In my most recent work, concrete walls in a small room are covered with dark elements, warning of a world of transgression, of suppressed violence and sexual ambiguity, aggression and timidity, anxiety and exuberance, resistance and control, playfulness, and ironic humor. Historic and contemporary references jostle against each other. The sense of unease in the room is directly related to the unease of the world in which we live, where unpredictable violence is never far away, particularly in this new digital age, where new strains have been put on the human psyche.
My work combines elaborate staging followed by editing in Photoshop. I create personality “types” that subtly explore the fragility and ferocity of the contemporary human condition. For this piece, I staged friends, neighbors, and acquaintances in the room, and collaboratively allowed them to respond to the environment. The characters are particular to the urban environment of the west coast of British Columbia, where I live.
Over the span of two years, a concrete room was painted with images “that merge historic and contemporary references with the detritus of Shangri-La: an uncanny mélange of dolls’ houses, comic strips, fairy tales and frightening toys.” The texts and images that fill the studio walls were collected, painted, or drawn and meticulously arranged and manipulated using digital scans and traditional collage methods, and then writ large in water-soluble paint.
People were staged in the room and photographed with a medium-format camera. Transparencies were scanned at a high resolution, and Photoshop was used to make additions, deletions, and subtle scale changes. Many times, more than one negative was used in the making of an image.