I found this new moral dilemma. I’m always finding them.
This idea of shooting the town to express a kind of passive discontent that I felt, this sort of suffocation with the mundane, with routine, the conformity, the ugliness, but not even in a glamorous rock star ugly way, of the big box store malls.
The problem I felt was that I was starting to get to know people in this community who love it here. People who have originated from different countries that actually chose Canada, chose the suburbs, who are happy and thriving. These people actually love the suburbs. In fact some of them like the town of Ajax more than other suburbs they’ve lived in.
I was starting to feel that I was doing my new-found community of people a disservice. How would it make the people I’ve grown to care about feel if I showed their beloved home in any kind of negative light?
Well, I still may explore that, but I felt challenged to look at things in a new way. Not in the way they looked at it, because I can’t see it from their perspective, I can only see it from mine. But I asked myself what that negativity was about.
Back when I was growing up the suburbs there was a kind of darkness that was hidden in the suburbs and it lived in my house. It involved looking the other way. It involved not making waves.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that doesn’t still exist. But I caught myself living in the past with it – almost because it was easy. I knew how I felt. I know I didn’t want to show myself as being the kind of person who sold themselves out and retreated quietly to domesticity either.
But now I wondered if it was possible to show other people a town in a new light, in a way that I wouldn’t feel bad about. Why was I falling back on easy?
I’ve been shooting at night for a couple of years now, long before this most recent project. Night shooting is not something that comes from my past. It’s not something that comes from any idea of who I should be and what I should be doing. It truly is this fascination I have for exploring a hidden world.
And I think this hidden world was what I wanted to show people that live here. Your town is full of town artifacts we haven’t really looked at.
But I don’t seek to show you something that you’ve seen already. I wish to transform what you’re usually used to seeing into something new. Because that was the journey that I needed to take for myself.
In life we often get stuck in roots, we get rooted in the past and our past beliefs, we get attached to the idea of who we are and it prevents us from living in the present, from being present and seeing things new. We get stuck in our own perceptions and into the belief that how we perceive the world is not only correct but is the only way to see the world.
We discovered Sal’s by shopping at another grocery store for meat. Someone came up to us and said you should go to Sal’s. A friend of mine used to work there as a kid. Strikes me as the kind of place that people who have lived in Ajax for a long time know about.
Sal’s reminds me of that Stephen King novel, 11/22/63 where the restaurant owner that discovered a portal to the past a couple of years before Kennedy was shot was able to step into the past and buy meat at sixties prices and bring it into the present to sell much cheaper than his competitors.
Sal’s is another one of these places who feels like it’s says are numbered simply because it’s located in a strip mall. It’s like the complicated way you feel about someone who hasn’t got much time left.
I have a thing for wide-angle lens and brooding skies. I often look up at the sky and watch the clouds and light. I remember two instances in particular that I caught on my iPhone.
One was when the skies became very dark. You know the kind. When the day light takes on a strange greenish cast of foreboding. I stood out in the middle of my suburban street, and a hole of light opened up right over top of where I was standing in the center of the threatening skies. No one else was around. I stood there looking up in wonder as the gods, or aliens, or the mysterious miracle of the universe itself had decided to open up just for me. And I stood there in wonder under the light, in a kind of giddiness, wishing I could share the miracle of it with someone.
The other time was the morning after Halloween. We tend to go all out on Halloween with sound effects or music, stuffed bodies, sometimes film, and the smoke machine back-lit with blue light. We put out a bowl of candy with a sign on it that says, “Take two, we are watching!” There’s a piece of masonite that leans on the tree by the street with a big eye on it. More recently we have ghost heads hanging from a line floating the breeze. Sometimes parents need to talk their small child into approaching the house.
Then he and I go out with a mug full of something or other unnaturally warming, me dressed up in something I couldn’t get a way with ordinarily, and him in his ordinary self keeping an arm out to steady me in my heels and we go for a walk, sometimes with children running from house to house, and sometimes just us pretending that our children are somewhere near by. It’s been on two Halloween’s, I kid you not, that I have dropped and smashed my iPhone. Something about it seems especially slippery like a bar of soap on Halloween, out it goes in an arc to its collision to the ground.
One year one of my kids made an especially bloody mess of the pumpkin complete with a knife and some kind of red syrupy stuff, both humorous and somewhat alarming at the same time.
November 1st is All Saints Day. It was a morning after Halloween in that early November day was unnaturally warm and windy and the skies were dramatic with light and dark and movement as if to create an effect of blowing out the evils from the night before over the roof of my house. The skies, a vehicle, an instrument of the universe, might have messages for us.