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Weather Report 

Thanks to the Ontario Arts Council Project Grant, which I had received in 2003, I was able to create my series about the weather. From May 2003 to May 2004, I took several photographs of the same place in various seasons, various times of a day and various weather conditions.

Since I have moved from Toronto to the country, near Moscow, Ontario, I have been amazed with the constantly changing weather and how it affects the look of landscape.
In the countryside the weather seems much more powerful than when you are in the city. First of all it affects your every-day life much more. It really matters if we had a heavy snow fall last night or if it was raining or not. Your work depends on the weather, your crops depend on it and most of your plans must be adjusted to it. So living in the country, you look at the weather with much more attention and much more awe than in the city. Another factor is the open space. The tall buildings do not obstruct the view of the sky and the horizon, you are able to look around at the open fields, instead of just looking down the street, you are not getting distracted by the crowd of people, cars, commercial banners, shop windows, etc.. In such conditions, the lines and shapes look different and it is much easier to observe how the weather influences them and how it brings different colours to the sky and earth.(Photo below: Weather Report exhibition in Blue Mountain Arts Center in Collingwood, ON, Canada)
It was also interesting to imagine how this particular view looked even a few months ago. During the summer looking at the green grass and flowers was easy to forget that in the winter the entire landscape was filled with a lot of snow. Photographs of the same place when put side by side can recall that memory and also be an instant revelation – oh, yes now I remember, it was cold and windy and we did not see any green for so long. This is the unique opportunity, which only photography gives, to look at the same place in different moments.

To create the Weather Report I needed a camera which would always remain in precisely the same spot, and it had to be protected from the elements. Also, sometimes I needed to use long exposure time when staying outside for long would not be so pleasant, like during cloudy, rainy days or in the winter night. This is why I needed a walk-in camera, which would be also a comfortable shelter and I could take photographs being locked inside. These factors, combined with my fascination with pre-photographic devices, brought me to building the Camera Obscura. It was about 6x6x10 feet large, perfectly light-tight, with simple heating and ventilation systems and even with a CD player and comfortable bench. Inside I had a “view finder”, which was a lens built into the wall with a projection glass, showing the circular image. The lens used for taking photographs was placed horizontally in the roof, with a first surface mirror placed at 45 degree angle above the lens. I would open the special door by tugging on the pulley just before taking a shot. I had to add a hair-dryer to this enclosure, since the mirror would fog up on cold or moist days.

Photographs are circular, which is the effect of including the whole image created by the lens on the film. I used 8x10 colour transparencies and 4x5 lens. The titles for the photographs include the date, the hour and the meteorological description: the temperature, the wind strength and direction, the pressure, the humidity and the visibility. These titles are very important, they constitute integral part of the project, this is why at the show each title is printed directly under the photograph, on the same sheet.

The place I photographed was my house and garden near small hamlet of Moscow, Ontario, with the road running from Moscow to Bellrock, and the neighbouring fields. I deliberately chose the frame enclosing the view of the ground and the sky – half and half, with horizon in the middle – which was the best to show the changing weather in full splendour. Also purposefully I composed all other elements of the frame. I made sure to have there a deciduous tree and a conifer, some fields and some flower beds, some open space on the left and the house on the right-hand side. Thanks to this composition I could best picture how the weather affects various elements of my environment. I attempted to capture all the seasons and every kind of weather: the sunny weather, the rain, the fog, the snow. I also tried to capture various times of day in each season, the first rays of the sun, the noon, the last rays of the sun and the full-moon night. It was not so simple, because I could not waste precious 8x10 transparencies, so each photograph I could take only once. I developed them myself, using a device which I had also built myself.                                            

The camera I built for Weather Report was not my only Camera Obscura. I have built several of those devices, smaller and bigger and I have been using them for many various purposes. For example, I built a mobile, trailer, walk-in Camera Obscura (pictures below) which I have been using for my workshops for schools. I was giving one week Camera Obscura and Pinhole Photography Workshops for public schools from the year 2000 until 2012. This workshop was sponsored by Ontario Arts Council grant Artists in Education.
 

(Images above: Mobile Camera Obscura from outside and inside)

Weather Report has been presented in several exhibitions in Canada, USA and Europe. You may find the list below or in the News section of this website.

Artist statement for Weather Report in PDF format

PDF list of Weather Report exhibitions

Created with support from: