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At the VAG, exposure to a different way of seeing

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Link here:

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/a...article1315470/

 

 

Cut and paste here:

 

At the VAG, exposure to a different way of seeing

 

McFarland’s variations of Orchard View with the Effects of the Seasons, 2003-2006, part of an exhibit of his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery. ‘When you’re in the same spot with your camera and you position it the same as it was a couple of days before, you are able to see more of the place,’ the artist says.

By blending multiple snapshots of a landscape taken over a period of time, photographer Scott McFarland challenges traditional ideas of representation

 

Marsha Lederman

 

Vancouver — From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Published on Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2009 5:25PM EDT

 

Last updated on Friday, Oct. 09, 2009 2:13AM EDT

 

 

Looking at one of Scott McFarland's panoramic photographs, you get the sense that something is awry. The shadows fall in different directions. One tree might be budding, another bare, another in its full autumnal glory. The same person appears in two different locations.

 

If these clues suggest the image can't be real, think again. For McFarland, this panoramic scene is closer to reality than any single snapshot could convey. His photograph does not represent a moment in time. It's a collection of moments.

 

 

“ A lot of my images represent the kind of entropy of the built environment. And so from a photographic point of view, I'm drawn to objects and structures that are in the later phase of that entropy rather than the early phase. ”

 

 

More than 60 of his works have been installed at the Vancouver Art Gallery at the just-opened exhibition Scott McFarland. The artist creates his landscapes by returning to the same location and photographing it repeatedly over a period of time, then blending the results into one composite. To further complicate matters, he creates several versions of the photograph and calls them editions.

 

In the case of Orchard View with the Effects of the Seasons , the artist returned to the same plot of land and took photos over a three-year period.

 

“When you're in the same spot with your camera and you position it the same as it was a couple of days before, you are able to see more of the place. And you begin to think: Why is that representation of the space from the day before the [correct] one and not this moment that's happening too?” McFarland said as the show was being installed.

 

“And so what I have come to do, because I photograph in a place over a period of time, is see it in different ways. I think about how certain parts of it are interesting at certain times, and then other parts [are interesting], and then I try to bring them together.”

 

Originally from Vancouver but now living in Toronto, McFarland, 33, was taught at the University of British Columbia by some of the masters of contemporary photography: Jeff Wall, Roy Arden and Mark Lewis. “They gave me the tools to go off and develop my own ideas.”

 

McFarland has a particular interest in capturing not necessarily the ephemeral, but certainly the endangered. Orchard View , for example, features a couple of old sheds on a large overgrown plot of land in the tony Vancouver suburb of Point Grey. With its million-dollar location, he knew as he was creating the work that the piece of land was far too valuable to remain vacant for long. Indeed, the land has since been cleared and a giant new estate built. The wild emptiness caught by McFarland's camera has disappeared.

 

“A lot of my images represent the kind of entropy of the built environment. And so from a photographic point of view, I'm drawn to objects and structures that are in the later phase of that entropy rather than the early phase,” McFarland says. “I just think that [older structures and objects] photograph better. The detail on them and the patina and the aging effect also makes for interesting photographic qualities.”

 

And so his photos feature aging boathouses, sugar shacks and photo labs – which became a subject of intense interest for McFarland around 2000 when it became clear to him that digital photography was going to triumph over traditional photography. This exhibition features two lab exteriors – one in Vancouver, and one in Los Angeles. Both businesses have since shut down.

 

He is perhaps best known for his pastoral photographs, represented in part in this exhibition by his Hampstead Heath series, for which the British Romantic painter John Constable served as an influence.

 

The London park was a favourite subject of Constable's, in particular the sky over the park. McFarland too pays great attention to the sky over the heath. And sometimes he revisits Constable's subjects (as in The Admiral's House, as Seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House ). But the similarities extend beyond subject matter.

 

While exploring what would become his Hampton Heath series, McFarland happened to come across three different versions of the Constable painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds – all in one week. McFarland noticed slight variations in the works. The sky, for example, was different. He did some research and learned that there were four commissions of the 1823 work – and four different ideas about it. Constable paid heed and created four variations of the same painting.

 

McFarland has employed the same idea – not to satisfy patrons, but himself. So at the VAG, two versions of Orchard View with the Effects of the Seasons are installed, one beneath the other. It is clearly the same plot of the land, the same photograph. But it doesn't take long to notice the differences: the colours of the leaves, the cloud formations in the skies. Where other photographers issue numbered editions of their work, McFarland creates numbered variations. Each edition is a unique work of art.

 

Scott McFarland is at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Jan. 3 (www.vanartgallery.bc.ca ).

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lol that's how they pronounce it on the radio here too.... "This week at the VAG..."

 

And thanks for the heads up on that exhibit. I'll definitely try and check it out.

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