Scott McFarland Duration Photographs
Works in the exhibition
Division Gallery is pleased to present a new exhibition by Toronto-based photographer, Scott McFarland. This is the artist’s debut exhibition with the gallery and his first solo show in Canada since Snow, Shacks, Streets, Shrubs, a major survey presented by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 2014.
Scott McFarland transcends traditional photography’s notions of a single, definitive exposure, producing complex, patiently assembled pictures that resist classification solely as photographs. Comprised of images captured on 4 x 5 film and later scanned and combined in Photoshop, McFarland’s pictures cast a wide temporal net, capturing days, weeks or months worth of what Henri Cartier-Bresson described as “decisive moments” and assembling them into what the artist refers to as the “super moment” – that is, a single image comprised as a gestalt. The pictures he produces become hybrids – dense, seamless collages whose artifice, like that of the gardens, zoos, and cottages he depicts, is its own vivid reality.
Vintage Lighting, for instance, comprises dozens of negatives, its densely clustered lamps too complex to describe in a single exposure. As is typical in McFarland’s pictures, the subject of the piece – in this case light – is a metaphor for the photographic process and for tungsten lighting’s gradual replacement by high-efficiency LEDs. McFarland has documented the obsolescence of old photographic technologies in past work, notably in his Laboratory series (2002) and more recently the Street View Labs series (2014) of moribund photo labs. In Vintage Lighting he perforates the surface of his photo, allowing us to see beyond the nostalgic warmth of the antique constellation to the cool LEDs powering his light-box. Pixels, bulbs, and diodes merge in homage to the technologies of photography and light.
Much of this exhibition is comprised of popular tourist destinations such as New Orleans and the Bahamas. At first glance, the artist’s new work set in Nassau gleams with postcard perfection, its irrepressible aquas and beachside views clichés of balmy repose. On closer inspection, a shuttered resort with its pitted pools and water damage looks like a remnant of a once-prosperous civilization. Like the New Orleans work, with its post-Katrina dereliction, the landscapes tell of neglect, of touristic Meccas fallen fallow.
New works, including Shattered Glass, revisit an earlier concept McFarland was among the first to explore in the piece Cabin with Motion Light (2001): the durational photograph. In Shattered Glass, he captures with the same DLSR camera both photographs and video of the view through a broken window, juxtaposing the two mediums in a single installation comprised of an LED light box for the still, and a 4K LED screen for the video. The video screen, narrow relative to McFarland’s photo, traces the gradual pan of the camera across a rustic vista, mimicking the fragmented montage employed in his stills. Fractured temporality is reinforced by the webbed glass through which his camera records the scene, suggesting at once the camera’s lens, its pixels, and the mosaic-like assemblage by which the piece itself was made.
Scott McFarland lives and works in Toronto. His work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2014), the National Gallery of Canada (2009) and The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2012). His works are also included in numerous prestigious collections such as the Walker Art Center, SFMoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Canada.