Residence

Ah, res­i­dence. The first year of uni­ver­sity, the first year away from my par­ents, and my first year in Ottawa. Also, the year I was intro­duced to Fear Factory, Dream Theater, and Refused.

I found these old pic­tures while orga­niz­ing my pic­tures folder. Boy, do they take me back.

Headbanging

Take a look at this photo, for exam­ple, where I strapped a pair of khakis to my head, and started head bang­ing to Deftones — Shove It (My Own Summer). Why did I strap a pair of khakis to my head? Cause I didn’t have long hair. Why did Pita and I decide to do this one day? I have no idea.

Dying my hair red

Washing my hair after the dye job

Alicia drying my hair

Or how about these ones, where the girls agreed to give me red chunks, back when I was obvi­ously in my Tool phase. Nadine mis-read the instruc­tions, mixed the wrong chem­i­cals, and it came out all sparse.

Highlights include:

  • Failing Calculus 2 with Dave and Jarod. When we wrote the sup­ple­men­tal exam, it was five peo­ple total in the pro­gram who failed, three of whom were us. I guess I had the wrong study bud­dies. In the end, I was the only one who passed.
  • Most of the guys on the floor get­ting sued for sex­ual harassment.
  • Jarod and Jono’s rave room, lit with a black­light and disco ball, which was some­what famous around campus.
  • Constant con­flict between neigh­bors, me and Pita included, over the vol­ume of music.
  • Going to the gym with Dave, and hav­ing him spot me while I benched the bar. As in, the bar with­out weights. Afterwards, I would spot him while he benched 240. I don’t think I could have helped much.

Pita took these pho­tos, got them printed, and scanned them. Dated ’99. Sure they aren’t great. They’re dark. They’re grainy, taken with a cheap film cam­era. But they’re still unfor­get­table mem­o­ries, and it gives them a cer­tain dated style. Makes me wish I had a taken some pic­tures myself.

Continue read­ing “Residence”…

Ersatz

This looks familiar.

A place I’ve been, a feel­ing I’ve had, a girl I fucked one night in the fall.

Back then she cried. Lying in bed next to me, she told me she was sorry. I believed her, but I didn’t trust the tears, because she knew how much it turns me on. She got what she wanted any­way, and I sup­pose I did too.

That was the last night I saw her.

And now this. A replace­ment who used my shots, my con­cept, my idea, and called it destiny.

But it isn’t can­did enough. It’s too forced. Unnatural. As if she’s try­ing too hard again to cap­ture what was lost, and what she could have had.

So she found another ver­sion, and used him in my place.

New Years '08

An hour to the new year, and I’m in the train station.

Trying not to throw up. Trying not to think about meet­ing new peo­ple. Trying not to think of hav­ing to see peo­ple I hate.

One of the sta­tion doors is propped open, but there isn’t a sin­gle per­son inside. The sta­tion, nor­mally bustling, is empty, with just the buzz of the lights to fill the empty space. Not even a wait­ing taxi out­side. Everything ster­ile as a hos­pi­tal. I wanted to take a pic­ture, but I could barely move, so I pulled out my note­book and man­aged to scrib­ble two words:

It's quiet

Another debil­i­tat­ing panic attack.

Pat and Jen’s party was post­poned, so I had already decided to stay home. It was ten when Aaron called me to go over1.

Halfway through the bus ride, I was filled with a sud­den rush of anx­i­ety. Maybe it was the peo­ple on the bus, or the fact that I wasn’t men­tally pre­pared to be at a party. I couldn’t breathe, yet I was hyperventilating.

I had to get off at the next stop, which turned out to be the train sta­tion. As I sat inside, the anx­i­ety would pass in a cou­ple min­utes, then come back in a wave as strong as before. I called Aaron and told him I was going to head home, but he insisted, so he sent Rob and Doug to pick me up.

I arrived drained and exhausted. It was a hell­ish night.

I can only hope the rest of the year goes bet­ter than this.

  1. The only way I found out about the New Year’s party was from Rob’s com­ment. Aaron never told me about it him­self, so I wasn’t going to pre­sume that I was invited, because I never take my friend­ships for granted. []

Last Day Of The Year

Outside, the snow­fall is fast but light. From the blan­ket of white on the cars, one can tell how long it’s been snow­ing. Against this white is the aching orange glow of the sky, and the warm flu­o­res­cent street lamps. The blinds of the houses across the street are all closed and the lights are off.

City in a snow globe. Lifeless. Plastic. Shaken.

In the dark­ness of my liv­ing room, Emiliana Torrini sings to me about love in the time of sci­ence.

It shouldn’t hurt me to be free
It’s what I really need
To pull myself together
But if it’s so good being free
Would you mind telling me
Why I don’t know what to do with myself

It’s the last day of the year. The lit­tle clock on my screen tells me it’s six min­utes to 2 a.m. I should be in bed, but this is the only chance I have to write.

Where did the time go? I thought I would be bored, or lonely, dur­ing the hol­i­day stretch, only to dis­cover that it wasn’t long enough.

They say that the days, months, years pass faster, the older you get.

Maybe this means I’m get­ting old.

The Challenges Of Expression

For feed­back, I showed Frédéric some of my ini­tial work for the next expo­si­tion, a cou­ple con­cept pho­tos that cap­ture the essence of my theme.

He told me I was being shy. That my work isn’t shock­ing or dis­turb­ing enough. Technically, it’s per­fect, but lack­ing the qual­i­ties that make it art. For my sub­ject, there’s a fine line between artistry and com­mer­cial­ism, and I haven’t yet crossed that line.

It made per­fect sense, what he said.

My sub­ject includes a lot of skin. But as a pho­tog­ra­pher who doesn’t have an estab­lished rep­u­ta­tion, I find it extremely dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple to take their clothes off, even for non-nude pho­tos. I’m try­ing to work on a lim­ited bud­get, with lim­ited mate­ri­als. I can’t afford to pay peo­ple to be my mod­els, so I rely on the favours of friends1.

There’s so much more I’d love to explore with eroti­cism, but I feel sti­fled by how uncom­fort­able peo­ple feel about being naked, along with a strong sense of propriety.

Working with mod­els is a chal­lenge in itself. There’s an ele­ment of uncer­tainty and unre­li­a­bil­ity when deal­ing with peo­ple, and being a con­trol freak, this has proven to be extremely frus­trat­ing. It would have been sim­pler to pho­to­graph objects instead of peo­ple, but human shapes are the source of my interest.

It’s also dif­fi­cult for me to pho­to­graph what is not con­sid­ered “con­ven­tion­ally” beau­ti­ful (to my tastes, at least). Bless the beau­ti­ful, I once wrote.

In addi­tion to all this, it’s hard for me to for­get the mean­ing I’ve always placed in what I cre­ate. For this exhibit, I’m try­ing to cre­ate out of pure aes­theti­cism. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I have to let go of these old habits.

At this point, the suc­cess of the show is still uncer­tain. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off in time. January will be busy. I know if I can over­come these chal­lenges, I’ll be able to over­come so much more.

It’s become a test of myself more than any­thing else.

  1. Tiana was nice enough to put out an announce­ment on her blog for model help, and care­fully noted that I’m not creepy. []