In Toronto, concrete pillars become trees in a topsy-turvy photo-install job.
By Angela Prues
"The idea for the Gardiner project," she says, "came up because we moved our offices in March 2007 to a space on Spadina Avenue at King. Traffic trying to get on the Gardiner backs up for three hours twice a day-once in the morning on the way into the city and again on the way out. I saw this parking lot of cars lined up as far as Queen Street as a perfect audience and wanted to give them something to think about for their commute home."
And, adds McInnes, "The Gardiner is a particularly controversial subject in the city because it acts like a barrier between the natural environment of Lake Ontario and the urban environment of the city."
A concrete solution
Which is how Graham’s tree photographs came to be installed on pillars supporting one of the city’s busiest highways.
Vancouver artist Rodney Graham has been creating inverted tree photographs since the early 1980s. His tree images, displayed at galleries and museums around the world, are typically photographed with a conventional field camera, then simply installed upside down.
McInnes and Contact selected 25 feature exhibits for its more traditional venues, but also selected eight invitation-only artists for public installations. Fifteen of Graham’s "tree portraits"-originally taken between 1980 and the present day-were selected to adorn the Gardiner pillars.
But how to install the images once output? Initially, McInnes envisioned banners that were simply stretched around the pillars, somehow mechanically attached. But due to stringent laws when it comes to drilling and bolting support cables to the expressway overpass, that idea was hastily dropped.
For a solution, she turned to Beyond Digital Imaging (BDI, www.bdimaging.com), which had served as the festival’s official print provider and sponsor for the past four years. The 65-employee shop operates from an 80,000-square-foot facility in Toronto, specializing in print jobs for retailers, corporations, advertising agencies, trade shows, and event graphics, as well as sign shops and print brokers. Its print arsenal includes more than a half-dozen large HP solvent and UV machines, as well as a 3M Scotchprint printer, a Mimaki dye-sub printer, and smaller HP, Xerox, and Gerber specialty machines. Its finishing toolbox includes laminators, liquid coaters, a heat press, two dye-sub rollers, an i-Cut, a welder, and a CNC router.