Friday, August 7, 2015

Chicago and the Lake, 2015, 122 x 97 cms, mixed media construction on plywood

My current overhead view imagery evolved out of an interest in depicting panoramic city views of Montreal during my residency there at 9 Rue Villeneuve O. from 1989 to 1991.

The first overhead view, Terre des hommes was a large allegorical construction depicting Centre-Ville and the Expo Islands between 1967 and 1970. It was followed by Sur Montreal une nuite d’hivere, I expanded the theme later when I moved to Ottawa with Grey Halifax, 1992 and in 1994, to parallel my Ottawa Government Building series, The Way The Canal Worked in 1990.

For much of the mid-nineties I worked on an extended series of ship pictures linked to the popular history and culture of the Maritimes called Disaster Ships, which culminated with a show in 1998 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. By the late-nineties my subject streams evolved again after an artist in residence period at Struts Artist-Run, in Sackville, New Brunswick which led to the construction of four 20 meter panoramic train pictures that form the back bone of my Railway Lands series.

As Railway Lands expanded through the early 00’s, to include such subject streams as The Crow Gulch Train Disaster, Quebec City from the Ocean Limited at Levis, I always saw it in the Winter and Container Ships at Halifax 2000, I returned to the overhead views creating a new series based on both satellite and paper maps showing city street grids, water features, rail lines and airports from above. 

I describe my overhead views as a response to new modes of seeing things. To see the world from above is a relatively recent phenomenon. Tourist maps, first widely circulated in the age of cheap lithography functioned as visual locators, before that artistically imagined engraved aerial views presented dazzling spectacles of perspective and illimitable views of growth and progress even in the most squalid of cities. 

Today, Landsat surveillance gives two impressions, first, that everything can be seen and secondly that everything can be mapped. Whereas in the 19th Century the only sure boarder was a river, lake or seashore, in the 21st Century boarders extend upward into space.

While the overhead view pictures are ostensibly aesthetic objects, I believe they also work as temporal markers or pseudo-documents, in that they are located in time and reflect change that cannot really be described. Like actual maps they are both representational and abstract by necessity.

The Overhead Views to date:

Chicago and the Lake, 2015
Two Rivers at Matanzas, 2013
64 Points of the Railway Between Halifax and Montreal, 2013, Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Blue Tokyo, 2010, private collection (second version, first version destroyed)
New York River to Bank, 2008, private collection
The Colour of London is Red, 2007, private collection
The Winnipeg Airport in 2006 (2007), Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Dans le Coeur de Montreal, 2006, Art Bank
The Halifax Airport in 2004 (2005)
Halifax Peninsula and Railway Lands, 2004, Ottawa Art Gallery
Halifax Elevators and South End Rail Yards, 2003
The Ottawa Airport from a Satellite in Space, 1999, private collection,
The Way the Canal Worked in 1990 (1994), private collection
Gray Halifax, 1992, City of Ottawa
Sur Montreal une nuite d’hivere, 1990, private collection
Terre des hommes, 1989, private collection