Want to see Montreal differently? Visit Montreal’s McCord Museum and view it through a pinhole. Guy Glorieux shows his beautiful images at the world premiere of Impressions of a City, Montreal Through a Pinhole, including the largest photograph ever installed at the McCord…
For the past 12 years, photographer Guy Glorieux has viewed the world through a pinhole camera. He’s made them out of matchboxes and paint cans and even large rooms. Glorieux pierces a tiny hole (about 1.5 mm in diameter) in one side of his ‘camera’, which allows the light to enter and imprint an image on the photographic paper he places at the back of the back. Everything is left untouched for an hour or two, sometimes four. Then he closes off the pinhole and develops the picture. I loved his images.
Unlike today’s digital Photoshopped perfection, Glorieux’ photographs are subtly mysterious. They transform Montreal’s boulevards and downtown concrete canyons into subtle surreal scenes. There is movement during the long periods of time that the photographic paper is exposed to light. People come and go.
However, because they move too quickly their presence is rarely registered on the photographic paper. The images are almost without any human presence. Guy Glorieux loves his ‘‘empty city scenes’’ in which a solid mass of crisply defined buildings sit against the “cloud” of trees, which appear white. In these images, everything is reversed. Trees are luminously pale, and appear to shimmer because their leaves have moved in the wind during the exposure period. The sky is black. This was so intriguing; I had to meet the artist.
‘‘What I love about pinhole photography is that at the same time there is a unique softness, yet also a sharpness,’’ says Glorieux. ‘‘There’s no negative. There is only one print made on the photographic paper which was at the back of the camera.’’ Although color photos can be made with a pinhole camera, Glorieux chose to exhibit only black and white images. It is amazing that this super low-tech method, using a rudimentary picture-making device, results in something so elegantly evocative.
A must-see is the artist’s huge image of Montreal’s Place des Festival. At 15 feet wide it’s the largest that the McCord has ever installed. There is a ‘look and look again’ feeling, as one discerns subtle details in the shadows. There is a lyrical glow in the images. Go and gaze at them. You will see Montreal in a whole different light.
Impressions of a City, Montreal Through a Pinhole, February 3 to May 27, 2012
McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, (514) 398-7100