December 31, 1993

1993 Year in Review


8"x10" film
If 1991 was seminal in my growth towards my work today, then 1993 was a year of major growth in terms of discovering why I do what I do. It was also the year that I started using the word "Mortalities" to describe my images. In some ways, discovering the idea of Mortalities was just as important as realizing the images which portray it and I will explain more of what this concept means to me in the context of 1993's discoveries.
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The year begun on an incredible high. M_, who had modeled for me over the winter indoors and in the studio, did some mid-May modelling at Chebucto Head. From that session came the image at the top which spoke so clearly that for weeks I could think of nothing else. It still is among my strongest images, and as a circle is pretty unique among my images. It's one of the few images which I have which is unique both in composition and pose. Much of my work tends to be variations on themes, but this images is almost singular in tone, and, as such, is among the best of my work.
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Where 1993 began with a strong nude, it also provided a long, steady flow of successful images of the fortifications around Halifax. Though I had started consciously working with the Ruin in 1990, it wasn't until this year that I began to put my abstract ideas into a concrete form.
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In some ways, being asked to explain why I do what I do is the most frustrating part of art making. The images flow well enough, but when it comes to explaining why, I tend to fall flat. In 1991, however, I began to analyze exactly what attracted me to the Nude and the Ruin, and to see parallels and similarities between them. It was this process which eventually lead to the use of the word "Mortalities" in conjunction with both bodies of work. The pull of the Nude and Ruin for me lies in their connection to ideas of permanence and immortality. The Ruin, with its monolithic strength and forceful imposition screams of man's constant struggle with the world around him, and his refusal to accept the fleeting nature of his existence.
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Similarly, photography of the Nude could be seen as an attempt towards gaining immortality through the recording of a body on film. When I began working with the Nude five years before, I was drawn to it in a way I couldn't express - there was a very quiet element to the work that refused to be named, but which was integral to my interest. It took five years for me to grow sensitive enough to listen to the whisper - the whisper of immortality. The reality that these photographs will outlive their subjects gives them an immortality that is unattainable by their subjects in the real world. From the moment the images are frozen on film, they remain unchanged, though the world around them moves on. The images serve as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life, and of the irresistible march of time. Mortalities, in the same manner as it applies to the ruin, has a parallel meaning with the nude.
4"x5" film
Becoming conscious of this element in my work didn't so much change my work as change the way I looked at it. Where before I could express my interest in the aesthetic nature of the body, I could now explain why photography played such a crucial part in that process; a drawing or painting was an obvious expression of the vision of the artist, but it was also created in a media that did not lend itself to verisimilitude, to the imitation of the real. Even photo-realistic painting is just that, a painting. People view photography as being of the real, and and extension of this to the creation of a photograph, ever unchanging, makes it become the creation of an immortal moment.
8"x10" film
With the discovery of the elements of immortality in my work, there was an instant connection between my nude and ruin images on a concrete level. Where before I was working blind, following instinct and drive, I suddenly began to be able to view my work, previously divided into separate bodies, as part of a whole. Photographs of fading concrete, being overwhelmed by time and nature, and images of the body, frozen forever in an instant of beauty, served as quiet, haunting reminders of the frailty of ourselves. Beyond the aesthetic, visual appeal of the work, there was now a deeper level of understanding for me, which permitted me more distance from each individual image, and a way to join the work in a holistic sense.
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The moving beyond knowing what I wanted to express into knowing why I was expressing it was incredibly important to my work. A conscious purpose is simpler to follow and express than a sub-conscious one, and from 1993 onward, the main focus of debate and issue in my work shifted from the what and why, to how. Where before I debated abstracts and concepts, now I could settle down and look at technique.
8"x10" film

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