Sound Garden and Other Fun
July 17, 2015
We are sound and we are light. We participate with these senses and the natural world, a world that we can’t really just observe as we are both the observer and observed. So let’s not worry about observing our world, but rather opening our senses to a full and beautiful participation with our world, with nature, as a part of it all. Then we enter a consciousness where everything flows and connects and intermingles in both space and time.
In June 2015 I was fortunate enough to host an installation in a forested creek zone located on the Sunshine Coast. This natural amphitetheatre provided a space to augment and enhance with visuals and sound. Collaborating with Giorgio Magnanensi (sound wizard!), we invited people to participate in a sort of other worldly space we created with 4 projectors and embedded audio throughout the forest. It was an incredibly enriching and fun couple of evenings and surely we will have more shows in Fall. Thanks to the BC Arts Council for supporting the project.
Here’s what some people had to say about it:
Quite simply, the soundgarden was magical. Giorgio and Nick animated a familiar moon-kissed forest stream nook into a hallucinatory theatre of perception. Carefully choreographed, immersive, interactive, contemplative, and generous, the work playfully encouraged us to unexpected places. What more can one ask of a work of art?
We attended an event by Giorgio Magnanensi with Nicolas Teichrob called “Sound Garden” and would like to extend our appreciation for this taking place. As Sunshine Coast residents and professional artists it was most inspiring to be taken away from the Bricks and Mortar approach to art expression and be transported into a wonderfully selected and orchestrated location where the experience of the musical and visual art was seamlessly intertwined with the amazing canvas that nature provided.
The benefits to the Sunshine Coast for this type of weekend event are varied and many, but for us specifically, it is assurance that interesting contemporary expression of the arts is being demonstrated at a very high level. This event breathes life into all aspects of creative expressions on the Sunshine Coast, promotes exploration, demonstrates positive creative leadership and fosters better understanding of why we live and culturally develop here on the West Coast. “Sound Garden” also has the Cool Factor that will be talked about off the coast and around the world…in fact, we were just sharing the experience along with pictures with family and friends in Europe, and this makes us look like we live in a culturally rich and developing environment.
Thank you for helping realize this, and we very much hope this event format may be considered for future years, as it is sure to be a continued success.
Lee and Bon Roberts – Goldmoss Gallery
Create and be happy.
The Electric Blue World of Antarctica
April 7, 2014
In November of 2013 I was fortunate to head to Antarctica on a One Ocean expedition. This trip was through a generous prize donated by One Oceans, given to STAND for winning Best Film at the 2013 Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films. Anthony and I both went on the trip and it was really an experience that is barely describable. I communicate emotions, thoughts, feelings through my art, and using the camera as a tool, I focused on the rich colours of the frozen continent. Although other colours occasional presented themselves (for a future post on oranges and reds), blue and every imaginable and unimaginable tone and vibrance of blue is in existence in Antarctica.
I present The Electric Blue World
Kauai – a photographic journey
April 2, 2014
Over the Christmas period of 2012/2013 I spent a few weeks on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and it’s geology and landforms reflect the time it has been exposed to the erosive forces of nature. Steep spines and gullied mountain ridges, gigantic and lush vegetation and beautiful waves. One really cool unexpected thing happened in an equipment accident that I continue to use as a tool ever since. Here is a snapshot of my visit.
A Failure of Reason
July 20, 2013
A dead eagle on a stream bed in the Great Bear Rainforest. Power.
A couple of months ago a new magazine started. I got word of it early on and knew I wanted to be involved. It’s called Mountain Life Annual is published by the same rad people behind Mountain Life Coast Mountains, but with a jump into a new league. MLA has a select number of partners, companies that get the rights to have one ad in the magazine, or book as it is more appropriately referred to. Leslie Anthony is at the helm of the editing and he is about as good or better than anyone for the role. Expect big things from this annual book. Fortunately for me, in the first issue (currently at the printers), there is an article about the opponents to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – tanker route, and included in these colourful characters is Norm Hann. Norm was the star of STAND film, and as such I had a plethora of beautiful and often alternative type imagery that usually would find no home. Mountain Life Annual gave them a home. In this article four of my favourite images are shared as spreads, along with a few spots. Check out this mag when it comes out, because if this is an indication on the quality, then it is going to be premium coffee table fodder.
STAND world premiere, articles, and vacation
May 28, 2013
In a form I keep trying to break, I’m finally writing a blog post two months after my last one. I keep saying to myself and others that I will try to write and share more, but sometimes work and play get in the way of me and my blog. But alas, here I am again to spill out some of the most exciting things that have been happening in my world of photography and film over the past 2 months.
For the month of April I pretty much lived in my office, starring at a computer screen and a final cut timeline that seemed endless. Segment after segment, edit after edit, slowly STAND film was cracked away during the final stages. Sound design, colour correction, DVD design, poster design, articles, magazines, promo images, blog posts, festivals, world premieres, sponsors, new sponsors, logistics, logistics, logistics. That is what the month looked like, plus about 1000 other things that I couldn’t keep out of my brain; things to do or unique ideas or future trip planning. But after all the chaos of finishing a full film to a level I was proud of, we had the world premiere of STAND in Vancouver, BC, on Friday May 3. The venue was packed, 400 people strong, focusing their eyes and ears on what Anthony and I had dedicated the last two years of our lives to. It was the big test, and we passed with flying colours. The projection system was incredible, loaned to us graciously by Sim Digital (thankyou greatly Max and Jon!), and it pumped a massive 10,000 lumen 1920×1080 image onto a 24 foot wide screen. The event went off and I look back at that evening with such fond memories. My whole family was there, Anthony’s parents from Australia were there and Norm’s family from Ontario was there. Mike and Lucy McQuade traveled down from Haida Gwaii, Chris and Kara Williamson traveled down from Kelowna, and friends came from Whistler and Revelstoke for the show. A full recap with images can be seen on STAND’s blog. Following the premiere we had shows in Victoria and Tofino, and then it was vacation for me. I surfed a bunch in Tofino, then when up island to a bike-surf mission with some bros and we hunkered down on BC’s coast for a week of rain, wind, wolves, bears, sea lions, fish, and some slabs. What we found was a miniature gem, but most importantly it opened the doors to future exploration and adventure.
Upon arriving back in civilization and seeing that our province had voted Christy Clark back into power as premier, and with a majority, I was crushed. The fight for our coast continues harder than ever now, and I’ve seen even more to keep the fuel lit forever. The day I got home we hosted the Roberts Creek Film Festival, part of the Arts Festival and showed STAND twice to two packed and engaged crowds. The day that event ended I finally took a breath and could sit down and gather my bearings. Work is busy as always which is good but tiring at times. I know it will slow down, but certain things always need to be maintained when running your own business and those things do not go on vacation when you do. Fortunately I have a good group of friends and family that pick up the slack when I am away.
In some greater news of magazine publications, I’m stoked to share a recent article that ran in SBC Surf magazine’s current issue. Thanks to Ikelite Underwater housings for keeping my camera dry and allowing me to make pictures like the one in this article of legend Raph Bruhwiler surfing.
All photos are by me and words by Norm Hann. If you ever want to see the Great Bear Rainforest, or learn how to SUP, do it with Norm. The guy is legendary and knows the north coast so so so well.
Projection imagery – taking my photographs into a new dimension
February 20, 2013
Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to pen and photograph a feature for the current issue of Mountain Life magazine. Mountain Life is a west coast culture magazine, which I have worked with for many many years. The first feature I ever penned was with them (on a surf exploration – camp trip), and I continue to enjoy working with their team. The current issue is ‘the Photography Issue’, so it is ideally the best issue to ink a feature in as a photographer. I think the editor (Feet Banks) and I went back and forth a good five plus times to get this piece how we wanted it, but in the end it flows with two narratives, both helping explain the mindful thought behind these pictures. Here is the piece:
Table of Contents - Raph Bruhwiler, Vancouver Island, BC - Ikelite/Stand Film
Photography is magic. Certainly there is a science behind it, and a history – photographic experiments with pinhole cameras date back to the fourth and fifth centuries – but the way a photo freezes time forever, all the ideas and premeditation of the photographer coming to fruition with the pressing of a shutter button… to me, that’s magic. And the great thing about magic, just when you begin to understand how it works, there’s always a new trick waiting in the shadows.
* * *
A creek flows through my backyard, it inspires me at unexpected times and has been the subject of more than a few off-season photo experiments. The creek helps me slow down and think. This past autumn as the forest filled in with rich colours and my workload conveniently dried up to a trickle I revisited an idea I had been rattling around for a while. The only reason I hadn’t tried it yet was simply that I hadn’t tried it yet, and that’s a pretty bad reason. I grabbed a digital projector and a headlamp and headed for the creek.
* * *
As photographers we twist dials and turn knobs to capture light, colour, shape –things we can never grasp with our bare hands alone. By changing the composition and framing, focal length and exposure the photograph, and resultantly what is portrayed, will also change. No two images will ever be the same yet each is able to provoke ideas in a viewer that may not have otherwise existed.
Whether it is slide film chemically recording actual particles of light or a modern digital CCD (charge-coupled device) converting those incoming photons to electron charges, one concept of photography has remained constant: to represent and share the three-dimensional world in two dimensions. But viewing a 2D representation of the 3D world has never felt fully satisfying to me and I’ve been trying to find that lost dimension for a while now. I think I found it in the woods down by the creek in my own backyard.
* * *
It took four electrical cords linked to cover the 50 metres across my yard, down the bush, over a calm section of the creek and into my first projection site. There are few scenes darker than a moonless November night in BC but I managed to stumble-haul my loose kit of a projector, laptop, tripods, and camera through the forest – and only once slipped on the old 20cm–wide “bridge.” Even with power cables plugged in and devices connected, I wasn’t overly optimistic about the idea of re-shooting my own photos projected onto logs, leaves, trees and rocks. A lot of things can easily go wrong. Is this a waste of time? Is it stupid? If this was cool wouldn’t someone have already done it? Should I just go back inside and avoid the bear that is probably lingering nearby? The creek answered me by continuing to gurgle along as it always did, blanketing all other thoughts in blissful white noise.
I got back to work.
* * *
For me, conventional photography consists of three major steps: premeditation of the image to be captured, the actual image capture, and post-production/editing. The end result of an image is limited solely by the imagination of the photographer. With the photos in this series I wanted to divert the process partway through and re-combine my raw images with the beautiful environments that surround and inspire my work. Each photograph starts as an original digital image I’ve previously shot. These images are then projected onto carefully selected surfaces that complement or enhance some element of the original photograph.
There are no computer tricks at work here; it’s pure photography. The goal of this work is to expand our collective concept of photographic representation, and to engage audiences to stare and interpret, guess and question, to be confused and understand, to look again and to think beyond what they initially see. By deleting preconceived notions and allowing thoughts to flow freely through the mind, we open the door to pure creativity. This is how the first images began 1600 years ago and how new ideas will continue to develop and broaden the photographic horizons.
* * *
I almost knocked everything into the water at least twice, stumbling around the dark edges of the brush trying to shine a light on the third dimension. But from those first images projected onto a pocket of ferns I realized I’d found something at least, a seam to be further explored. Many images didn’t work, time flowed past without notice, but then a photo would land on the ferns and just pop out at me and reinvigorate the process. This began as a “why not?” idea but as things began to click I found new purpose with every projection and every shot. One of my favourite things about shooting photographs is when I surprise myself. That happened, then it happened again, and again.
* * *
I’ve been down to the creek a half dozen times since that night, even set up a tarp to be able to shoot in the relentless winter rain. I think about images differently now. No matter what I shoot I find myself looking for those elements of depth and ways I can lift the third dimension to the surface.
Photography is science: chemicals on a metal plate or digital pixels on a screen. But that science is an arena for creativity, one pushing the other until both evolve into something unique. Art, creativity, photography, magic…
These days, it’s all going off at the creek down in the woods in my backyard but I imagine you can find it almost anywhere if you aren’t afraid to look.
I am very excited by this adventure into a new avenue of visual representation and look forward to future endevours that will lead me and my photography in ways I cannot currently imagine. There will be some really cool work being done along these realms right here in Roberts Creek, with a collective of individual wizards I’ve come to known…stayed tuned for more details in Spring.
STAND teaser, open your eyes and ears to the Great Bear Rainforest
November 20, 2012
A quick little update with STAND teaser that we just completed. More collaborations with the final output than ever before and we are super stoked. To join the team, head over to http://indiegogo.com/standfilm to contribute. Defend our coast, no tankers, clean oceans for all.
The archipelago of Haida Gwaii
August 27, 2012
In June 2012, I spent nearly two weeks traveling through Haida Gwaii, B.C., on a sailboat. This was my first time on a sailboat and it would be for a solid 10 days straight, so I was hoping we would hit some good weather along the way. I think if i were to describe my experiences in Haida Gwaii, it would take way too long for anyone to read. I’ll save those written words for something more editorially appropriate, and provide most of my story telling in the form of images. I like telling stories in various ways, but at the fundamentally simplest level, photographs remain my trump card. Photos are timeless pieces, capturing a bit of history. History that will never be repeated exactly.
The totem poles throughout the watchman sites in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve are such incredible things to be amongst. These ancient cedars saw 10,000 year old rich and complicate culture of the Haida people in its peak. Complex class systems with rules and regulations and a deep appreciation and respect for art and creativity. With the arrival of Europeans, collapse of the First Nations people was quick via diseases that their immune systems had no way of fighting. An estimated 95% of the Haida people perished from illnesses such as small pox. Cultural genocide was attempted by the government at the time, but the Haida stood strong, albeit in small numbers, and now their culture is on the rise again.
The ocean provides so much. More than anything for me, it provides a place of solace. Without a doubt, the single best place for me to retreat to in times of mental mazes and chaos, is the ocean. A coastal rainforest is the next best substitute. Sea lions and sunstars shared a majestic glassy day on Hecate Strait with Norm Hann, slicing his way through the calmest waters I can imagine. It was a real treat to have this special day where Norm paddled from Burnaby Narrows all the way to SGang Gwaay, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (pictured below in evening light). In typical coastal fashion, the next day the winds were howling at 56 knots, thats 100 km/h. Do we really want super tankers traveling in seas with 100 km/h winds? Nope.
A rather nice way to end our film shoot in the most logistically difficult shoot of our lives to date, with evening light on the massive onlooking totems of SGang Gwaay.
An evening to remember
May 6, 2012
This evening was one to remember. All day it had been nice out. We got a bunch of gardening done, had a long bike ride, had a swim and were cooking dinner on a fire at the beach. We were cruising and so were the low lying clouds which we noticed were disappearing. As the moon rose, it did so nearly right at sunset and the colours that it picked up were incredible. Heather didn’t even see the moon at first because it looked so odd, and I was scrambling down to the beach with gear in hand.
It is incredible the detail we can see in the the moon. So many craters and features like the massive crater on the bottom right of moon in frame.
The photos do the rest. shot at 300mm with a 1.5x crop (450mm eq.).
Good to be home at one the beach.
Golden evening on the west coast.
The ocean is increasingly my lifeblood. Maybe it’s because I continue to spend more time wrapped in a rubber suit than in the past, but it has become the natural progression of myself. I live a few hundred steps from the beach although surf in this area is rare and tiny. Despite this, I often find myself sitting on some logs watching little mouse and cat barrels peel off the point for hours on end. There is always so much activity going on in the water whether it be waves, birds, mammals, or boats, many things are always happening. When I need a little quiet time away, I’ll wander down the beach along the high tide line, keeping an eye out for unique pieces of wood to take home and put in my stash of ‘cool wood to work with in the future’ pile. I’ve scrounged like this for years, but only in the past few did I really begin to tune into the other elements along the tide line – plastics.
100m of beach in waters that appear crystal clear and clean still yield plastic constantly. This is from one high tide.
When one spends so much time near the water, the evidence of daily plastics washing up on our beaches hits you square in the face. Inspired by a friend of ours, Taina, a number of years ago we began consciously being very aware of our plastics consumption and cutting down on anything that wasn’t necessary, and most isn’t. There is often the misconception that we as humans, citizens of Planet Earth can do nothing to stop the shit storm of destruction and waste that we currently have set in place. The ozone holes are opening, the oceans are filling with plastics and our streams are being polluted for the sake of big business. No, we cannot change some of that larger scale stuff by ourselves, but when you take a moment to think about it, many of those ‘big’ problems have ‘small’ beginnings. It is our job to care for this planet in order to maintain human species survival, as not only to save the animals and the trees, but to save ourselves. As critical habitats and species on Earth die off due to human pressure, so will we. We’ve managed to rape and pillage the land and sea at such an astonishing rate in the past 100 years, that we almost do not know where to begin to cut back. Well here are some things that are dirt simple to cut back on or stop using completely. Change starts small and grows big, everyone needs to do their part and fundamental societal change will follow. It has to.
1) Straws – do not use a straw. If you go to a store or bar or restaurant, either do not take a straw or make sure to ask your waiter or bartender not to put a straw in your cup. We are not 2 year olds who do not know how to drink out of glass. Straws are a massive waste of one-time use plastic and can easily be eliminated.
2) Plastic bags – like straws, there is absolutely no reason nor excuse with the knowledge we have today, to use plastic bags. Buy a few cloth bags (most people already have a lot) and remember to take them when you go grocery shopping, get beers, or whatever you may purchase that gets shoved in a plastic bag only to be pulled out as soon as you get home. The age-old argument of ‘I re-use my plastic bags’ doesn’t fly anymore, as it is better to not use in the first place and we all know that. We all forget from time to time to take bags to the store or we need some food on the fly, and for those cases, simply ask for paper bags or don’t use any bags at all….after all, most things are already packaged. Simple, easy.
Canadian night barrel.
3) Bottled water – unless you live in a 2nd or 3rd world country where potable water from the tap doesn’t exist, leaves those bottles on the shelf. If nobody buys them, producers will stop making them. Many areas have better tap water than what is in the bottles (and some bottled water is tap water), and the usage of plastic to hold that water is absurd. 10 years ago when one would go to a business meeting or out for lunch, it was a common status simple to be drinking a bottle of water alongside your chic suit and tie; however, now, when we know the destruction plastic does to the environment, consuming water from a bottle is frowned upon as it should be. Don’t be the douche who orders bottled water.
There used to be massive trees full of knowledge and history. Now there are only stumps and spindly trees
4) Paper napkins – Mitchell Scott wrote a piece that involved napkins a while back in KMC magazine, and I think he nailed it. Napkins and kleenexes are made of wood, wood comes from trees, and trees are essential to consuming the CO2 in our air and transforming it into energy making themselves grow to only consume more CO2. So why are we cutting these wonders down in order to whip our greasy hands on them once and toss them into the garbage? When I was a kid, my dad rocked a hankie all the time. I thought nothing of it, it was just what everyone did. Nowadays, the hankie has gone the way of the Dodo bird, but why? Image? It is now cool to be aware, informed, and intentional with your environmental actions, so ditch those paper napkins, don’t buy them, don’t take them, don’t use them, and pick yourself up a hankie. Use, re-use, re-use, and when dirty enough, toss it in your washing machine alongside your clothes.
5) Everything else that is one-time use and plastic based (milk jugs, yogurt containers, bulk bags, garbage bags, excessive packaging, cigar tips, among a few thing) – no matter what you are buying, invariably you will have a choice of packaging options, and simply being aware and conscious of your day to day decision making, will make a big difference.
Enjoy nature and the ocean in their clean and pristine conditions and lets all work together to help keep things that way.
Andy ripping a wave well past last light. Solo.