use of a combination of motion parallax effects and line-moiré interference patterns to produce a perceptual amplification of the viewer’s movement: with the intent of drawing greater attention to their own embodied and active perception. Because this perceived effect is initiated through motion parallax, if the viewer stops moving, the interference patterns will also stop moving, so in order to experience the artwork, one must be in motion.
Beyond the basic design and concept, a mathematical system has been developed in order to calculate and precisely predict the perceptual effects resulting from various fence geometries. From this system, the Moiré Corridor can be reconfigured to fit a wide array of specific sites – both interior and exterior. Additionally, a crude prototype was produced in order to confirm that the mathematical calculations translate into predictable and interesting behaviors in reality. This prototype was shown as part of the exhibition, Prototypes, Experiments and Carefully-Considered Observations (2012), in the Artlab Gallery at Western University, and functioned exactly as intended.
Using the bellows from an old slide duplicator, coupled with a collection of extension tubes, a series of paintings made by Kim Neudorf were photographed in detail at an extreme degree of magnification. Due to the nature of her painting technique, which involves very dilute washes and many thin applications, the paintings retain an incredible degree of complexity even on such a small scale. Through traversing the surfaces of these paintings on this level, a new layer of highly intricate texture, pattern and form becomes apparent in an almost fractal-like manner.
(27 images in the series - 17” x 22” archival pigments prints)
Available as a print-on-demand book
Data Collection, 2010
Data Collection was produced for the Sorting Daemons: Art, Surveillance Regimes and Social Control exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario. The project involved photographing the various identification cards (driver’s licenses, student cards, gym memberships, bankcards, credit cards, etc.) carried by over 100 individuals. The images were exhibited on a 1:1 scale such that all personal information contained on the cards was legible to gallery visitors; however, participants were permitted to remove any cards that they felt uncomfortable with having on display. The removed cards were indicated through replacement with a black “withheld” placeholder card. Beyond functioning as a simple, and very reductive, portrait of these individuals, the project draws attention to the power and risks associated with these cards—and ideally the databases behind the cards as well. Data Collection works to challenge the typical notion of privacy—to keep things secret and hidden away—and instead presents an idea of privacy that allows the individual to retain control over what data is collected, how it is used and who is given access.
(100 images in the series - 12.5” x 9” archival pigments prints mounted on Sintra)
Special thanks to Andrew Clement, Joseph Ferenbok and Karen Smith at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information.
Wildlife addresses three historic taxidermy collections still on display in the city of Banff, Alberta: The Banff Park Museum, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, and the Banff Indian Trading Post souvenir shop. These collections share a common goal of presenting an idealized and romanticized notions of "nature" and "the wild" thus fulfilling tourist desires; however, each has its own agenda in terms of how the artifacts function and what purpose they serve.
The museums are all essentially anachronistic with the Banff Park Museum functioning as a "museum of a museum" presenting a natural history display as it originally appeared 1915; the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum displays a history of the indigenous people of the area as told through a mixture of traditionally garbed mannequins and taxidermy animals dating back to the 1950s; and the Indian Trading Post souvenir shop which originated at the turn of the century is pure spectacle with sagittally severed animal specimens stuck to the wall, and a composite specimen misleadingly labelled as a "The Merman".
The images in the series are of the specimens themselves and printed as cyanotypes in order to evoke a sense of being from a past era. Yet, certain details and slippages complicate these images and their subjects remain in a mixture of present and past, live and dead, idealized and real.
A single-channel video installation depicting a motorcyclist's journey through various regions of Toronto's urban geography as captured by forward-facing and rear-facing cameras. Both streams of footage (or points of view) are rotated ninety degrees and presented as a single composite where both images share a common threshold on the surface the road. The result is a sort of Gestalt reification where previously invisible relationships are made manifest through implication, and new formal structures emerge.
Essay by David Liss from the 2007 MVS Graduating Exhibition Catalogue (page 22)
Image Matter, 2006
Image Matter was a collaboration with Dr. Kevin Robbie, a physicist at Queen’s University, that made use of a scanning electron microscope to image the edge-on (thickness) view of various photographic media. The resultant images were presented on a very large scale (16 inches by 7.5 feet and in some cases 16 inches x 15 feet wide) thus emphasizing the physicality of the photograph and removing all traces of the actual image content—the image content was only referred through the use of captions.
The goal of the project was to emphasize the physicality of the photograph—separating the photographic object from the photographic image—as a way to question notions of value pertaining to photographic images and to investigate how such notions have been altered by advances in digital technology and the introduction of non-physical, digital property. In addition to physical exhibition of the artworks, the project was extended through the production of an online gallery, which made the artwork freely available through a Creative Commons Non-commercial Attribution License.
Image Matter online exhibition
Essay on Image Matter
Traffic Islands, 2005
Photographs of the small parcels of land occurring between on-ramps at major highway junctions. Although driven past by thousands of commuters daily, these marginal sections of land are rarely visited or even noticed. When photographed at night under the high-powered lights that loom overhead these constructed "natural" environments become transformed into strange liminal landscapes.
A series of photographs depicting banal, ironic and humorous situations acting as subtle indicators of the state of North American culture (a continuation of the Out of the Ordinary, 2001 series).
Taken (a camera obscura
van project), 2003, 2007, 2008
A van was converted into a mobile camera obscura in order to replicate aspects of a retinal inversion experiment performed by George Stratton in 1896. Stratton`s experiment worked to question how true and immutable one’s perception of the world actually is. In the experiment, Stratton wore a special pair of glasses that inverted his visual field for an extended period of time: three days for a first test and up to 13 days in later tests. Initially, the glasses were very disorienting for Stratton, but after many hours, he found that he was fully able to adjust to this upside down image of the world. In fact, he adjusted so well that when he eventually removed the glasses, he discovered that his “normal” vision had now become unfamiliar and disorienting.
For Taken, viewers go on a 20 to 30 minute journey, during which they are totally immersed in the inverted, camera obscura, environment within the van. Although, not nearly as long as Stratton’s original experiment, the journey is sufficient to create a transition from a very disorienting (possibly even carsickness inducing) experience, to a state where one can begin to recognize features in the landscape and even figure out their location within the city.
Reconstructed Bodies, 2002
A novel photographic process, involving a pinhole camera with multiple apertures, was developed to replicate aspects of medical imaging technologies, such as MRI and CAT scan, in order to raise questions about how these new technologies alter the way we come to view and understand the human body..
Vague Expressions, 2000
Ambiguous facial expressions and an example of how an extra bit of information can radically alter the meaning of an image. Vague Expressions was produced by photographing scrambled pornographic television transmissions directly off the screen of a TV and then adding false colour.