This showing was hosted by the Hearth Gallery on Bowen Island, BC, May 28-June 12, 2022. A combination of sharp and wide moment photographs was displayed, along with a camera booth for automated long exposure photos of gallery visitors.
Street photography is a transgressive act that records people in their daily environment and historic period. But is it wrong to take photos of people without their knowledge or consent?
Unlike wildlife photography, candid pictures of humans make us consider the issue of privacy; what it means in the age of ubiquitous security cameras and data-hungry social media; what it means to ‘take’ a picture. When a stranger takes our photo it can feel invasive in the moment. But we often don’t compare that with the vast range of data we permit to be collected about us daily, online and in the streets, by faceless corporations and governments – nor the way that data is used.
This show is a product of that tension. As you look down the centre of the gallery, you’ll see a contrast between right and left. On your right are sharp portraits of people in conflict in public. Also, wide street scenes are peopled with portraits that were taken at different times, made simultaneous through composite editing. On your left are colourful abstractions of people, blurred in time, blended by the motion of the person and the photographer. These preserve anonymity, and have a much different effect but a beauty all their own.
All the portrayals are equally real, recorded using precision optics. But they each treat time differently, and the emergent aesthetics are very different as well.
The show includes a pop-up studio with a camera trap: walk in and a long-exposure photo is taken, appearing to smear you through time. Elsewhere a security camera follows you, providing that hint of suspense that surveillance brings. Other interactive elements help you feel as well as consider the dilemma of privacy versus art, which has changed my approach to photography over 45 years.