I love walking around in the quickly disappearing industrial and warehouse district near Main and Terminal in Vancouver. Condo developments are squeezing out old buildings that once housed clothing manufacturers, carpet wholesalers and an assortment of metal and woodworking shops. There is a city block of particularly dingy side roads and shipping bays that draws a lot of unmentionables and which has been the subject matter for a few of my images, including the one above.
Despite having walked some strange parts of town in various parts of the world, like in the outskirts of Queens, Bogota, or Mexico City, I rarely feel intimidated by the surroundings or by some of the unsavory types that tend to hang around the darker alleys and doorways. On the particular afternoon I took this photo, though, I felt a little concerned about two black-hooded men, one on the street corner obviously acting as a “look-out” and another standing in front of a dilapidated entrance-way into one of the shadier looking buildings. It looked straight out of a bad movie. Something just told me to stay away and I did, turning on my heels, at which point I saw this image on the opposite wall above some brush and discarded aerosol cans.
In my opinion, one of the finest and most influential photographers of the 20th century was the Japanese master of black-and-whites semi-surreals, Shoji Ueda
His canvases were the wonderful textures and lines of the dunes of the Sanin region of Shimane and his home prefecture of Tottori. His subjects included his wife and children, often nude, but he also played with hats and canes and country skies in a way that remind me strongly of the surreal work of Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali.
His use of angles and depth give the viewer the experience that his land is quite literally the end of the earth, a magical and lonely place where his nudes are truly alone, where his lines are untouched in the sand.
The images above are mine, images where the stark simplicity owe much to the likes of Ueda. The first three were taken in Kagoshima, the fourth is Tokyo and he final image is in Toronto, Ontario.
East Vancouver 2009
Minimalism meets simple shadows just off of Commercial Drive. One my favourites as it reminds me of how bright and sunny Vancouver can be on rare occasions.
Some of the best colours are in parking lots. This is probably the one and only picture I will ever take in Mississauga, Ontario. Not that I have anything against the place. It was taken killing time while waiting for a flight back to Japan after my sister’s wedding which was the highlight of a great summer.
I love urban minimalism. Western Europe was a great place for me to shoot as it has so many interesting buildings with splashes of detail, angles and lines from which shadows might ensue. Amsterdam, in particular, is a dream with all of the low buildings that offer great little details like this while still letting enough sunshine pass between them.