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Photographic Works : Suburban Studies (Square One Mississauga) (2017)

The eight canvasses of Suburban Studies

At the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2002, I, along with Michael Awad and Eve Egoyan, sought to look beyond the building of the urban environment to capture something that one might call the temporal and social architecture of public space. Buildings and other urban infrastructure create interior and exterior spaces and these spaces help to define how they are inhabited by people… they enable and discourage various forms of social gathering.

In Venice, with my video work Seen, I unfolded the social ecology of Piazza San Marco. In subsequent works, I have created installations and videos that parse other kinds of public spaces, attempting in each case to highlight the patterns and structures that are hidden in plain sight and to consider public space in the context of contemporary surveillance.

In my 2017 "Between Stillness and Motion" exhibition at Pari Nadimi Gallery, in addition to explorations of Piazza San Marco, Trafalgar Square in London, and Dundas Square in Toronto, I looked at the very different suburban spaces surrounding Square One Mississauga. Starting with video captured from the top floor of the Mississauga Civic Centre, I algorithmically separated the motion from stillness, yielding on one hand, the pedestrians and cars, and on the other, the shopping centre'€™s buildings, the roads and sidewalks, parking lots and landscaping.

The people and cars, plucked from their architectural and infrastructural context, float in the fields of the images, with just the gentlest impression of the architectural surround present, barely visible, appearing as a surface texture, as though embossed in the canvas on which the images where printed.

The work is made up of 8 16 inch by 20 inch canvas photo prints in two columns of 4. The images at the top are fairly wide overviews, with the fields of view drawing in, tighter and tighter onto the people and cars as you progress down the columns of images.

With only a hint of the context, the figures float in an anonymous and mysterious space. People and vehicles maintain a careful separateness, with what feels like an enlarged zone of personal space afforded by the openness of the suburban landscape.


"Between Stillness and Motion, Pari Nadimi Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
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Copyright 2018 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 10/24/2018