Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Q&A: Scott McFarland's Digital Gardens

Even though he recently moved to Toronto, Scott McFarland is still widely known as one of the major second-generation Vancouver photographers, that group that has emerged after Jeff Wall and Roy Arden as a force to be reckoned with. It's interesting because in many ways McFarland's images--usually of gardens--seem quite placid at first. But they can pack their own kind of conceptual punch by drawing on the process of gardening to create an image. With a show just opened at the National Gallery of Canada, I got a chance to talk with him over the phone. Today the National Post ran our interview. Here's an excerpt:

Q Is that montage process almost like gardening itself, would you say? Weeding out images you don't like, keeping some others?

A I think that, in some ways, gardens do function as a metaphor for the process. I think about gardening techniques and their relationships not just to taking pictures but developing and processing the final prints. Each body of work I do incorporates different digital techniques quite specific to the ways the gardens are constructed. Going back to Empire, I was fascinated how the Huntington garden designer took succulent plants from areas all across the world--Africa, Australia, South America, the Southwestern [United States] --and assembled them into seamless compositions, so that you didn't feel that these cacti were from different regions of the globe. I thought when I was taking these pictures and putting them together I was doing a very similar thing, putting different times of day together in a way not discernible to the viewer.

Read on here for the full text. More images here at Monte Clark Gallery.

Image of McFarland's Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath, 2007 -- one of my favourites of his -- from Monte Clark Gallery

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