Disney’s Academy Awards-nominated short film “Paperman” has been making the social media rounds this week. While many people enjoy it for the novel merging of computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, I was drawn to the video for it’s representation of serendipity in the city.
NITE OWL is an exhibition featuring photographs by Angus McIntyre, curated by the Civic Historian and Author John Atkin.
Angus McIntyre is a retired bus driver of 41 years. A lifelong interest in transportation, lighting and urban history led him to documenting the city scene through photography. As a natural night owl, the late night shift was an obvious choice and his camera often went along for the ride.
In the deserted streets of old East End, he captured the details of light on streetcar tracks about to be ripped from the ground and the faded glory of corner grocery stores caught in the incandescent glow of Strathcona’s street lights. McIntyre’s night-time photographs of emptiness of the city and its streets show us a recent, but seemingly distant, past.
Watch a video here of Angus McIntyre talking about his career as a bus driver, along with some amazing photographs (owned by the City of Vancouver, 125th Anniversary).
Details: NITE OWL
OPENING: Sunday, September 16th, 2pm – 5pm, Baron Galley
Artist and curator in attendance. Refreshments will be served. Details HERE.
ARTIST AND CURATOR TALK: Saturday, October 13th, 2pm, Baron Galley
Reservations required by e-mail
Information: 604.682.1114, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes we need to see our city in a new way to realize what has always been there. That is the case with graphic designer and photographer Emmanuel Buenviaje. Buenviaje is an Emily Carr graduate and an experienced graphic designer with a passion for typography who first picked up a camera in 2006.
Although he is a Vancouver native, photography gave Buenviaje a different perspective on our city. It forced him to slow down and view the city in a different way. Buenviaje places great importance on exploring a neighbourhood by foot, allowing him to witness details not seen on the saddle of a bike, the seat of a bus, or behind the wheel of a car.
Viewing his neighbourhood from behind a camera gave Buenviaje a new perspective on Vancouver. He had long been fascinated by the complexity of Vancouver’s urban landscape, but photographing it opened his eyes to the layers, texture and history all around him that he overlooked before. Buenviaje’s photo walks allowed him to see the city’s various neighbourhoods in what he feels is a more genuine way. According to Buenviaje, “There is a more authentic Vancouver. While it may be grittier, it isn’t ugly—rather it is real.”
Those of you familiar with Fred Herzog’s photography will sense a familiar aesthetic in Buenviaje’s urban photography. This isn’t by accident. Buenviaje counts Herzog as a significant influence on his work. Herzog’s images of Vancouver was the city that Buenviaje remembered growing up in the 1980’s.
He prefers Vancouver’s older neighbourhoods—particularly Stathcona, Chinatown and Mount Pleasant. Through photographing these communities, Buenviaje realized that “there remains a quaintness in many of our neighbourhoods that continues to define us, when we take the time to look for it.” He is attracted to the city’s historic neighbourhoods—along with the industrial areas remaining along Marine Drive—because they “allow us to remember our past, to see both where we’ve been; but also notice the changes that hint at our future.”
Buenviaje’s series, Mount Pleasant Vernacular plays off the duality. He wanted to push the boundaries of photo documentary through exploring the physical language of his evolving central Vancouver neighbourhood. While his other photographs feature candid shots of people carrying out their daily lives in the city, this series draws on his long-term interest in architecture. He feels that architecture is part of the unique ‘language’ of each neighbourhood, and wanted to capture it graphically.
The series exhibits Buenviaje’s talents as both a photographer and a graphic designer. Each of the ten images are a composition of two photographs superimposed on one another. While his photographs capture a rarely seen side of the city, his graphic design background grounds the photographs on sound design principles that bring together typography, colour, composition, and a touch of playfulness.
This novel technique does a great jobs capturing Mount Pleasant’s unique character. Buenviaje’s images acknowledge the neighbourhood’s industrial past while looking toward its undefined future.
A version of this post was originally published on Spacing Vancouver.
Deck Two’s Global City is an ambitious hand-drawn mural that aims to encompass the world—or at least its architecture—into a single cityscape.
- DeckTwo Global City(awesome-robo.com)
- A Global City Mash-Up(theatlanticcities.com)
- Artistry: Behold a City Where the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum Coexist(curbed.com)
One of the most talked about sites in Vancouver’s recent history is the former Olympic Village. From the Olympic celebrations to the eco-sustainability of it’s infrastructure to the cost overruns and lingering public debt, the site has been the subject of more coverage than any other neighbourhood in recent memory. But for all this talk, unless you live or work nearby, or jog or cycle around this corner of the seawall, few Vancouverites actually visit the site regularly. Even fewer have spent as much time over the past several years as photographer Leslie Hossack.
As a resident of ‘The Village of False Creek” as it is now called, I was immediately drawn toward’s Hossack’s photography. As I researched her work and saw her exhibition at the Vancouver Archives in the spring of 2012, I became even more captivated. But it wasn’t until I met her and sat down for a few times that I truly gained an appreciation for her work.
Hossack’s photographs document the recent past of a part of Vancouver with a long history. Before colonization, False Creek was well used by First Nations’ for hunting and fishing. For much of the 20th century, it was a hub of industrial activity. As industry left the city core, a sea of parking lots took over the site. Today, as residents move into the condos and apartments originally built for the Olympics, and businesses open up, the Village on False Creek is emerging as a vibrant community.
In-between the sea of parking lots and the current collection of condos was a unique time when the site evolved from a flock of construction cranes to an avenue of shiny buildings. Hossack, a Ottawa resident who visits Vancouver for three months each year, first noticed the site in 2008 when she was driving southbound over the Cambie Street bridge. She noticed several construction cranes rising from the ground and was immediately captivated. It was a dream site for a photographer interested in architecture — a massive zone of urban development in the heart of a city.
While documenting the site from 2008 to 2011, Hossack focused on two major themes: change and continuity, and representation and reality. These are fitting for a subject imbued with its own tensions. Southeast False Creek is a site that is both old and new that has evolved from industrial use to a residential setting; and from the site of an international celebration to the home of a local community. Such tensions are reflective of Hossack’s own duality as both a visitor and a resident. Her split perspective provides an informed view of our city while allowing impartiality from her subject.
Hossack’s unique approach to photography amplifies this duality. While may photographers would be interested in capturing the dynamism and intense activity of the site, Hossack took another approach. Her photographs convey a sense of stillness that borders on the surreal. According to Hossack:
I have been told that I see the world with an unconventional eye, and there may be a bit of truth to that. Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to eschew conventional status symbols; consequently, I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and structures, and to portray the inclusive as exclusive.
Another aspect that makes her photography unique is a lack of people. This may seem like a strange omission for a series entitled Vancouver’s Village 2008-2011: Constructing a village, Creating a community, but Hossack has a compelling explanation. She wants her photographs to seem timeless and feels that including people—and their clothing styles—ruins this perception. As such, many of her photographs look like architecture renderings. Indeed it is challenging to distinguish her photographs of architectural models and promotional posters from the rest of her work.
When asked about the “community” part of her subtitle—given the lack of people and the super-human scale of her work—Hossack explains that instead of photographing the people who make up a community, she wanted to capture the infrastructure that makes community possible. This includes the Canada Line station that helps moves the community, the Creekside Community Centre where the community comes for recreation, the condo units where the community lives, and the Neighbourhood Energy Utility that provides heating and hot water for the community.
Regardless of your personal views on the Olympics, the Village at False Creek, or the ongoing debt issues, Hossack’s work is a must see for anybody interested in the urban evolution of Vancouver. It is rare to document the construction of a site, let alone turn it into an art show. Leslie Hossack has done both. In doing so, she improved our understanding and appreciation of this important place.
For more information about Leslie Hossack, check out her blog Haute Vitrine.
NOTE: A version of this post originally appeared on Spacing Vancouver in January 2012.
- Vancouver pays off $81 million of Olympic Village loan(vancouversun.com)
- Vancouver sprouting cranes with 16 condo towers in progress and 67 others in the works(theprovince.com)
Kaid Benfield captures the colours of a New York City evening in this video slideshow.
All images (c)2011 by F. Kaid Benfield. Music: Sharon Shannon featuring Kirsty MacColl, “Libertango” (via YouTube Audio Swap)
I august, I posted about Brett Camper’s 8-bit cities. At the time, I was a bit jealous, that Brett hadn;t included Vancouver. However, I recently found something even better. Dave Delisle has created a map of Vancouver’s SkyTrain transit system, done in the Super Mario Bros 3 map style.
Now vintage video game geeks have no excuse for getting lost on Skytrain!
In the latest installment of my impromptu City Art series, I bring you 8-Bit Cities.
[A]n attempt to make the city feel foreign yet familiar, smashing together two culturally common models of space: the lo-fi overhead world maps of 1980s role-playing and adventure games, and the geographically accurate data that drives today’s web maps and GPS navigation.
I hope to evoke the same urge for exploration, abstract sense of scale, and perhaps most importantly unbounded excitement that many of us remember experiencing on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Commodore 64, or any other number of 8-bit microcomputers.
Maps offer us visual architectures of the world, encouraging us to think about and interact with space in particularly constrained ways. Take some time to think about your surroundings a little differently. Set out on a quest. Be an adventurer.
To date, Brett has created 18 cities: New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Austin, Detroit, Boulder, Kyoto, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Nijmegen, Seattle, Portland and Singapore. Cities in the works include Los Angeles, Chicago, Rome, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Shanghai.
Brett uses map data from OpenStreetMap, a community-managed, wiki-like map of the world.
As somebody who came of age in the 1980s and remembers spending hours playing Legend of Zelda on my Nintendo, these maps resonate with me. I hope he continues the series and expands to Canadian cities.
I noticed that he crowd-sourced some of the funding through Kickstarter for the existing maps. Perhaps we can make an offer to add Vancouver to the list!
Last week I brought-you the Colour of Cities, features Flickr mash-ups. This week it is time to play with Goole Maps. Rorschmap is a Google Maps mashup by James Bridle that creates kaleidoscopic views of cities and other locations from around the world.
Note: The kaleidoscope works best in Safari and Chrome on Mac. Firefox and iPhones/iPads will struggle. Not sure about PCs.
- Rorschach’s New York ID (miksplace.wordpress.com)
The site queries and aggregates image data from Flickr,to find out the colour of anything. It uses an averaging algorithm on the colour pixel values of the queried images, displaying the result incrementally as each picture is loaded. Based on the assumption that random images will average out to become grey, any colour bias which deviates from grey is attributed to the search term.
While The Color Of can be used with any subject matter, I was—of course—drawn to cities. I’ve noticed that various cities each have a unique colour palette that contributes to it’s underlying urban terroir. Here are the results for some of my reader’s (i.e. your) hometowns:
Through his Yurbanism brand, Yuri Artibise explores the ‘Y’ of urbanism by sharing ways to make our cities more livable, community-oriented places one block at a time.