Monday, October 25, 2010

The Beauty on the Water (May 22, 2007, 8:12am)

At Menaggio, Lago di Como, in Italy.

I remember I woke up very early, at five-something, and I was sleeping in a top bunk at the hostel where we stayed. I think I had a sore back and couldn't easily get back to sleep. I peeked out the window at that time and the view was even more surreal and stunning, but I didn't to make too much noise getting out my camera (and risk waking up anyone else) so I must have dozed off again instead. When I woke up later I did pull out the camera and this was the picture I took.

I love the way so many of the pictures I took at Como demonstrate a kind of reduced/minimalised colour palette; in this photo you can see it in the top half of the picture where what looks like a slight mist seems to to flatten the hills, the chalk-blue sky, and the grey-teal of the water. It's subdued in a way that highlights the sun tripping across the lake, like a handful of glitter tossed across the water, somehow catching the first sun before anything else even though the rays are already beaming down from on high.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Signs of Montréal (August, 2005)

I've always really enjoyed looking at signs, at boring at that may seem. It's like my supermarket fetish, where every time I go overseas I look forward to seeing what's available in the average local grocer... food touristing. Except with signs you get this impression of whatever was thought to convey a particular message most effectively--generally in a simple graphic without words.

Here, I've posted several signs from Montréal--none of which counts as exotic since I looked at them regularly during the three years I spent living there. They never stopped seeming a bit surreal, though, especially the one I called Electrocution Man:

What always "got" me about Electrocution Man, whom I saw almost every day (a copy of this sign was in the Métro Mont-Royal, near where I lived), was that his designers hadn't been content to zap him through the torso with what appears to be a large ragged edged weapon of some sort; oh no. They gave him a face (zoom in!), a face that has a remarkable amount of expressive power for such a crude rendering in plastic profile; and that leaning posture only adds to the effect. Shudder.

The sign above--"Danger"--was attached to one of the old buildings belonging to McGill, near the downtown foot of Mont-Royal (I think this might be 3674 des Pins Ouest). In case you're wondering, that's not a little man walking under a strangely sloping tree that happens to be dripping on his head and casting a shadow to the east. In fact it's a warning that large, sodden piles of snow barbed with icicles may slide down the overhanging roof and onto your head... so don't walk this way. Creative!

Lastly, "Prudence! Ne prenez pas de chance" was at Métro Université de Montréal, if memory serves. I thought it was a funny and appropriate message... "it's better to be waiting for the next bus than for an ambulance"! Since in the past I'd seen people literally bowling over other passengers in their haste to reach the bus/subway platform, I've often wondered if the signs have had any effect.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...Shepherd's Warning (October 12, 2010)

7:20am today, on the way to the pool.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rem(a)inders (January 26, 2010)

More relating to my fascination with (in this case, spontaneous) public art: these pictures were taken during a bus ride up the West Coast of the South Island, at Bruce Bay.

They look like Inuksuks...

Below, one made from a ponga log with flax binding, echoing some strange creature dressed in elaborate jewelry:

I'm apparently not the only one who's wondered how this project began. It's quite a striking feature on the beach if you're driving along past it. I think I am even more fascinated because I love to build these kinds of objects myself--when I was a child, I loved making things out of sand, even hanging out in the sand pit at school with the boys, playing with my Playmobil trucks and digging little tunnels through which they could drive. If there was a stream nearby, I liked to paddle in and build a dam or a series of water-courses. And I also collected beach-objects, which is probably why I love these little sculptures so.

Fragile toi toi stalks are incorporated into the design above; and below, a gnarled piece of driftwood resembles a hand clutching at a white stone...

And here is a short video of the beach and stone sculptures, taken a month or so after I was there.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Street Corner Pre-Apocalypse (December 12, 2009)

I have a deep fondness for extreme lighting conditions. This bank of clouds was about to block out the late afternoon sun as I was on my way home from my TA position, for which I was working near this corner at Jane and Finch in Toronto.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The lives of furniture (January 2, 2008)

Visible but not explicit, requiring explanation,
A mystery extending beyond memory, these legends
Long considered not worth telling: the silence of objects,
Their mute encounters.
An evocation of small injustices
Abstract, delicate and beautiful
Like lacework with no discernible pattern.

Autumn (October 14, 2009)

Rerasons why Autumn is my favourite season in Canada: visiting Montréal at the right time of year pretty much sums it all up. This picture was a lovely moment, standing on the terrasse at sundown looking out over the city, the layered view with the bushel of turning leaves beneath the copper-roofed university buildings, the thicket of towered office buildings, and in the distance--a clear view to the horizon punctuated by other "mountains" (glacial formations). The image feels as crisp as the evening air at dusk.