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Canadian Artist of the Week
LOOK AT THIS: Stunning Photos of North America’s Railways And Coastlines By Scott Conarroe
November 16, 2013
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Canal, Cleveland OH, 2008

LOOK AT THIS is a weekly series featuring the work of Canadian artists, designers and creators of all sorts.

Name: Scott Conarroe

Born: Edmonton, 1974

Lives and works: Vancouver and Zurich

These series: By Rail and By Sea, two related collections of contemplative large-scale photos documenting the railways and coastlines of Canada and the U.S. "In 2008, when I began By Rail, there was a palpable sense of change in the air," Conarroe told "I lived in southwest Ontario then and understood the auto sector to be collapsing.... Railways seemed like a motif I could go out and witness this pervasive ambient shift with. They connect small towns and cities to the factories and landscapes that define each place. They're both poetic and prosaic, and they're crucial to this continent's foundation myths."

With By Sea, Conarroe says he turned his attention to geography rather than infrastructure, photographing the perimeter of the continent. "At some point it became obvious By Rail and By Sea were aspects of a larger meta-project about Western Civilization, romantic expansionism and post-colonial/post-industrial ennui," he says. 

Another Canadian artist he admires: "Jim Breukelman makes thoughtful, beautifully-seen photo projects," says Conarroe. "I was fond of his smiling, effusive art teacher shtick in the '90s when I was a student. In retirement he's become an effusive machine for great photography."

A website recommendation from Conarroe: This one's for history and transportation buffs: ORBIS, the "Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World," a sort of Google Maps for the ancient world. And why does he like it? "[It] lets you factor in seasonal and day/night differentials when plotting your ox cart journey around the Mediterranean."

Selections from By Rail are on display at Toronto's Pearson International Airport until December 15. By Rail and By Sea will be released as a 144-page hardcover book, with essays by Robert Bean and Simon Winchester, in 2014.


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