Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Slides, the Canada Council and the Disappearance of Art Works in the 1990s Art work, Terasses de la Chaudiere, collection Audrey Buffton, Ottawa





I have been working as an artist for more than 30 years. I did my fist solo in 1982. I like every artist of my type, have worked to make a complete document of my production, because after all art vanishes into vaults and one’s lifetime work gradually becomes disassembled. In the end you only have your slides, or at least that’s how it was until the age of digital photography.


It was a requirement through the first two decades of my practice for the artist to make masked, duplicate slides of his or her work for presentation to Canada Council juries. No other mediums would be accepted and to this end I applied my self with original slide transparencies masked with gold coloured sticky foil used for stained glass work.

I don’t remember how I came by the foil, but it worked very well and did the trick as I received five consecutive Canada Council grants. At one time I had two catalogues of slides, originals for reproduction masked with glittering gold foil and duplicates made with care at Carsand Mosher in Halifax and later at Ginn, Ottawa, not as crisp or sharp as the masked originals, but regulation for the Canada Council.

Flash forward to 2000 and my masked originals are all gone. Over time the masking agent, glue, has destroyed all my original slides and I am left with a partial catalogue of duplicate slides as masters. In the interval the Canada Council has of course banned slides and will accept only reductions from high-resolution jpgs. Note, they must be “reductions”.

As a master of photography among other things, I have moved on to high-resolution jpgs. But what has become of my catalogue of images from the 80’s and early 90’s? Soft and unusable. While in practice it doesn’t really matter that my old work is beyond use at the Canada Council, for the purpose of posting images to this blog however, most of my early history is unfortunately lost. 

It is a hard reflection in the age of digital photography to have a flawed or incomplete catalogue, but until the day I can bring all the works together and re-photograph them, I have to retain some digitized dupes. The photo above is digitized dupe of Terasses de la ChaudiƩre, 1995, from my Ottawa Government Building series. As I continue to archaeologize my work in this blog I hope you will forgive the occasional low quality digitized image.

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