Friday, March 31, 2006

100 Views - 7
No, your monitor has not gone on the fritz, I've just taken a sudden left turn.
I prefer the way these images work in BxW.
They remind me more of historical records, urban surveys, cheaply produced 1970's conceptual art documents, etc. These associations feel right to me, as they seem to help entangle the form of the series with it's content, and at the same time underline the 'bland interchangability' aspect of the images themselves (an illusion which, goofy as it might sound, is actually something I'm aiming for.)
Apologies for the sudden mid-course correction, especially when we are still within plain sight of the dock.
All those with a strong aversion to digital BxW photography may now exit the boat at the stern.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

100 Views - 6

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

100 Views - 5
Stanislaw Lem, author of Solaris, Tales of Pirx the Pilot, Return From the Stars and one of my favorite books of all time, His Master's Voice, is dead at 84.

Monday, March 27, 2006

100 Views - 4

Sunday, March 26, 2006

100 Views - 3

Saturday, March 25, 2006

100 Views - 2
Christopher Brayshaw weighs in:
"I disagree with the suggestion that Le Corbusier or the creators of your strange Victoria highrise would have thought they were foisting off anything on anybody. I think projects like these were built out of a desire to help, to solve things, to reconfigure peoples' relationships to their society, and not out of sneering disinterest in the lives of those who would live there. (I guess my thinking has been influenced by Sylvia Grace Borda's study of similar buildings in Scotland). That idealism led to the creation of uncomfortable or unliveable spaces is, for me, more interesting than the notion that these things were made out of simple contempt for their inhabitants -- just another version of the (for me, untenable) thesis that advanced art is an attempt to "put one over" on the rubes."

Friday, March 24, 2006

100 Views-1

See that highrise in the background, the big white one? I've been eyeing this building since we moved here in December. It's located about a block away from our apartment, and it's very similar to Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles, which I posted about just a few days ago.
It's called View Towers, and it's infamous among Victorians for it's drug dealing, prostitution and all around 'squalor.' According to my Victorian ex-pat friend, there have also been a disturbingly large number of suicides on it's premises since it was built in 1972, including a particularly gruesome rooftop plummet that made headlines. But the only information I've been able to find online about the building, besides some rough architectural schematics, were posts by various Victoria bloggers poking fun at it's 'druggie' inhabitants and run down interior.
Personally, I can't take my eyes off it when I am walking anywhere nearby (which is pretty much everyday). It's so grotesquely oversized in relation to it's one and two story neighbours, and so weirdly monolithic in it's appearance that it almost seems like it could have been dropped smack into the middle of Victoria by a group of bored, giggling aliens (or bored, giggling modernist architects, whichever.)
I've wanted to make a photograph of it for a long time, but I didn't really know where to begin until I suddenly remembered that I often use the building as a directional landmark to get my bearings straight when starting my walk home from wherever my daily photo strolls take me. Thinking on this, my focus suddenly shifted, and something clicked.
So with a bow to the legacy of Katsushika Hokusai, and a tip of the hat to Robert Linsley, here goes...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sea Lion, Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria, B.C. 2006.

Several new images up on the site, most of them taken at the Royal British Columbia Museum, a place well worth spending a full day inside.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Raised on its thick, raw concrete stilts, massive and domineering, the Unité became an instant classic of Modern architecture. Just about everyone in the profession adored it, or said they did; the only people who couldn't stand the great grimy beast were the luckless ones who lived in it. We found when we arrived there in 1979 that it was in pitiable condition. Corbu's béton brut couldn't be cleaned, the metal-framed windows were hopelessly corroded, the electricity kept shorting out, the brise-soleils or concrete sunscreens were permanently foul with pigeon shit, the "shopping street" halfway up inside was locked and shuttered because ordinary French people prefer to do their marketing on real streets (an obvious aspect of social behaviour that eluded the intellectual grasp of the formgiver, who believed that folk ought to behave in accordance with the dotty authoritarian notions of idealist philosophes like Saint-Simon and Fourier). Saddest of all was the roof, which Corbu had imagined as a sort of concrete Acropolis dedicated to the cult of the sun and of physical culture, like a Greek palaestra, complete with pools and jogging track. It was a chaos of dried slime and broken cinder-blocks. And when the concierge, who hated the place, granted us admission to his flat in the Unité, we found that he and his wife had valiantly fought back against the functionalist plainness Corbu had prescribed for the residents: it was chock-a-block with fringes, bobbles and tassels, Louis this and that, and even a department-store rococo chandelier which, due to the lowness of the ceiling, almost touched the dining-table. Here, the working class had ceased to be the abstraction Corbu fancied. It had taken its revenge on the modernist emperor. I sometimes wonder if the decor of that concierge's flat is still the same today.

-Robert Hughes, in today's Guardian.

Anyone driving north over the Cambie St. Bridge into downtown Vancouver can look out their driver's side window and see a disturbing contradiction of Hughes optimistic vision of mankind's resilience to architectural de-humanization: row upon row of cold, authoritarian glass highrises, each of which probably contains upwards of a million dollars worth of identical, retro-modernist IKEA furnishings (cost happily absorbed by occupants!)
Mom and dad's comfy old chair passed down from dad's folks, the one you used to lounge on while you read comic books and whose musky smell still reminds you of your childhood? Please...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A late night visit to Crystal Pool for the 9 pm to 11 pm 'Toonie' swim, after not swimming laps in over two years.
I'm a decent, but graceless swimmer, usually losing any semblance of proper form after only two lengths of freestyle. From then on it's a wheeze fest, my formerly ambitious goals reduced to a simple need to make the other side of the pool without inhaling water. Switching to the breaststroke, I'm able to maintain a solid and respectable speed, but the freestyle wipes me out. Regardless, it was a very satisfying night.
Highlight: Gliding over the deep end at the end of the last lap, peering down at the scuba divers training 12 feet below, the tightness of my drawing desk body slowly uncoiling in a warm bath of endorphins.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

We have now won two world-wars, neither of which concerned us, we were slipped in. We have levelled the powers
Of Europe, that were the powers of the world, into rubble and dependence. We have won two wars and a third is coming.

This one--will not be so easy. We were at ease while the powers of the world were split into factions: we've changed that.
We have enjoyed fine dreams; we have dreamed of unifying the world; we are unifying it--against us.

Two wars, and they breed a third. Now guard the beaches, watch the north, trust not the dawns. Probe every cloud.
Build power. Fortress America may yet for a long time stand, between the east and the west, like Byzantium.

--As for me: laugh at me. I agree with you. It is a foolish business to see the future and screech at it.
One should watch and not speak. And patriotism has run the world through so many blood-lakes: and we always fall in.

-Robinson Jeffers, May 12, 1944.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spring cleaning in full effect. A half-winter's worth of dust devils coaxed out from behind the furniture, sunlight invading the darkest corners of the apartment, James Blackshaw's "O True Believers" on the headphones like a hint of what's to come.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, 1558.
Click to enlarge.

Painted 424 years before Sternfeld made his exposure of the elephant.