Tickling Salmon

Making and Selling Photographic Fine Art in Vancouver

Every Step Larger Than the One Before

I just finished re-watching Moulin Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrman. The movie is amazing, but that’s not the amazing thing. What is astonishing is the sequence of films he has made, and how each one is so much more ambitious and impressive than the one before. It starts with Strictly Ballroom, a movie about a ballroom dancer who want to invent new moves and must overcome the fears of his parents and dance partners. It’s a good, and I recommend it highly. And it’s a simple movie; there are probably less than a dozen locations and it has an unmistakable low-budget feeling. Then comes Romeo and Juliet. Big stars, big budget, and very stylized. You can see in this movie what he was trying to do in the first, but couldn’t afford. And then he blows the top off in Moulin Rouge. Bigger stars, bigger budgets, and some of the most amazing choreography you’ll see this decade. I don’t know what Baz Luhrman is doing between films, but he’s clearly not just sitting around resting on his laurels.

And then there is the photographer David Burdeny. His first series Shorelines was black & white long-exposure images of shorelines. Very peaceful, very beautiful. Next, he creates North/South, in which he photographs icebergs. His basic compositional rules are the same (strong horizon, single centred subject), but it’s harder to make icebergs interesting… and he does so. In Sacred and Secular he returns to long exposures, but this time in colour — a much greater technical challenge than black & white.

How about music? Take the Barenaked Ladies. Their playful attitude continues from album to album, but the complexity of their music grows… and they take experimental risks like Spider in My Room, which I don’t particularly like but which I admire them for doing. I compare this with bands like Indigo Girls. As much as I like the duo, I find their music doesn’t change much from album to album; it’s missing the sense of progression that the Barenaked Ladies have.

So what about your art? Do you work in distinct series (“albums”, so to speak), or do you simply have an undifferentiated series of images? And as you look at your work from different times do you have a clear sense of your trajectory, and can you see the size of the steps that you are taking?

Posted August 6th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Revised August 20th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

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