Urban Abstracts

We are born pure awareness, hungry for enrichment. The world around us is mysterious, limitless, endlessly fascinating. Perception is our interface with reality. All things are new and wondrous.

And yet the bombardment of language and symbols - the describing of reality - has already begun. We quickly become filing cabinets: able to observe, recognize, categorize and ignore. In time, we come to cling to our precious descriptions of reality, convinced that 'out there' is separate from 'in here'. A description is only that: words, language. Not the experience.

I am drawn to abstraction because of its power to express without engaging language or labels. When making photographs I turn off my thinking about things and their names. I become aware of pattern, tone, line, texture, and colour, searching for emotion, tension, balance. The goal is to record the essence of my interaction with my surroundings.

Many years of shooting strictly black and white film has nurtured my sense of design and composition. I prefer to compose my images in the camera's viewfinder rather than shoot and try to crop something from the photos later. Generally, I try to view the scene as flat and two-dimensional. I treat the compositional elements as areas of tone, to be moved around until a satisfying arrangement is found. I currently work in colour, but always keep an eye out for strong black and white images. I am a bit of a purist, and avoid the excessive post-processing that the digital age seems to entice.

And now we stand in this odd stream. Does reality flow around us, or because of us? A photograph is a document, a representation of some other reality. It stands alone, an object with its own existence, waiting. Perhaps it will dance with you, perhaps not. The observer and the observed are intertwined, not separate as we are lead to believe. Experience is the only truth.

Brad Rines