Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gone Hunting

(Girl Chewing on Bubblegum, by John Smith, 1976)

On a bench looking towards the giant field in Prospect Park you can see a diverse collection of people from all sorts of category interact and traverse across the scene.  One can really "people watch" here while taking note of the commonalities of the scene.  From the ethnicities to the social groups to class the greater the diversity the more complex the community becomes.  One time I was interested in gender role shifts from then to now as I observed how many men were carrying their babies over women.  Then to further divide this group I noted how they were carrying their babies; were they using a stroller or was the baby attached to their chest or even back.  By observing how well are we able to gain insight into an area and its inhabitants?  Does observation tell us what kind of people live in this neighborhood or area and how do we classify this area.
In the representation of the real, one must gain a significant insight into the real.  Between interview and conversational exchange to silently observing I hope to conduct my research into two modes: one of approach and intervention and the other removed from my subject.  To observe without interferes I hope to create a representation of the outsider and to further this sense of being removed and outside the aesthetic will be in the matter of a certain type of documentary style.  The other representation, that of the case study will present the voice of the individual by video documentary to portraits of the subjects looking contemplative, the ideal image of the true self.  By splitting the approach into two modes and documentary styles the question of which one represents the everyday with more truth; the observation without voice or the documentary film and constructed portraiture.

(Abandoned Shelter, New York, 2012)
(Hideaway, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

Gone Hunting is the first phase in which the construction of an urbanized hide will be used to observe the urban environment.  Camouflaged with the aesthetics of the makeshift urban shelter, one which is a product of found objects, the hide will be placed on the street corner for the course of a day as a video camera documents the street activity in its removed position.  The port where the camera will observe from when seen from the outside will be shadowy and dark with the camera's lens hidden.  The necessity of the hide's hiddenness is paramount as it is in the wild, to become invisible so that observation can be done without notice of the subjects being observed.  The power of the lens on the subject's consciousness is able to shift the natural character of the subject into an exhibitionist –one which is aware of self image, the representation, and of the echo of the image captured which posses an infinitude of circulation.  After this phase comes the second portion which is to approach the subject and to give them a voice which in turns changes the perception of them, from anonymous to having a name and a story.  Their poses are dictated by the moment and by the director of the photographer.  Their facial expression is dictated between direction to a moment caught in-between, the nature of the subject coming into the moment for a moment.  The expression which is capture is not one of which poses anything natural but one that is constructed in collaboration between the subject and the documentarian.  The exchange between the two parties creates the dynamic in the image, and through editing ultimately the author is the master of the representation.  But regardless of how the image is handled or controlled there between the lines is a fragmented representation of the real, just as the hidden camera captures, both approaches question representation of the real.  And when replicated in a staged setting with actors this representation is then questioned further as what we see is uncanny in its resemblance to the real.  In some cases, such as watching a hollywood film or viewing a staged photograph, through relation to the image and the ability to interpellate to the subject and the subject matter we are able to connect with what we see better than real footage of the everyday, the photograph of a stranger from the street.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Wall

(Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, "Retiring Zhora"scene, 1982)

There is a particular scene from Ridley Scott's cyberpunk classic, Blade Runner, where the background actor isn't a passive object of the environment but the thing that creates the tension of the scene as well as the frustration of the character of the narrative.  As the character, Dreckard is chasing after his target, Zhora, they leave the privacy of a club into heavily populated area in a futuristic Los Angeles.  The compression of space is apparent as Dreckard tries to penetrate the crowd in order to "retire" Zhora.  The function of the crowd is less individualistic as they form a volume which creates a wall, or even a maze for Dreckard and Zhora to traverse –which ultimately leds the viewer through the scene.  The mass is able to move, but their shear volume obscures Dreckard from being able to see Zhora, or even use his gun.  All throughout this scene, Dreckard struggles with the crowd and pushes and sometimes knocks over a total of 19 people.  Zhora uses the crowd to camouflage herself from being seen.  And in the context of this film, Zhora being a "replicant", an artificial life-form that replicates human nature and is questionably separated from humans, creates a motif that questions what it is to be human, but in this case study of background actors, her character and its attention to the viewer is obscured into the thickness of the kinetic background.  She disappears in the invisibility plane.
(Citizens of the night scene from Blade Runner, 1982)

The aesthetics of the background actors is representative of both the futuristic vision of the film as well as the multiculturalism of the location depicted.  There are signifiers of slums, with street people, along with monks of mixed race, punks, masked individuals, fur-coat bearing bourgeoisie, and other characters that defy category and the trolley which seems to unite them all as they move throughout this fictional landscape.  Even with this heighten-sense of multiculturalism and the individuals it can make, they all seem to blend in as exactly what they are as a mass and conform to the term, "multiculturalism".  They reach their broadest of terms of identification as being the sum of its parts, the whole or without, the mass of the many as this word comes into repetition.  The scene seems to create a gathering of all stereotypes of cyberpunk culture and its characterization, with mixtures of streampunk, bright colors, street punks, slum dwellers, the freaks and mutates, ridiculous and impractical clothing of futuristic fashion (which often "dates" a film in retrospect).  It is an overwhelming sight, with one group or individual replaced by another, after another in this high production and peak of Hollywood's studio system.  And in the spectacle this vision of the future creates the background character is heighten in the process.  There is a symbiotic relationship that the scene/environment has with its inhabitants as if they were once introduced to the environment and had gone through the process of adaptation and through radical transformation and mutation they become the forms in which the viewer sees.  The notion of being a product of the environment is brought into question and as human being one of the most influential creatures of this planet on its environment, is it fact the humans which occupy the space which dictate the environment or is it the environment that creates the conditions of the creature?  The urban environment is at the forefront of this discussion as it is the furthest removed from the natural environment and represents the epicenter of human influence on the landscape.  This model of the urban landscape creates the herd mentality, the diffusion of individuality when placed within volume.  The job entitlement of the background actor in an urban landscape is to be a member of the crowd, to blend into the background and to operate as a whole.  Where does roleplaying and their job mix and differ when they are arranged in volume as background actors being a crowd and taking on the role of being a crowd?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Questioning Invisibility

(Yohance, "The Student" - "The Rapper", 2012)

How does one represent the invisible.  Though photography and its ability to show or to hide; the there and the not there, is it able to illustrate invisibility without it being a void left to vastly open intepretation.  The ambiguous lack of subject in a photograph seems to subtract more then it adds, leaving behind a vacuum the viewer is used into or avoids.  I question my work with the veil, which functions to cover, mask, or hide but doesn't create invisibility rather it hides identity and creates objectivity, –the human becomes the humanoid.  How does the individual or a group of people when put forth as the subject of a photograph without being seen?  Perhaps it is in the very nature being the subject that they are seen as well as being within the frame of the still image that subjectivity is reinforced.  This leads me to the question, through my interest in the background actor, why should the subject be invisible when I am focused on portraying that which has been placed back into the recesses of attention?
By bringing the background actor to the foreground and making this work a focus on what is being repressed to the boondocks of our attention perhaps the issue of invisibility is resolved.  By asking following questions I enter this investigation in order to understand the background actor through personal interviews.  Who is the background actor, what is he or she portraying, and what does their portrayal represent?  Do their actions and their appearance reenforce a representation?  And what happens when their employment typecasts people into reoccurring characters, stereotypes.  When casting directors select people for background work they do not hold casting calls, or have them deliver lines but instead just use a photograph to project the role on to them.  In this effect, the photograph represents them, gives them employment, and gives them their role.  There is a relationship between the singular image, as subjective and out of context it is, to its subject.  The headshot holds a duolistic ability to serve as well as betray.  And the importance of the headshot is the same as a mugshot is used to identify a suspect, it is the materialization of the mental image, whether that be for a role, or in the case of the mugshot, of the appearance of the suspect to a victim's memory.  The subjective nature of photography both represents and misrepresents, and is an attempt at the real, that ever-changing thing of motion and multiplicity of imagery.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Remoteness and The Invisible Plane

I'm putting myself into a routine of writing about my work and I hope by the use of this blog to be an informal discussion of my thoughts, process, and research in order to coop with the demands of grad school.

Introducing The Masters Series.  I hope to not fail this series of writings.

Remoteness and The Invisible Plane

(Snapshot of "Nine Eleven, 2011" on a display screen, 2012)

Contemplating the photograph, one which is based out of a constructed practice of image-making and another based out of an obsession to document experience traveling through the world and the everyday.  How they relate to each other besides from being born out of the same author is that they are both seen as documents to me.  The snapshot comes out of an obsession to document my everyday in order to expand but also complete my memory (which in turn can never be complete since the camera is flawed in perspective, the decision to photograph, and that the still frame is always, inherently out of context (without a beginning or an ending and within a frame)).  The constructed image which is staged is an afterthought of a moment, or a collection of moments and is a contemplation of the significance of a particular memory, a feeling, and an idea.  Where the snapshot is flawed in its aesthetics of being rough, out-of-focus, motion blur, mixed light sources, on-camera flash, and perhaps not the right focal length, the constructed image which comes from after the moment has passed is perfected in how the moment appears as a memory.  The flaw of the constructed image is that it isn't the moment that it is referencing and therefore is not real.  The argument I propose here is that what is real?  Reality is subjective, especially in a world that is divided by a social construction of reality which is in conflict with personal reality, one which is born from biographical experience.
I start my collection of images with a morning scene in a living room and in the center of the frame is a television set.  It is large unlike the television sets of today and is more furniture than an illuminated wall-mounted painting, and has become a piece of the domestic landscape, having photos, VHS tapes, and ornaments on top of it.  The television has the image of a CNN broadcast of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings.  The room itself has a smoky atmosphere, dim with a bright world outside.  And though the photograph is completely staged it is as real as my memory of that moment is.  And since the moment has passed I cannot return to that morning of September 11, 2001, where I woke up for school, and my parents readily themselves for their day jobs as they watched the television.  Having just woke up there was a disorientating feeling when my parents tried to update me on what they had known from what they were given by the fanatic behavior of the broadcaster not knowing himself what had exactly happened other than the fact that one commercial airliner had
crashed into the financial epicenter of the nation.

(Nine Eleven, 2011)

The photograph of the staged living room with a television playing a pre-recorded image strikes the viewer with not a question of is this image real but recalls their own memory of that moment.  Even though it had been made ten years after reference point that image is still clear in the viewers mind, and what I claim to be as the clearest collective experience and image in recent memory.  And this is evident in the effect of the viewer when they see this image they are able to place themselves within the context of the image, recalling what they were doing that day and even how they felt.  This scene is not real, it is not the living room I had while I lived in Houston during the 9/11 attacks nor is it the viewers.  It is a generic representation of a collective experience.
An event seen through the camera's lens, then broadcast, and then seen through the television set we are perceiving an image out of context, through the frames of the camera, but ultimately through the ideology behind that broadcasting network.  Just as reality television differs from network to network, with TLC's obsession with abnormalities in our culture (ranging from conjoined twins, hoarding, large volume immediate families, and gypsies) to MTV's youth in conflict with reinforcement of stereotypes of college kids, Italian-American middle class youth, washed-out celebrities struggling with drug addiction and the public eye, these ideologies differ but are all part of multi-faceted ideology of a culture at whole.  Even though we are given the choice of view, from CNN's more liberal approach to Fox News' conservative view, both operate under the same system.  They are all representing reality within a specific cultural and regional ideology.  And this broadcast reality is not providing the lived experience but the simulation of it.  Through studying history we experience the Vietnam War as much as we experience youth drinking in a hot tub by the Jersey Shore or what it is to live in a house full of boxes and too many cats (some being lost or dead hidden away in some dark corner).  There is this remoteness that separates us from the moment's true experience to a controlled and simulated experience.  Cinema isn't far from this simulated experience of the real as it often depicts real events through a singular perspective.  Its heightening of the event is theatrical and relies on aesthetics, staging, and performance to create believability.  It places the viewer in a controlled environment of the cinema, a temple or cave-like setting that instructs the viewer to sit and to pay attention to the center piece, the silver screen in this case, and slowly dissolves the reality outside of the room for one which possess a flicker of motion and the omnipresence soundtrack.  And for two hours what is presented in front of our eyes is believed as a temporal reality, we start to interpellate ourselves into the characters and develop emotional connections as we start to "know" the characters, their scenarios, and the environments that surround them.

(Hoodlumz, 2012)

Rather than focusing on what is in focus, I would like to contemplate not the characters of the narrative but what is in the background.  The background actor's role is to be there, to camouflage itself to the background and to be commonly found object in the environment, such as trees in the forest.  In a sense they are a kinetic background like graffiti jumping from the walls and possessing life.  What they are meant to not possess is individuality, they are a mass of many, and are more caricature than character.  In the contemplation of the background actor being a walking, breathing, and living background is to observed and brought into the foreground, –they now hold our conscious attention.  Through observation they often create error to the simulated reality of cinema, as they are not necessarily trained professionals such as the main characters, but they are often real people there for volume and aesthetics.  Occasionally a background actor can be seen doing a cycling movement that repeats in a shot, or they accidental or purposely look into the lens which gives way to the existence of a camera as our viewing point.  And in some cases the background actors are real people that are untrained and are not volunteering to be background actors but are simply there in a real environment that is being used to represent one that is constructed.  It is in these cases that the control of the filmmaker is removed and there are elements of the real the conflict with the simulation through comparison.  The so-called, Fourth Wall, is breached and in these minor and often hidden nuances bring into question where the audience is.  It is a lucid experience but rather gaining control one realizes the lack of control over the narrative.

(James Woods as Max Renn amongst background actors portraying the homeless in Cronenberg's Videodrome, 1983)

In further contemplation of the background actor is questioning what they represent.  If they are appointed to be a mass of many and are not to have individuality such as the characters of the narrative then they are representations.  It is in their attention or rather their lack of attention that they fall back to a role, and this role being that of "type".  They are performing in the subconscious space of the film and are playing out roles based off of their appearance.  There isn't any introduction to the background actor and their character, they simply appear there in front of us on the screen, –the word, "front", does not define their position within the planes of existence in the film.  They are neither background as they are not affixed such as a wall of a building or a tree in a forest nor are they in same the plane as the characters of the narrative.  If they are neither back nor fore then where are they?
They exist in the simulacrum removed from reality and exist as a sort of transparent being in the cinematic reality.  Art directors in their pursuit to maintain the background actor in the background make them as real as possible, –the realer the less the contradiction is apparent to the viewer.  The word seamless is an ideal description of their aesthetics but being as this is film their actions also must be as real to the viewer and as convenient to the filmmaker as their aesthetics.  One could not imagine having to train individually each background actor to perform a specific role but rather an instruction via a megaphone addressing a mass or a second or third A.D. directing singular groups of background actors to perform a specific task.  These task ranging anywhere from walking across the scene, to appearing to be reading, or talking amongst themselves set in a cycle.  For example a background actor instructed to walk across the scene will perform this task identically for each take.  Or a group of background actors dancing in a circle and to no rhythm in particular.  The more real their everyday actions are the less apparent they become.  They existence on an invisible plane which is right before us but we dismiss them from our attention as the individual is lost to volume and the volume is lost to representation of a representation.  For what the background actor represents is a stereotype, a generality of a specific group of people.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

(The Bluffs Earlier This Summer, 2012)

Look at that fool, he's a goner.  He keeps on taking her photograph, saving each memory, year after year, touching her hand, saying soft things, making moments happen, even if they took many tries and a lot patience.  At it again, when will he learn.

I'm watching a moment pass me like the wind passes me with a cool breath.  And then it is leaves me and by the time it is gone I realize a wind had passed.  I watch it rustle against the trees ahead, I see it kick things up, I watch it destroy lives, make them, move someone high above and leave them stranded on the top of some great peak.  I've seen it do these things over and over and yet I drove in, sipping my feet into the rivers that no man can ever imagine taming.
I can't remember the last time I went swimming, I can't remember the feeling.  I wish it all lost meaning and I could leave it be.  I wanted it to stop but it never stopped bugging me, asking me, come out and play.  There's a knife behind your back I say, and it don't matter, I still go, I move forwards and I know it is a trap, and that's how foolish I be.  And all of a sudden-like, and out of the blue, and all of the foolish things I've done cannot be reversed, I know I am a grown man, I know I am above all of this, that time, experience, and understanding how I work moves me away from this, and yet, by golly there I am.  I don't know how it is done, I don't know why it always happens, captain, but there it be.  Once again, my friend, you got me.

And all the hot-damns and hot-dogs won't settle my soul, won't settle the feeling, that I wish I was born cold for, that I never felt, that pandora stayed shut.  Damn shut, bolted, and never even thought of.  It is beyond regret, it sure is, and sometimes, and sometimes it is better to not then to ever, and to shiver the past, and do it full and full ass, because half-ass don't cut the muster.  Now this time nor the next, and you can cut them out but you can't leave them.  They'll be your curse, and the cursed love to curse like anchors love to drag the ship to the bottom.

And now I learn how to disappear, and now I learn to walk the other way.  Sing it with me.  Aaaand Now I'hhhhhh l'ern how-woah to dissssapppppearrr, Aaaaand Now I'hhhhh l'ern ta walk thee ootthher wa-aayyyee.

I'm too old to run away so I'll leave it up to you.  You can after all and you will, and I'll still be here.  And when we say hello again, call me a stranger, call me nothing, and don't call at all.  From the sea of swollen to the pits of hells, the soft sounds of a man, and the woman's hand, memories and memoirs, a broken floor, and loose belt, the cat's dead, I mean, really the cat's dead, the other cats are chasing its ghost.
Don't leave this place with a smile nor a frown, just leave.  (Slams door, the window cracks, and the little miniature cars fall from the shelf and on to the carpet.)  I go to pick up the pieces and see I'm wearing no pants, and look up again and see that no one's home.  I close my eyes and imagine

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Death In The City

Tonight is the Pilot X launch as well as exhibition of a fantastic group of artists who all came together to create work about, "Death In The City" –a projected started by Amanda Nedham.

This is a group of some of my favorite artists and it fills my heart with great joy to be exhibiting with them all in one gallery and including one publication.

Tonight at LE Gallery (1183 Dundas St. W) from 7-11pm the show opens and will continue until September 1st.

Alex McLeod
Amanda Nedham
Braden Labonte
Brendan George Ko
Dan Rocca
Derek Liddington
Jamiyla Lowe
Jennie Suddick
Julia Martin
Lisa Neighbour
Luke Painter
Luke Siemens
Tristram Lansdowne

with writing by:
Amanda Nedham
Dipika Mukherjee
Edward Brown
Julia Martin
Kathleen MacFarlane
Kris Bertin
Lee Sheppard

Friday, August 10, 2012


(Nine Eleven from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2011)

My dearest friend of wonderful talent curated a group show of some of the hottest young artists in Toronto and it all goes down tonight and continues for a week or so...




Thursday, July 12, 2012


Now available are the two last images to The Barking Wall.  Sizes may vary, but the images are all scary...

Friday, July 6, 2012

The War on Chill pt.1

(Vampiric Empire, We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

I would like to say that we stopped something bad from happening but the truth is our eyes were bigger than our stomach.  Amen to that.

In a scene straight from Dante's Inferno the world came crashing down.  In a hazy display of twisted metal, smoke, and ashes and that contrast of gray and unorganic against a deep red of blood the message was all too clear.  It hurt the ears to hear, it hurt the eyes to see, and we were all blinded, each and every one of us.  Blind.
Before we rebuilt everything we decided to wait.  Enemies were nothing, friends were nothing, what you owed this feller was nothing and what that feller owed you was nothing too.  Everything was nothing.  The borders were gone, the cities as well, just rock and rumble and shattered wood and bleeding ears.  It was in all that chaos we realized we were all one, that whatever the hell just happened, had been happening, and led to all of this (points to a smoldering mess of humanity) was keeping us away from ever knowing that.  That we were always together without words, without status, before language and just a moment before eye contact, we were together.  What ever made us not, what ever made us once and no longer?
In that time after the war there was a lot of hugging, holding each other's hand and love making.  Barely anyone spoke in those days, and where you had one person you had another, almost blind to language, religion, color of skin, or sexual preference.  They were just getting along with each other.  So much so that each other was just each, and so each and each was now just one.  We were one.
It would be another few years before we started talking again and when we did we more or less barked, stared for a long time, and barked some more.  The barks varied in ways of an actor changing their voice in accent, tone, intensity from role to role.  Whoever knew a bark could whisper.  And what was all said and agreed upon was that we needed to all chill out.  Yes, chill out.  Chilllllll Out.  Somewhere down the line we forgot all about this.  We got too wrapped around our concepts and our "status" that we forgot what really mattered.  We got so worked up about it all and started to see nothing but superficiality that we lost ourselves and fed into our rage, blindly, and would get sick from hatred as it stewed away deep within over many many years.  Eventually it became us.  We moved out of the forest, into the fields and farmed.  We started to work the land harder and started collecting excess for the long winters.  And when we realized we had more than we needed we sold it to those who were having a bad year at the crops.  Farms turned to towns, towns into cities, and eventually it wasn't food that we were trading but uselessly metals and sections of land as if we could sell what was already there.  Eventually the concept grew deeper and further abstract until we were trading notes and those notes turned into numbers and those numbers only existed in our imagination.  We'd fight for ridiculous things, for land, for commodity, we even killed for it, and we grew more powerful, but what power was it?
That scene from hell, that place we made for the part of us that wanted to see it all burn, for the devil in destruction to be realized and to want to do the opposite of good.  When there was good and evil, when did we started to divide the land into shapes burned by war and blood?  When did we start to believe we were so far from this place that we had come from somewhere else.  We built pyramids and rested on top of them and looked down to the world from high above.  We were reaching the skies, and so we studied them hard and long.  We'd scare each other by speaking of evil, of the end of times, and of how to behave or else...  We wore masks and pretended to be something we weren't.  And if you were to ask us what exactly we were doing and why we couldn't tell you it was because we were distracted by something bright and far away, warm, and dancing in the moon-filled sky.  It was something absolutely beautiful and abstract.  It gave us hope and we longed for it, scratching away at it everyday to come closer.  Closer and closer.  And some of us would reach so far only to fall and be tramped by those who kept their balances well.  Some of us even reached it only to discover it had been realized and that you had spent your entire life trying to obtain this, to have gained this, but that it was better off being un-obtained, free, wild, and without words or touch.  To be left in our imaginations.  For those who have reached their dreams did the fire not burn?  Did the core of its energy not hurt to touch?  And did you not try to steal it for yourself and keep it away from everyone else?  Perhaps it was too much, and that there is no one to blame but what burns in our flames.
All we ever wanted was some peace on earth.  Why did the bear eat my brother, why did the eagle steal my eye, and why did death take my parents away?  Why am I so afraid that I am trembling now?  Why are we so afraid of death that it is diseased?  And that we are we so afraid to let go that we hold on so tight that we either destroy the very thing we are holding or it destroys us?  The deep soil of the earth is dark and moist and full of life, it is the same as our blood, and it turns life in this world.  It was here before me and it will be here after.  And I can be burned, buried, or sink to the bottom of the sea and I will return to nothing from which I came, nothing.
The child said to the mother and father, "what is all of this?"  The mother to the child, the father to the child looked at each other and looked back to the child and said nothing they believed in and then said, "what does it look like from down there?".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We Get High Tonight

(Outer Body Experience, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

The call came from all around.  It was dark out with barely a blue cast to the sky and silhouettes of the trees.  Our breath was smokey and all I could do was remember the act of acting like one were smoking when their warm exhaled air met the cold air of the outside world.  It sounded like a howl, perhaps from an animal perhaps from a human, either or it was wild and that's about all that mattered.
We called it, him, her, the thing, the Shotcallah.  His face was of fur and his eyes beamed outwards like a light tower does in a dark and stormy seascape.  His teeth were yellow like years of smoking and his breath and body odor were surprisingly tame.  When we brought Shotcallah out and about he would attracted all the attention, from all walks of society, and he would provide.  Hooting and hollering, howl and hiss, he tore the clothes that looked wrong on him off and ran around with his hairiness.  And somewhere in all those chaotic moments of wild versus the unwild was whether or not he was a he or if he was a she we stared and waited at its crotch for its garbage to show itself from out of the wild bush.
Never did we find out, and eventually we stopped wondering and let Shotcallah be simply and rightfully, Shotcallah.  Of no gender, race, or housey home.  And that was that.

To be wild and yet to be tamed.

When I came from my home country to here I had a set of rules that I lived by.  I would behave a certain way and saw the world a certain way.  Those have surely changed.  Back in the motherland I'd sit in the backseat of the car and watch the city at night.  The lights falling on the contours of the car's reflective paint job and all was quiet but the radio that faintly played in the background.  I remember the illuminated fastfood sign, and the warmth of fried food sitting and waiting to be tore at.  I felt at peace and realized in that moment, one of those moments that I had a gift.  That gift was perspective and it gave me insight into the world outside of my normal eternal situation.  I would constantly try to externalize myself with others.  I would imagine life through their eyes and become them.  I'd learn their history and try to piece them together.  When I was with them I'd see myself through their eyes and think of how I sounded, how I looked, was I saying the right things with the right tone?  Who were they at the time I was talking while I was trying to figuring out who I was?  When drunk the sober half stayed and held me up and listened to my voice, my words, my tone as I spoke to others, or how I behaved while purchasing a burger and fries with two tacos.  I was listen to that kid and watch over him as he fell asleep.  When he was high I'd be there as well, I'd make sure he remembered every eureka thought and made sure he wrote down everything.  I was there when he was about to make bad decisions.  I was always there, as two, we were together, always.

I never got to do Peyote while I lived in the desert, nor did I do acid that one time.  I never was arrested nor did I ever really get caught (only assumed and looked at with stern eyes knowing, he did it, he really DID do it).  But all the horseplay is done and I have moved many times since and have met so many people, been to so many places, and have experiences a grander sense of being since.  One day I can wake up as a thirteen year old boy and realized that the past thirteen years of my life were all a trip.  That my coming to age and coming to AGE were a cheap gimmick to storytelling.  But forget all that and let's mediate on it.  Imagine waking up and realizing that that ordinary life you were living was just one long short trip?  It makes it extraordinary, it makes it fantastic, and bleeding in meaning.  And why can't it be.

I have never stopped throwing my eyeballs at things and seeing the world at a different angle.  Nor has the guardian angel of self projecting self stopped watching over me.  I barely know you and yet we are no longer strangers.  And perhaps we were never ever ever strangers, that we had met before, and not in another life time but this: we have met each other through the people we have known and experienced, we know life as life and from the very example of our own life that we are in tuned with it -as it flows through our body and is all we are.  Life.  Can't you see your life in a riverbed?  Can't you see it in the wind as it shakes up the branches and the leaves struggle to hold on?  Can't see it in the weeping of weeping willow, the striking hawk, the roar of a lion, and the blood of an elk?  When wine is blood and bread is flesh, when a circle is the soul, a circle is a bond, and a circle is the world.  When we are wild and at peace because we were never unwild nor tame.  When we step out of our tempurpedic beds and realize what is on the surface and what is deep within, so deep it is lost in flesh!

That which you realize, THAT which you are, is exactly that, you and are, in being, as just that, you are looking somewhere else but what is inside is all that matters.  When it all comes back and you realize you were always looking at yourself as you looked out to see yourself.  Like a pat on the back, like a kneeling friend to help you back to your feet, that hand that holds the door open, those hands that cut your steak up and feed you, even when you are too old to be fed.  That was you, silly.  Be good to yourself.

And so Shotcallah yelled out at the night, smiled, peed himself, and smiled some more and waved his big furry arm as his body became another shadow to the moon.  The trees rustled with the wind, the song in my heart sang, and I was feeling pretty good.  Warm from the liquor and drunk from life we all retired in the cabin next to the woods.  The end.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Devil Within

(Hoodlumz, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

I remember the devil appearing on the television in the form of a program on possession.  I grew up fearing The Exorcist but somewhere in my child mind I knew it wasn't real, the fear it produced was real but what was before me was just an illuminated imagination not to be taken literally.  It was the devil in that Discovery Channel program about cases of possession that hit me with a reality being realized.  One after another each case taking twenty of so minutes was filled with accounts from those who experienced it first hand.  There were parents, siblings, priests, and even psychologists, and then finally the formally possessed talking about the experience.  Something hit home to me, I remember being at someone else's house, just beside the church my mother would take us to, and that the room, the house, the night were all set in a type of darkness that transcends the absence of light.  It was an eerie and if I may, "evil" night.  I remember this experience proceeding my confirmation.  I never shared with my family my fears of being possessed by demons or how it seems to replace my fear of being abducted by aliens.  And as an adult now I see it as the birth of "evil", or rather, the supernatural that struggles to be defined within logic and reason and that ancient fear of the unknown.
Before this first account of evil I was a wild child.  Where once was church going and lighting fires down the creek was alcohol drinking, marijuana smoking, paint spraying, and skate of a skateboarding with no rules nor curfews.  We stayed up all night, skateboarding across the city, in a landscape consumed by amber glow and shadows and the starry sky above.  Of dark alleyways where drunks drink and chuckle away and the seas of empty beer and liquor bottles, to which we would smash until our hands and arms bled, there were no laws in that child I call my past self.  I was also godless and without care.  And somehow I was still responsible and knew my limit and also was well aware of the things I was doing and how they were not right.  I remember accompanying my best friend on ambushing his neighbor and helping that friend beat that neighbor up.  That kid was an annoying little twerp that had a face that called to be punched and slammed, but had he done anything to me?  I don't remember which one I did, if I was kicking or punching, nor how hard I hit nor really why I did so.  All I remember is reaching a threshold and beyond and how after that first punch or kick was made I felt a deep sense of shame and regret.  I was drowning in shame and yet I carried on, perhaps shame fed the flames of my blind rage.  That neighborhood twerp was a symbol of the weakness that was reminiscent of my own.  And eventually we stopped and when we stopped we heard the seriousness of our crimes against this kid, he was crying, groaning in a whine that only comes from the most pathetic moments as he yelled at us.  I can still hear that voice, I've heard it in others before and it pierces me as it pierces the ears and makes me realize that we do not understand each other.  This is why we fight.  This is why we throw punches at each other and why we kick each other down.
I remember the shame of losing the last fight I had in New Mexico back in 1998.  It was against a shorter and smaller kid than myself and why we were fighting escapes me.  Some differences.  I remember it was the end of the day and there was enough shit spoken behind our backs about each other that this moment just had to happen.  I remember that burning feeling of my body transforming into rage and readiness to fight and I remember him walking towards me.  I remember the place: the back entrance to the school that was before a hill and the portables were behind us and the school buses on top of the hill.  I remember every punch I swung at him missed as he dodged them, and I remember all of his landing and the sharp feeling of pain and the sound static.  I remember getting so frustrated that I couldn't hit him that I started throwing dirt balls at him.  At the end we were both covered in dirt and pulled away to the principal's office.  And we were both fine, waiting in those steep chairs of shame somewhat relieved.  We finally realized we had something in common.  We were called into the office and talked to the principal one-on-one and were given a one day expulsion.  When we returned we were both in line for lunch and we shook hands.  I remember it feeling so good to come out of that rage and hatred to be at peace with what was once my enemy.  And to this day I feel lucky to have gotten in that fight, to have gotten in all the fights I have ever gotten in because it made me the peaceful person I am today.
I learned gospels from the bible and made an X cross, that of St. Andrews, on a wax ring which was later crafted into a silver ring.  I was confirmed at thirteen and rediscovered God.  I remember things happening by chance and how it just happen that I was being confirmed when I realized God on my own for the first time.  There was a chapter that was turned and I had an event to place that feeling with.  It was a transformation, and I had become something else and how if I am able to be transformed now I will be transformed again later, and so on and so forth.  The chapters keep turning and that I shouldn't be afraid of the devil or being possessed, nor should I fight "thine" neighbor or my buddy's neighbor, even if he had a whiny little voice, none of that shit matters.
In the age now I am starting to realize the god within me, within you, within everything, and to learn how to respect everything, to not see evil nor bad but just is.  I am trying to discover peace, I am trying to learn how to nourish myself in life, and through my suffering comes enlightenment.  I am not there yet.  But I am reaching towards it and in my fingertips is warmth of illumination.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fan Mail

(Somewhere off Route 66 / Somewhere in New Mexico, from Nathan Cyprys, 2012)

Today I received a very unique piece of mail in the form of a Fuji Instax instant photo.  The photograph was taken by Nathan Cyprys of the Nathan Cyprys fame from his recent journey through the true God's country, America.

When I close my eyes I can see him, shirtless and proud, his girl, Layla, close by perhaps holding a film magazine, perhaps sipping a can of soda and silently admiring the high desert in its enchanting scope.  When I open my eyes I see an old familiar of a landscape, of hills pokey-dotted with shrubs and sage bush, of rushed old fencing, of buck-shot pitted roadsigns, and some of the most gorgeous skies a lad and a lass can ever see in a lifetime.

Thanks for the memories, N-dawg and L-cat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Learning To Love Yourself (more) pt. 23

Be good to yourself.

Be good to yourself.

And the world just sort of slips away and is replaced by nothing.  A dark space, the body is floating and there is nothing all around.  Slowly the stars come into view and you realize where you are.  Floating, drifting through the matter of time and space before it is set to a field of limit.  

In this space that isn't space but just is you tell yourself, 

what is good?

No answer comes only a feeling to be mediated on.  Where bad is bad, dropping below zero and holding a negative value to the holder and causer of such things you have good, this thing you are reaching for.  But rather than reaching for it with your mental arms what if you transform those arms into good, what if you transform yourself into good.  You are breathing in good and breathing out good.  A flash hits you, nothing could be this good, you think of too much ice cream and apple pie, you think of something too sweet that turns your stomach a sour and how it hurts coming out.  That was too good for my stomach.  But you are mistaken, that is an artificial kind of good, what we are talking about right now is a good that transcends the value of positive, better, sweet, and even beautiful, it just is.  Letting yourself stop thinking and breathe deep and deeper you feel something.  Before you realize what it is, you bring a thought that brings the definition, the label on such a feeling, stop yourself, hold on to this ambiguous feeling, it is rushing through your body and mind and what it is matters not just letting it be.  And in this, we are being, be good.  Be good.  Repeat, be good.  Breath deep now, exhale, be good.  And let the world fade to darkness.  

What is being good?  What is that feeling you get when you do something good to others?  Who are you when you are good?  Do you like yourself, do you feel content, do you feel stronger, truer, and beautiful? Let's push aside our demons, let's not fight them, but make peace with them, be good to them, and realize they aren't demons after all, in fact they are ANGELS, yes, angels with horny heads and fiery red flesh, and eyes that pierce the soul.  They are angels.  And they will fly away, say good bye, and then close your eyes.  You realize the room around you, you realize you are not alone, and you can't remember who is in there with you.  Can you trust these people, how many were there again (idontknow)?  You tell yourself not to fear them.  You hear one get up and what sounds like him or her move closer to you before sitting down again.  Another shuttle and even a cough.  The cough has no gender and you wonder, who is there?  Your eyes are still closed and almost shut, you can open them whenever you're ready but you aren't yet (you haven't found what you are looking for).  And what is it you are looking for?  Answers?  To what questions?  

What if all the answers are within you?  What is you already know and that you have to train your mind and heart to believe that which you feel is true.  To push aside the EGO and the voice of others to hear your own, the own that has been buried from the debris of life.  Try hard to find this voice, this feeling, this piercing feeling without a face.  It may happen just now or over years, but never give up for it is very much there.  Try hard to fight the sadness the doubt the fear for they are as real as the day that only fades away into darkness and that is replaced the very next day.  Try to remember that they are superficial and hold no truths about you.  

If the universe is within us, then the answers we ask for or question not are in us as well.  Look for the crack.  And exploit it when you find it.  And once you've done that keep it to yourself, but spread the good either way.  Make someone's day, week, month, year, and after that, make their life.  Help them remember.  And help them never to forget ever ever ever ever ever again.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fantastic Marriage @ The Drake

Currently up at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W) is an installation of mine entitled, Fantastic Marriage.  It is part of an exhibition called, In The Corner of My Eye, curated by Mia Nielson, with work by Jeremy Jansen, Nadia Belerique, Letha Wilson, Matthew Craven, and Maria Aparicio Puentes.  The exhibitions runs until June 18th, 2012.  For more info, click here. Thanks to a certain Faye Mullen it got done in time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Photopia @G44

I have work in this year's Photopia at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond St), it is a wee sized editioned print, 12x12 and 12 available.  The opening is tonight, April 26th, from 6pm - 10pm and the exhibit will be running until the 28th.  For more info, click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Learning To Love Yourself (More) pt. 22

THERE IS NOTHING MORE TRUE THAN THE WELL-AWARE SENSE OF YOUR GUTS.  By guts I mean heart and by heart I mean intuition and by intuition I mean your soul.

There is something that seems to cloud my awareness of this and I'm pretty sure it is ego and assumption.  There isn't a feeling in those cases I think, "I don't know if I'll ever like this person, they smell, they speak too loud, and they say rather unintelligent things that lack any humor to them."  And then we're friends, drinking beers, howling to the moon, and I realized I was soooooo wrong.  I don't blame myself for thinking this way, nor do I see it as bad, we all have assumptions, and like assholes, they all stink (not really).  What I am trying to really get at here is that assumption, these decisions made by the ego, etcetera are never very strong, you never touch that burning feeling.  That feeling, "Yeah, maybe I shouldn't get involved with this or that thing or person because I KNOW, deep down inside of me, that it won't work."  And yes, you can be seen as a coward for never trying, but fuck those people who think that, dem yo guts, not theirs.  Roll with it homie.

(I didn't mean to make this a self-help article)

I often write when there is a surge of overwhelming thought and emotions, I can try to force words on the off-season but they end up as drafts never to be published or things kinda like this, that don't go anywhere.  So in that case, I often write when I'm either really sad for some reason or that I'm happy, seeing someone, or something (I see trees from time to time).  If my heart is into that something then I'll write, I can't help it, for what I have inside is something too complex too grand for a few shared words, I need to attempt at a novel, get it all out, and document it through words that hover between fiction and experience, but all true.  When there aren't words flowing out of me but that something is there, with me, I try hard to write, I try hard to make it work, and ultimately, Guts.  Yeah man, guts.  The coin has been flipped, it has landed on the palm and flipped to the wrist, and the palm lefts and reveal the coin's facing side, and yet I struggle to create emotion, feeling, and attachment just as one were to force that coin that has already fallen to flip over to the other side.  I should start saying goodbye to these somethings by saying, "See you on the flip-side".  Those somethings will say back, "What?", "Where are you going?", "Why are you smiling, aren't you sad that things didn't work out."  And I'll say, "Nah-nah-nah likeitwaspartofacatchysong, I'll be quuuuuuuuuite fine", as I wave with my hand behind me, with that something behind me, with my past which will forever be dead behind me.  A grand Smellyalater and tah-tah.   My guts, man, like a man polishing his favorite gun in his man shack late at night while his wife and kids are asleep, I look to my guts and go, "We should had some fun over the years, what would we do without each other?".  With me and the married man as the holder, the taker on these adventures, and the gun, the guts, being the trusty device that pulled through, worked every time, youbetyourass, and thus the relationship grew blood, the two being one.  

How well do you know your gut?  How well can you separate the static of the mind and false assumption from that piercing feeling of, "yaiknow", "iknowalright", and "ihaveneverfeltsososorightaboutit"?  

Are you training your gut, working it out, studying it, and seeing how it reacts when life throws some variables?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BIG THANKS to Matt from Xeroxr for this interview.  We started a little more than a year ago and carried on a dialogue over the course of the year.  HERE is what results.  Click Here, HERE, or HERE.

Read about how cheesy I am, how I set out to create work without identity but ending up creating an identity like whoopsy daisy, nightmares of cutting off my fingers, the end of The Barking Wall, and more more more!

Ahhhh spagett!

Pockets Full of Sand

When times change.  When times are changing.  A'changing.

I can could hear the sound of my own thinking.  I was a pit of sorrow and telling myself it really was fine.  The sand slowly shifted towards me and where it gathered it started to swallow me whole.  It felt like the accumulation of every day I spent at the beach in my underwear.  My legs no longer visible had no feeling and it was a strange and uncanny disposition to be both legless and feeling fine about it.  And in a calm and relaxed matter I accepted the fact my legs had left me.  The sand sheets were falling one after another and I did not try struggle, nor panic, nor fear, or have feeling at all.  Each grain was washing me away.  All I could think of is the cyan glow and darkness of night fall on a rainy day.  The atmosphere inside a car, the tapping sound then followed by a distorted view as the raindrops fell against the window.  The wind blowing them aside.  The trees swaying to the wind.  The swoosh sound of tires on water asphalt.  The beams of headlight piercing the darkness.  The feeling of the day ending.  Of leaving the beach after a long day of sun, waves, and fun.  That glowing conclusion, that ocean turning inside of you.  That wonderful feeling that adventure gives birth to.  We had gone to that beach a hundred times and yet here like always that feeling, damn, what a great feeling.  The salt of the sea and damp hair, my pockets full of sand, that sounds like a pop song, "My Pockets Full of Sand".

In your arms tonight (whoa-whoa-whoa).

How long has it been since I allowed my hands their curiosity?  When have I let my legs wrap around and hold.  When was the last time it felt right to evade the boundaries of another without the feeling of evasion.  Philm covered flesh, the thinnest and cleanest of separations, from one property to another.  From me to you.

(stop this before it gets too corny, too rosy, and it becomes an excerpt from a romance novel)

I remember the feeling of powerlessness.  I remember feeling foolish being there, and how that feeling, that grand sense of the fool wasn't out of place, nor had it suddenly appeared like whoa.  That feeling has always been there, hidden, forgotten, pushed aside, and sank into the subconsciousness.  Something Freud would said before talking about my mother.  I remember looking up and seeing a distance too far but yet I could reach.  I remember the feeling of a vibrating pocket, of talking about Zen, about being a romantic or a classical thinker as I walked away from that site.  I remember seeing where you were, in a grassy field somewhere in the Hampton's, surrounded by exquisite foods and drunk journalists.  I remember the parking lot with your bus waiting for all the passengers to return.  You finding a spot to talk, to call me or was it I who called you?  I remember how shitty I felt and how you made me laugh.  And I remember most at how much I learned not to care, not to try and hold on to something too hot to handle, too wild to be tamed, and too far to reach.  You may have never held my hand and pushed me in that direction, but you made me realized something I learned not too long ago: to step back from the edge of one world to the next, and to be my own, to see the world, and know it is a clockwork with gears able to grind your fingers off and you may try your hardest to turn those gears the opposite direction, to hold on dearly, for your life, for love, but it will never fucking happen.  When a heavy object is set into motion, such as a train, or a rolling boulder, they have too much force pushing them forwards that they cannot stop immediately, and if they were to stop on a dime their world would be destroyed.  Going down a steep hill on my bike I saw a taxi cab decide to do a left turn in front of me, I braked hard, that motherfucker, I was going 50kph easy and fear struck my body with the vision of my front wheel hitting the side of that impatient cabby the rest of the bike with me included pivoting from that point and my back lifting to the air, my hair floating upwards, the air being knocked out of my lungs, rising higher and higher and being thrown off my bike and over the car and my hands reaching out in front of me, my legs bashing against my saddle, the side of the car, the hood, the window and clearing the car entirely.  My body will float and I will fly for just a moment.  I will feel zero g only to be crushed like a can against asphalt.  I will be destroyed by the law of gravity.  That harsh harsh harsh thing right now.  And the flow of life will return again, with me breathing heavily, in a ball of blood and broken bones, disoriented and awakening from a dream that isn't a dream.  We need to fall in order to become strong enough to prevent it from happening again.  And when we get soft we fall.

That was the beginning of probably the funnest summers I have ever had.  I lost close to 15lbs from just laughing, hard.  With spring in the air, those ANGRY BIRDS chirping away and being glad to be back, the cherries in blossom, and my goddamn nose and eyes in allergy hell, I am ready for the sequel to last summer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Build You Up (i will crush you down)

(Merlin's Magic, 2012)

God only made one of me.

Some brilliant flash in the sky.  Some thunderous roar that you never heard outside of a Transformers' movie hits your face and squeezes into your ears.  YOUR HEART IS RACING.  You need to go to the bathroom but you can't get up.  You are glued to your seat.  You can see from where you are standing that the sky is turning all sorts of crazy colors.  You're thinking, "Holy Shit".  Exactly.  Holy Shit indeed.

When the planets aline and Also Sprach Zarathustra is playing and those drums are a'beating, your chair becomes the front row the grandest of shit shows, what will you have then, in that exact moment?  In a non-preacher-like way, what then, what about all of this (holds life, memory, history, and every experience you have gone through in my hands and hovers it before you).  When all can be erased in a crazy flash in the sky and thunderous roars of instantaneous death, what then.  I guess nothing really, everything that you knew is gone.  But it is the fact that we are still here, that we survived it that we are able to really get our brains and hearts going, thinking, feeling, what we have right now.  And what do we have?

The kid who raps to himself.

I'm living in a haunted house.  I am living in a haunted house.  I have lived in a haunted house, and I am still living in a haunted house.  Wow.  This is frightening and fascinating all at the same time.  I race around my room, I am fourteen in this vision and I am wearing plain white socks for the first time in my life.  I'm going to a party tonight, my last one in this town.  My father and I had spent the past three days packing the house and I can go out tonight (not that I wasn't allowed, my folks were very easy-going and trustworthy).  My sister's friend picks me up, her car is a coup so someone has to get out and pull their seat back and I enter, clearing a way for my feet in all the fast food packaging and bottles on the floor.  I sink into the seat and we take off into what I would now call, "The Hood".

For some reason there are huge blanks in my memory, and I can remember the feeling, which was good, I could remember drinking and seeing my older friends.  Everyone is doing unique handshakes, from this crew to this gang, and they're teaching me them.  I'm wearing my big orange vest I called, My DJ Vest.  I have a small notebook in my back pocket full of poems and tags.  I have spiked hair and buzzed sides, I was somewhere between nu-metal and hip-hop, and I skateboarded.  I got along with the people at the party.  I drank their 40oz, and we talked poetry, about making your initials mean something.

They got to mean something.  Take your time, you won't get it the first time but when you find it you'll remember it your whole life, it's your name after all.

BGK = Beginning Great Kills.  Twelve years later what does that mean?  I'm an artist these days, I've done alright, and I've done a lot and I'm always working.  I manage to slip under the radar for sometime and now it seems like people are catching my name.  It is BGK.  What does that meaning still hold?  It's strange I still remember that man's words, and my own "definition".  I know beginning great doesn't work for me, that I have to work up to it or else if I get it then I feel lost, like I cheated, and that I don't deserve it.  And that applies to just about everything.  Nothing easy.  Damn, I wish I had a "S" in my initials.  Struggle, struggle is everything.  I should've been named, Snake, and just Snake so that my initials are just, S.  They'd call me the Struggling Snake, they'll laugh, I'll get back up and try again, keep on working at it, dancing dancing dancing until I get it.  I am on fire with passion.  No water can put me out.  I am the oil to the watery world.  And I am struggling to hold on, to you, to this world, and everything in-between.  But when I have you, when I have this world, I will feel like I earned it.  You can bet your ass I will.  (And it will be good).

I hear a few of them freestyling.  They're battling.  There's a lot of, "Ooooooo" coming from the crowd circling around them.  They're saying some funny ass shit.  "Your motha....DES NUTS....When you're dead...bury you....just another....I'll build you up only to crush you down."  They were at it for an hour and afterwards they shook hands and laughed.  All that aggression out, they were best friends and they just rapped about personal and real things mixed with fictitious things about their relationship to each other, what gets to them, what bothers them about the other.  It was spoken with volume and wasn't threatening but poetry.  My sister's friend found me and put me in the car.  We were leaving.  Goodbyes, unique handshakes, and I'll-Probably-Never-See-You-Agains thrown around.  In the ride back I remember looking out from the window and seeing Gallup, NM illuminated at night.  A sea of amber lights floating over the hills and street lights coming closer and moving pass me until disappearing and being replaced by an approaching street light.  I remember the fury of words that came flowing out, in my first freestyle in my head.  I was alone and surrounded by drunk kids.  I was leaving this place for good.  And I knew I was going to really miss it.

Tell me more ghost stories.

Saturday, March 31, 2012




Friday, March 30, 2012


The time is nigh.

For the first time ever I'll be flying solo, Angell Gallery is presenting my first solo exhibition this Saturday, March 31st.  The exhibition is a collection of three years of my investigation into atmospheres which first started with Nocturne (2009 - 2010), followed by The Barking Wall (2010 - 2012) (which makes up the bulk of the exhibition), and most recently, We Soon Be Nigh! (2011- ).  There will be a total of eight pieces with one being an installation piece that will be particularly special for the opening...

The exhibition is entitled, Atmospheres, which sounds unoriginal but all too fitting because that is what it is allllll about.  The opening reception is March 31st 1-4pm at Angell Gallery (12 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON) and the exhibition runs until April 28th.  For more info, click here.

I'd like to thank Qian Ma for his insight statement for the exhibition (below).

Dreams, imaginations and memories from long ago. What they have in common is that, while they are all so very visual in their presentation, we can't actually see them with our eyes. They are merely formless mental sensations, synapses firing in our brains. However, that's not to say we can't actually "see" them. In fact, sometimes we probably see them better than anything that's in front of our eyes. What we "see" without our eyes is consciousness in its rawest state, stripped of layers of distractions and no longer needing interpretations. Fear, joy, anger, hope and love—emotions are often not seen by eyes. 

Sometimes, the lines become blurry—you see something so clearly and vividly, for so long, that you no longer know if it was once real, if you've actually seen it or if you just wished it were real. You never quite know what will trigger something to appear in your head—a gleaming ray of light that catches your eye, a sudden scent that surrounds you, the feel of the air at a certain temperature and density on your skin, tunes that pour out of a car that sits idle at an intersection... In his series Atmospheres, which consists of three bodies of work (Nocturne, The Barking Wall and We Soon Be Nigh), Brendan George Ko sets out to document and research in the realm of consciousness, memories and imagery.

From The Barking Wall's possessed eeriness, to the mystery of Nocturne, to the doom that looms in We Soon Be Nigh, the notion of fear, of being afraid and haunted, is present throughout Atmospheres. When you are a little kid, your biggest fear is the bogeyman. As you get older, you are afraid of more real things, something that can actually hurt you. When you grow up and turn into an adult, your worst fear becomes less immediate, it becomes a deep, profound concern or worry of some sort. This progression of fear is reflected in Atmospheres, which, though not a trilogy, mirrors the progression of Brendan's own consciousness. Brendan's fascination, and to some extent, obsession with dreams and memories has more to do with being connected to his emotions than nostalgia. His desire to dig into and then reproduce the imagery in his head is an admirable attempt to turn the intangible into tangible, and beyond that, to examination and analyze his own unrealized spiritual and intellectual capacities.

Within the images of Atmospheres lies a unified visual quality: there's nothing dreamy—sharp, in focus and unclouded. The images are as clear as they can be, some of them glamorous even, but without being loud and shouting. In the background there's always a whisper that lingers, just enough to give you goosebumps. Parallels can be drawn between the cinematic Atmospheres and the late master Akira Kurosawa's last film, Dreams, in that not only both artists based their works (eight short films in Dreams) on real life experiences (actual dreams in Kurosawa's case), but they both also feature bold colors and gorgeous pictures to illustrate something that is gloomy in theory. 

Hope to see you at "The Gathering" this Saturday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Put down this mask, take off this shirt, and breath (lifting the rock from your chest with the strength you never realized you had until now).

I want to stop all this cursing I've been doing lately.  I have been driven insane for small measurements of time and I feel wild and released.  I may have made myself into an animal, something that turns disgust in the minds of those who catch me during the trance.  And I apology if I turned your stomach sour, if there was anything that made you feel robbed of good, good feeling.  I had to get something off my chest, like a white shirt that collects the dirt of the world, I needed to clean myself but licking off the dirt like a cat, like a dog, and I sure did bark.

When I come here I am tired, I am burnt out, and it is only a feeling (or at least I keep telling myself).  And as I point my little finger my biggest finger towards you, yes, you, I know you are listening, I know I can speak, here, right now, so I'm going to speak if that's alright with you (you can always just stop here).

When tapes were tapes.  My hair was shorter than, my arms and legs skinnier and my clothes baggier.  I rolled on four, I had a stereo in my backpack and I was jamming Wu-Tang on the bus ride home.  The kids looked at me, I stuck out of the crowd easy, not just for my color of my skin but the bizarreness I carried so naturally.  I wasn't original I wasn't unique, I just had something that wasn't there, always missing and not necessarily mysterious just incomplete.  And as I looked out the window to a boring, beautiful, and majestic New Mexican landscape, filled with hills dotted with shrubs and carved by neighborhoods and parks I imagined the now.  Where I would be when I grew into the person I am today.  And did I have an inkling of an idea of what would come.  Perhaps that doesn't matter, about who I would be, if I become something "better", evolved, or understanding, to have this career to have this respect.  What mattered was the thought, the curiosity behind the question, that has remained.  What will be of me in years to come, will I be asking this exact question then?  What adventures, what loves, what broken bones and embarrassing and amazing stories will I have gained then?  More run-in with the cops, what drugs will I have discovered, what about the people, at the end of the day, the people, will I have encountered, experienced.  How strong will the connections be, with this person, with that person, and how will they turn my heart, my mind, my EVERYTHING, and change me, or discover something that has either been hidden or lost for oh-so-long.

I've been running with the idea of meeting people.  The topic, "New People", but this can also apply to people of my past as well.  For now let's run with this example, new people entering your life, by chance encounter or by shared mutuality, and talking to them excessively, sharing just about everything.  The idea of blindly, no no, faithfully trusting them without the word of "TRUST" in there, but just giving yourself to them, as they give you their whole life story.  And by "giving yourself" I mean to reveal your history, of who you are in stories and provoking a certain feeling.  For each and every "New Person" to provide you with something, to turn this gear out of many in your mind and for there to be a birth of something, either a feeling, a thought, or strengthen something previously made and left in a sustained state. And in return to give something back, for the gain to be mutual, and though I feel I have only the slightly notion of what someone has gained from talking to me, from being my friend, or by reading my words and seeing my images, what I gained from them is something profound, something that is the everything that I call my essence.

I like the concept of the blank slate, that if one were to put a newborn into a blank room and provide it with nutrition and waste-disposal would that being have a thought in its head?  Without influence, without the "outside" world, that external and out-of-this oneness of self, would we ever form our own thoughts?  And to continue with that idea, with the early humans, what was going on in their minds, what of the lone hunter/gather with only the landscape to communicate with, what was he or she thinking when looking out from their cave, wrapped in the lion cloth, and spear in hand.  Perhaps the world around us, whether filled with sentient beings or not is able to provide us with insight, with the drive that turned the gear within our minds and to gave birth to the thought and awareness of self, and most importantly, the world around us.

The bus rolls up, I can see my house, that place on the cusp of "Snob Hill", what is 1136, the number 11 continuing in so many of the houses I've lived in, and the 36 as in 36 Chambers, a title of album by Wu-Tang.  The broad driveway, the small island of bushes between the driveway and the road, how a car once crashed into it and drove off, saying, "We'll fix it", and how they still haven't, but there is still the possibility of that happening (one day in absurdity).  I remember the gap in the sideway between our property and the neighbors, and how many times I walked, ollied, and tripped, and fell as a result of that gap filled with stones.  I remember the day our neighbors kids, the three of them, one named, Carl, told us that our house was haunted.  Thank God we were moving from that place I remember thinking, not another year of living in that house, with that barking wall.  And the day we moved, when I said, "Smell ya later" in my head and how I didn't realize at the time that I was saying goodbye to my childhood, to the mystery and awe that surrounded it, and most importantly the feeling of being spooked.  Good bye spooky, good bye fried bread, and monumental sadness upon sadness, you were the sadness place of my existence and the most rememberable.  Goodbye mystery, with the magic bean van turned DYI RV and a UHaul truck with the shittiest radio and holding my pee for hours and hours, we have yet to see each other again (outside of dreams and distant memories).

We'll meet again (in a threatening voice and a roll of the fist and a smile on the face).

Conveyor: "Atmospheres" reviewed by Aubrey Hays

Exhibitions have become a funny thing for me, where it has become less about the work and more about the people surrounding it, making it happen but also supporting it.  The sort of behind the scenes, just like hearing an artist talk not about the image but the story behind it, that personal flavor, that something you can't get from just looking at art, but from forming a connection with the artist through oral tradition.

I'll be officially posting information on my next exhibition, which is my first solo show, later, but I wanted to mention the word, "Gathering".  It isn't necessarily an exhibition but rather a gathering for me.  The people that have become attached to it, whether from the hardworking folks at Angell Gallery, or Qian Ma who wrote the statement for the exhibition, to the friends and strangers that will be there to see the work.  It is overwhelming to know how many people are involved and appreciate what you are doing, and there comes a point where the art, the original reason why all this is happening isn't the point anymore, it is the people involved.

A wonderful artist that holds many parallels with myself has taken the time to write a review of the themes and images of the exhibition, "Atmospheres".  And I wanted to express the honor to catch the attention of such a talented and full-of-heart artist, Aubrey Hays, who writes for Conveyor's blog.

The connections that have been made through this medium of self-expression have been the most awarding function to making art, and has become the point of it all.  And even though my feet are very much in the same place, I feel like I've travelled all over the place, meeting such wonderful people, time after again, forming connection after connection and finding myself at home, where home is, the faces that matter have made it home.

The Interview click here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


(Snap! Preview at Edward Day Gallery, 2012)

(I'm Not There Yet., from Reminiscence, 2010)

If you're in Toronto this Sunday, and you feel like buying some art for a cause, the Magenta Foundation and ACT are having their annual auction, Snap! at the National Ballet School (400 Jarvis) 6-11pm. The auction raises money for ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto). This is my second time donating to the auction, and this time around I have a full-scale and editioned print for the auction this year (image above), or here.

For more information on the auction, click here.
For more information on ACT, click here.