• Mark A. Busby.

Spectral Vancouver


The photograph is one of two taken this past weekend called “Spectral Vancouver.” The enjoyment came from experimenting with non-flash photography in favour of other forms of non-natural light dealing with the scene’s final representation. The result is a strangely grainy and atmospheric shot. No specialized equipment is needed to play around like this – I use a simple smartphone and a non-accessorized Nikon D500 with simple editing software. Of course, the captured image is enjoyable just as it is. However, the picture also appears invitational. As an example, on visiting the scene in the photo for the first time, the spectator can step into the photographer’s shoes and share the same point of view.

In the ontological sense, the photographer has confirmed the existence of an object or thing. In “Spectral Vancouver,” this is a tree. But the relationship the viewer has with the photographer begins and ends with that first act of looking. From that moment on the seer enters the scene experientially, through their imagination, to create a new reality. In T.S Eliot’s “Little Gidding” comes the lovely quote:

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Hence, by returning to the photograph as a visitor to my work, I gave it the title “Spectral Vancouver.” Unsettlingly perhaps, the picture reveals to me the City’s darker side. As Vancouver’s shadowy money laundering and property cartels continue to remove from people the hopefulness of flourishing in this “most livable city,” the question becomes who will steward the place for future generations to come? Not two hours after taking this photo violence symptomatic of the drift into meaninglessness erupted not far away in the form of a triple shooting.

Which version of Vancouver shall appear tomorrow, as the fog clears?