Images are an important part of my work, whether I’m capturing, animating, collecting, organizing, or broadcasting them.
I was invited by artist Sharon Louden to collaborate with her in her studio at the 2018 Open Studios Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program. We prepared this installation, titled Origins, for the event on April 27–29, 2018, and it includes a video (available for viewing on YouTube) and wall paintings, in addition to the raw aluminum sheets — which dominate the installation — and its colorful accents. A small set of photographs is available on my Flickrstream.
This is the text that was available to visitors of the installation:
The origin of art is rooted in relationships. The ancient Greek historian Pliny suggests art was born when a Corinthian maiden traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on a wall. Another story tells of a young man who could not paint the Buddha because of his enlightened glow, and so was forced to paint the holy man’s reflection (or projection) in a pool of water. Both tales emphasize the need to fix a memory from the start, but they also point to the desire to retain a connection to someone special. These, of course, are only a few of the many origin stories of art, but they both point to the urge to remember, even if the result is a rough facsimile.
The journey of art meanders through the accumulation and excavation of experience, and in this installation Louden and Vartanian reflect on their five-year professional and personal relationship as a starting point for a larger investigation into the notion of origins, whether through the lens of family, childhood, ideology, communication systems, or material culture.
My best work combines both images and text, but I have a deep appreciation and knowledge of the history of photography, particularly regarding its role in colonialism and then later in postcolonial struggles.
Reading Susan Sontag’s On Photography was what made me want to study art. I found a copy on a bench outside the Boy Scout of Canada’s headquarters on Toronto’s Bloor Street. It was after hours and no one else was around so I took it. I read that within the next few days and it felt like a truck just hit me. My dad was a photographer, I took classes as soon as I could, and I’ve been making images ever since.
I created an art review in GIF format. I like to think of my GIFs as sparklers or butterflies, fluttering across your screen: