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VENT: Photographs 1977 - 2017

Paul Collins
Care Not Care, Paris
Artists' Books
22 × 21 × 1 cm
52 pgs

The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.
Victor Shklovsky
“Art as Device”

Drifting through the city as an art student on the constant look-out for meaning and motifs, I one day noticed an air vent of painted wood, fitted into the walI of a building on Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto. It felt not as though I had simply “noticed” it, but as though the vent itself had come looming, glowing out of the noise of the city and of my experience. The form and fabrication of that slatted object seemed to embody so many of the elements and complexities that, I was discovering, were necessary for the construction of a work of art – essentials of surface and depth, composition, aura, and most especially the gridded x and y axes intrinsic to much art, be it the the written word, notated music, the painted, printed or projected image.

Much, if not most of my work since then has flowed and flown out of this object and this form. But the air vent is not a mere metaphor. That it is and was an air vent is not important. It could have been a tree, a mountain, a glass of water, a face, a word or a square. Its ‘is ness’, that thing that makes a stone stony and an air vent an event is what matters. Russian writer and critic, Victor Shklovsky (1893 –1984) identifies this process as “Ostranenie,” or defamiliarization – the rendering or imbuing of something with strangeness. VENT: Photographs 1977 – 2017 documents 40 years of fascination with a form.

Limited edition of 100. Signed and numbered.

Hardcover, perfect-bound, black and white.

  1. VENT

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