– Mark E. Smith

Here we have the convenience store attached to the no-name gas station at Queen and Carlaw. As recently as five years ago, Queen St. was overrun with gas stations and car lots and auto-body shops. I see now this one is undergoing a change. On paper, I was in the right place at the right time to snap this photograph.

A-frame sign over convenience store is nothing but vertical grey boards

A dull-grey plain sign under the horrifically oppressive dull-grey skies of a Toronto winter. Exactly the wrong kind of photo to rush to publish. I have sat on this one for some weeks. I see why now.

Square-on, centred, airless, anomic, despairing photographs of ruinous architecture and of absences are, I realize, harmful not artful. I came to understand this when I began to reject Modernist architecture – for houses in the city, at least. I understand why I’ve barely been able to glance at a photo by Burtynsky and have never had the slightest interest in watching a full-length documentary showing hours of same.

Like everyone else, hits on my photos have decimated in the Aughties. They’ve nearly done the same again in the last two years. With no viewers to speak of, there is now almost no reason to publish a photograph; as a rationale, “self-expression” goes only so far when exhibiting into a vacuum. When what you’re shooting is no better than a vacuum, the jig really is up. Life-sapping pictures of antisocial nothing that will leave you feeling worse are a genre that needs to be put to rest.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.02.04 16:31. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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