Scott McFarland

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Scott McFarland Sky Leaks

Works in the exhibition

Division Gallery is pleased to present Sky Leaks, a new exhibition by Toronto-based artist Scott McFarland. 

McFarland’s new body of work features thirteen cloud photographs, each of which contains anomalies unique to the mechanical and chemical process of analog photography. Aptly titled Sky Leaks, the series is based on the term ‘light leaks’, which refers to equipment defects that allow light to enter a camera and distort negatives with burnouts, shadows, colour casts and streaks. Dependent on various factors, such as outdated, pre-exposed or moisture-damaged film, these inconsistencies are generally regarded as defects. In Sky Leaks, McFarland embraces such inadvertent occurrences as a means to examine photographic notions of temporality and spatiality.

Imbuing his images with a sense of subjectivity, McFarland draws on the notion that photographs represent an instantaneous snapshot in time, or what Henri Cartier-Bresson refers to as a ‘decisive moment’. While the photographs in Sky Leaks appear to capture ephemeral moments, they also blur the boundaries between the mechanical elements of McFarland’s 4 x 5 large format camera and the chemical process of developing film. Clouds, light leaks and film effects merge into a temporal disorder, no longer recording an instant, but rather a broader, more complex representation of time. Lacking horizons to ground the pictorial plane, the cropped close-up shots of clouded skies lead the photographs to lose their indexical qualities of space and perspective.

Consistent with his composite images from past series such as Hampstead (2006) and Sans Souci (2010), McFarland employs landscape photographs to expose the aesthetic threshold between analog photography and digital technology. Rather than focusing on digital, post-photographic editing of images, Sky Leaks shifts McFarland’s attention to the alteration of images during the analog process. The resulting cloudscapes are obscured by vibrant strokes of light, speckled with ink, or soaked in thick bouts of liquid. Subtly backlit by LED lighting and mounted well above eye level, the intimate cloud portraits in this exhibition are rendered in a luminous, lifelike manner. An intriguing depiction of Georgian Bay skylines, McFarland’s Sky Leaks constructs an aesthetic system based on photographic idiosyncrasies.

Scott McFarland lives and works in Toronto. His work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His works are also included in numerous collections, most notably the Walker Art Center, SFMoMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.

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