Friday, October 23, 2009

Wide-Open Views: A Q&A with Eric Deis

Vancouver photographer Eric Deis does some really interesting wide-angle views of urban environments. In them, the human action is often dwarfed by human architecture, generating a sense of the context in which photographic scenes happen. I chatted with Deis about his work, which is showing at Elissa Cristall Gallery, earlier this week, and today the condensed Q&A was published in the National Post. Here's an excerpt:

Q Buildings seem really prominent in a lot of your images, dwarfing human activity. What's the interest there for you?

A Well, cameras are generally designed to focus on one subject, focusing and centering in a certain way. I'm trying to break down that relationship, to make both the foreground and the background the subject.

For instance, you might walk through a town in, say, France, and feel its history oozing from the walls and roadways. A picture of one building wouldn't capture that. But if you could capture one building and the next, and the space between them, that would get closer.

I'm interested in how a lot of Canadians visit Europe for the sense of history we feel in its cities. Canada, going back to First Nations, is just as old, but it seems we just like to demolish our old buildings or markers more quickly, and build up new stuff. Often our traces of history are only there for a brief moment. Sometimes I'll see something at a construction site, go home to grab my camera and come back to find that what I wanted to shoot is already gone.

Image of Eric Deis' Hipsters and Drug Dealer courtesy of the artist

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