Thresholds: The subject of my work is overlooked environments in the city – everyday spaces that are somewhat unfamiliar and marginally inhabited, but nevertheless imprinted with the “residue” of human presence. I am interested in re-framing and revealing the ‘invisible’, and in turn drawing attention to the act of looking and seeing. Since 1998, I have focused on the laneways around my downtown Toronto neighbourhood, using macroscopic photography to document surface fragments of this environment. This 5 year project was an investigation of a discrete and relatively hidden place in the city. My recent work, beginning in 2001, is concerned with spatial relationships, particularly relating to the figure in space and to the delineation of public and private spaces in the city.
Threshold is a series of 28 colour photographs that depict boundaries – walls, gates, doors, and fences – and the fragmented views glimpsed through gaps and holes in their surfaces. These images were shot from the public space of Toronto laneways looking into the private space of residential backyards.
In this work, I am interested in the way that the particularities of photography can draw attention to the act of looking and to the limitations of vision. Facilitated by photography, boundary and space are simultaneously rendered as a single surface. The foreground and background coalesce in a single flattened view that is part abstract colour field and part sharply focused scene, reducing the apparent separation between surface and space; outside and inside; public and private realms.
Shot with a macroscopic lens and then enlarged approximately 8x, the Threshold images reveal scenes that exist solely in photographic form and are invisible to the naked eye. Yet, at the same time they present what is depicted in a way that mimics human vision – we are not able to simultaneously see a sharply focused background and foreground. In this work, the camera clearly renders a concrete manifestation of farsightedness, where the foreground is blurred but apparent in its full spectral and textural glory, and the background is in sharp detailed focus.
Each work is presented like an object excised from reality – a piece of wall cut from its context along with the view that can be glimpsed through the aperture. I am also interested in the way the surface aperture evokes the camera by acting like a camera lens through which a scene is framed. Each uniquely shaped aperture frames and reveals a scene distinctly, intimately tying the scene to the host surface through its aperture.
The series itself is intended as a conceptual threshold that makes ambiguous the distinctions between real and representational, truth and fiction. The images present everyday scenes that are rendered at once unfamiliar and uncannily familiar, destabilizing our definitions of the abstract and the mimetic by taking us beyond our perceptual capabilities.