I’ve wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. After high school I went to art school in Montreal but dropped out after a couple of years and moved to Toronto where I enrolled in the Signwriting program at George Brown College. In 1980 I got a job at The Lettering Shop in Toronto as an apprentice show-card writer. We specialized in hand-lettered display signs for stores and events. I eventually took over the business and have been in the sign trade ever since, as we evolved from brushes and paint to computers and plotters and pixels.
In 1998 my brother Colin gave me a digital camera, the 1.5 megapixel Fujifilm Finepix MX-700. It was a wonder to me at the time to be able to transfer photographs directly to a computer and see them on screen. I became fascinated with the way a digital photograph was really made up of these discreet little squares called pixels. When you zoomed in close enough, the image disappeared and you were left with an abstract grid of solid colours. The same thing happened if you reduced the “resolution” instead of zooming in. The image would get fuzzy at first, but then start to sharpen into a sort of hard edged pattern.
I began using our signmaking equipment to print the results of my experiments with the digital image. Our Roland CammJet wide-format ink-jet printer was perfect for producing archival pigment prints on cotton-rag paper, the process I still use today.
A few years ago my wife Arlene and I were making frequent day trips to visit her parents in Guelph Ontario, about an hour west of Toronto. In the late afternoon we would invariably find ourselves on the Gardiner Expressway eastbound, heading back into town with the setting sun behind us. The view of the city looming before us was spectacular and I began bringing my camera along, taking snapshots through the windshield while Arlene drove.
This series, “Low-Res / High-Rise” is based on those photos and others like them, many taken from a car or bus travelling through the canyon of office towers and condos that cuts across the bottom of the city. By lowering the resolution to the point where the pixels sort of align with the architecture, the glass and steel and setting sun seem to combine into a shimmering geometry.