Two prints abandoned in a Banff Centre wood shop. They were tucked between a pipe and a wall above a plastic vacuum former station. A whole stack of them. They were maybe leftovers from a workshop that was taught there. I don't know who made them; neither does the recently hired technician. They make me smile. I took them without asking because of this but also because I really didn't want them to get thrown out. I wanted to keep looking at them.



I worked for two years as an assistant to a photographer who had a regular client in the cannabis industry. It was the largest cannabis farm in Western Canada maybe North America? One million square feet of grow I was once told. The farm was maybe ten kilometres away from the suburb I grew-up in where I first learned about / developed a lifestyle around smoking pot everyday. On a few occasions I can recall the photographer expressing his belief to me on our drives back to the city that he thought that cannabis culture was dead. It was hard to deny that it had become a corporate thing like anything else. Outside of its image, the whole market was overinflated from the beginning. When Pot was legalized in Canada people in the liquor industry poured millions into quick developments despite not having real concrete statistical data about the real size of the market. Now that over-investment is starting to show and these cannabis companies are scaling down in different ways. I stopped working on cannabis photoshoots not because I was part of that adjustment because I got a job as a photo tech at a university. It was fun and strange nonetheless. I liked the uniform: evergreen coloured pants and long-sleeved button up shirt which you would put overtop of your clothes. To top it off shoe covers, hair and beard nets. 


Many of the close friends who I made when I was in my late teens - early twenties shared in a creative bond. The earliest of which is Antosh Cimoszko with whom I bloomed into my interest in photography. After school we'd combine our meagre photo equipment (cameras / flashes / stands) and take portraits of each other in the spare room of my parent's house. Or we'd get into his beat-up civic and drive out to a non-suburban location to practice shooting with our 35mm cameras. If it wasn't for Antosh my interest wouldn't have been stoked into an obsession. The older I get the less embarrassed I am of these years of photo naivety. Maybe for this blog I'll dig up some of those drug store scans.

When I moved to Vancouver I made more friends like this. We'd go to night clubs or to see DJ's downtown and do drugs together. We were all doing creative things of some variety - most of them inspired by things going on commercially: product design, fashion, graphic design, music. All of them went on to develop careers in their respective interests. I'm the only one who stuck to being an 'artist'. In other words, they all enjoy stability and good pay while I hang onto a day job to keep my creativity going. 

As we started to grow apart there was a sense from those friends that I didn't respect what they did because it was oriented around money. This was partly true because in art school most of the critiques leveraged against the commercial side of photography was that it was somehow more ignorant or manipulative than uses of photography by contemporary artists. Commercialism is an easy target in art school environment where I think I felt self-righteous in my pursuit. That contemporary art had something to offer the public which could not be bought...  That culture and politic was outside of the market. 

Ofcourse now that I write it down it sounds even more ridiculous. Yet I see the same pattern at the art school I teach at now. Those students who just want make animations, design sneakers or draw manga are always considered not serious enough. They're perceived as lacking self-referential edge of contemporary art or a political / conceptual angle. It's belittling and alienating to people who come to art school either with the misunderstanding that it is a vocational school or who just simply like making stuff. 

After 6 years of art school (BFA / MFA) I still struggle with the boundaries of what is and isn't serious art. For those of us who are into photography, those lines are often drawn between things we do for money and things we do as art. Photography is probably the only viable skill you learn at art school that leads to some work. I've always kept those two things very separate because one is good (intellectual pursuit) and the other bad ($$ pursuit). It's thanks to artists like Roe Ethridge or Eileen Quinlan that I feel inclined now to unlearn those distinctions. Not just because there is a freedom to letting go of that difference but because of all those friends who I judged for being commercially ambitious while I did the hard work of being critical towards the world. 

Antosh and I came together again last year to shoot this Comme des Garcons fragrance collaboration with the streetwear company he works for. 


My fixation for darkrooms isn't satisfied by just printing in them. Being under red light in an isolated room makes even the simplest surroundings photogenic. I found some glow in the dark gaffer tape which is sometimes used when printing in colour darkrooms where there is no 'safe' light. Not really something used in b/w process but I started playing with it nonetheless because of strange crossover luminance of this green glow under dim red safe light. The combination made it kind of look like it was lacquered with sugar; glossy and hard.

After listening to the Aught Fraught episode with Eileen Quinlan I felt really excited about mixing everything that I normally keep in neatly contained art / non art areas together into a slosh of assorted photo formats and materials that I am constantly engaging with throughout my life. I feel encased by photography in all aspects of my life. Not in an 'anxiety of images' kind of way but in the way that my day job / night job / artistic interests / closest relationships are all various strains of photography that I interface with. Even when it is not mediating as a tool it is the media holding my life together. 

These instant film photos were made in 2016 and I walked around with them for a couple of years like they were trading cards but for no good reason really. Then they ended up pasted in a photo album after I got tired of it. I'm trying not to edit text too much. This is a good hobby.


Last weekend Sidney Gordon and I travelled to Saturna Island to stay at the studio of Al Razutis with the aim of learning to make holograms. We came in a car full of chemistries, cameras, darkroom equipment, food and six 102L plastic tote bins. In Al's studio we put together a simple modular sand table comprised of the aforementioned plastic tote bins (acting as cells) filled twelve inches deep with washed sand. Al had most of the instruments required, they only needed to be hot glued to metal tubes.


The first night at 1am we went to Winter Cove to look for Aurora Borealis. It was a twenty minute walk through the woods to get to the point.  An army of frogs croaked the tune of this adventure. We weren't able to see the lights with our naked eyes. Although my camera seems to have captured something. This journey through the woods at night in search of strange perceptual phenomena set the tone for the remainder of our three day trip.