One of the principal motivations for the development of my photography was the desire to create fictional architectural spaces. The creation of specific real spaces was already a basic interest for me and directed much of my work as an installation artist. Influenced by early memories of large institutional and industrial buildings in Hamilton, Ontario these installations converted the gallery space into minimalist spaces reminiscent of interiors one might associate with the Second World War.
As an aid to planning these installations (often located in venues I could not visit) I began to make crude models of the exhibition space itself, and then to photograph my proposed changes. Surprisingly, though the models were fairly makeshift, photographic results were often quite convincing. What initially began as guide for exploring existing space, soon developed into an exercise in which space could be recreated at will.
The buildings that attracted my attention were the institutions of government or state with old-fashioned civic connotations. Buildings like the Post Office, Library, schools. Hospitals, movie theatres, hydro plants etc, all seemed to define an era, that by 1990 (with many buildings the victim of demolition) appeared to exist on the margins of collective memory. Lost Hamilton Landmarks was focused on one dominant characteristic of 20th C. architecture - the desire to re-shape society according to an ideological model. In the lead up to the Second world war and even afterward, architecture was public battle field of competing ideological systems, often played out at international expositions or world fairs. Ironically, Neo Classicsm was adopted as the representative style of state by each of the competing rivals with Albert Speer in Germany and Benito Mussolini being perhaps its two greatest exponents. But Neo-classicism was also the preferred style of Stalinist U.S.S.R. In the U.S. under Franklin Roosevelt, and in Canada, the official style became synonymous with the democratic model of Athenian Greece, but also with the notion of endurance and inherent strength of the democratic system. After WWII, Neo-classicism was effectively banned by Modernist architects formerly suppressed or persecuted by the Nazi regime.
I first presented the work in Hamilton (and other venues) along with fictional titles, as a document of historic Hamilton buildings. In fact none of the buildings existed, a detail overlooked by almost all viewers. (a phenomena I attributed to the perceived veracity of the photographic image in the pre-digital 1990’s, and to the authority of the institution.) And it could be that viewers simply preferred this fictional monumental view of Hamilton’s past.
At this time (early 90’s) all my models were hand built from common materials. The models were shot on 35mm B&W film with an inexpensive camera. The negatives were colour processed and machine printed in a variety of colours on 8x10 paper.