Feature

2014 MEDAL WINNER AARON MACDONALD, PHOTOGRAPHY

Aaron MacDonald at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Aaron MacDonald at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Sunset photo from Fixing a Hole by Aaron MacDonald.
Sunset photo from Fixing a Hole by Aaron MacDonald.

Aaron MacDonald’s medal award-winning video installation Fixing a Hole uses sunset photographs as a theme to subvert the desire of photographers to fix images to something over which we have no control: the passing of time. Here’s how he describes it:

Fixing a Hole is a video installation work that uses the ubiquitously photographed sunset as a theme to rearrange our relationship with a sublime landscape and our expectation of photographs to fix time. Sunset photographs found online are continuously cross dissolved and projected onto a large ground glass focusing screen, creating a fictive unfolding of light, time and colour within the installation space.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

There’s a sense of anxiety that comes along with specializing in photography as an artist, considering the volume of digital photographs currently being produced by everyone else in the world. I found inspiration in rejecting that anxiety by working with photographs instead of taking them. I wanted to find a way to open the sunset images’ dimensionality so the more sunsets I saw and collected the more I was driven to do so. I had this idea that the steady rate at which photos are being taken these days almost keeps pace with life.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

Balancing the immaterial elements of found digital photographs (light, time and colour) with carefully considered material choices (ground glass, wood, black suede) taught me a lot about working with photographs as formal entities that can exist beyond the surfaces of prints. Most of my previous work has been executed from behind a camera or in front of a computer, but to resolve this work I needed to spend a lot of time in the studios mulling over materials and configurations. Only then did I feel like I was getting anywhere, refracting the glaring beam of the sunset cliché by transforming it into something people might look at more closely.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?
I’m proud to be recognized for my multidisciplinary (and multidimensional) approach to photography using “mass produced” found photographs. I’m also proud of the looks of curiosity, wonder and smiles that appeared on people’s faces as they entered a room where warm “sunlight” emanated from my work. But more so I’m proud of the faces that twisted up and the arms that flung into the air as if to say, “This is nothing new!”

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

Startled, proud and grateful.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I will miss the long meditative hours spent making colour analog photo prints. I think it’s a very special thing that OCAD U is home to a traditional colour processing machine and technicians that keep it in great shape.

What are you planning to do next?

I’m doing a residency at a ceramics studio in the country for the summer. I’ll be doing a lot more work with my hands while thinking hard about and researching new photo-based projects.

Find out more about Aaron MacDonald

Video documentation of Fixing A Hole and previous works can be viewed at Cargo Collective.




Aaron MacDonald at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Sunset photo from Fixing a Hole by Aaron MacDonald.

Aaron MacDonald’s medal award-winning video installation Fixing a Hole uses sunset photographs as a theme to subvert the desire of photographers to fix images to something over which we have no control: the passing of time. Here’s how he describes it:

Fixing a Hole is a video installation work that uses the ubiquitously photographed sunset as a theme to rearrange our relationship with a sublime landscape and our expectation of photographs to fix time. Sunset photographs found online are continuously cross dissolved and projected onto a large ground glass focusing screen, creating a fictive unfolding of light, time and colour within the installation space.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

There’s a sense of anxiety that comes along with specializing in photography as an artist, considering the volume of digital photographs currently being produced by everyone else in the world. I found inspiration in rejecting that anxiety by working with photographs instead of taking them. I wanted to find a way to open the sunset images’ dimensionality so the more sunsets I saw and collected the more I was driven to do so. I had this idea that the steady rate at which photos are being taken these days almost keeps pace with life.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

Balancing the immaterial elements of found digital photographs (light, time and colour) with carefully considered material choices (ground glass, wood, black suede) taught me a lot about working with photographs as formal entities that can exist beyond the surfaces of prints. Most of my previous work has been executed from behind a camera or in front of a computer, but to resolve this work I needed to spend a lot of time in the studios mulling over materials and configurations. Only then did I feel like I was getting anywhere, refracting the glaring beam of the sunset cliché by transforming it into something people might look at more closely.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?
I’m proud to be recognized for my multidisciplinary (and multidimensional) approach to photography using “mass produced” found photographs. I’m also proud of the looks of curiosity, wonder and smiles that appeared on people’s faces as they entered a room where warm “sunlight” emanated from my work. But more so I’m proud of the faces that twisted up and the arms that flung into the air as if to say, “This is nothing new!”

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

Startled, proud and grateful.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I will miss the long meditative hours spent making colour analog photo prints. I think it’s a very special thing that OCAD U is home to a traditional colour processing machine and technicians that keep it in great shape.

What are you planning to do next?

I’m doing a residency at a ceramics studio in the country for the summer. I’ll be doing a lot more work with my hands while thinking hard about and researching new photo-based projects.

Find out more about Aaron MacDonald

Video documentation of Fixing A Hole and previous works can be viewed at Cargo Collective.