Wed, Oct 08, 2008 - Page 15 News List

[ART JOURNAL] Two spaces and in between

Canadian photographer Joe Russo always finds something cool at the end of the road. His photographs can be seen at Beat Studio until Oct. 19

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Joe Russo often needs to lose his way to find the right photograph.

“What I like to do is get on my scooter ... drive on a road outside the city and try to get lost. I follow a big road until I find a small road and follow the small road until the end and see what’s there, and if nothing is there I turn around,” he said. “But [I] always find something really cool at the end of the road.”

What could be a rough guide on how to travel for some, is for Russo, 24, an approach to photography. An exhibition of his work featuring cityscapes and landscapes and everything in between is on view at Beat Studio, located across the street from Mingchuan Park (民權公園) close to Songshan Airport (松山機場), until Oct. 19.

ROCKY ROADS

Russo, a native of Toronto, Canada, was immediately struck by Taiwan’s beauty when he moved here three years ago to learn Chinese.

“Taiwan’s mountains really got to me because there are none in Toronto,” he said.

Beat Studio’s walls are hung with images of Russo’s back road adventures and the mountainous regions he visits and photographs.

Russo’s method for many of his landscapes is to snap hundreds of photographs and then merge them together into one image that can often take up hundreds of megabytes of memory (images, he said, that are large enough to “fit on the side of a bus,” although due to printing costs the pictures on display are significantly smaller — many the size of a magazine page).

Happy New Year employs this technique. Photographed on New Years Day, the rectangular image consists of mountains in the middle ground. Taipei 101 forms the focal point on the horizon. An explosion of sunshine bursts from the sky, which turns the iconic building into an obelisk of shadow. The manner in which the multiple images were merged creates an expansive perspective.

EXHIBITION NOTES

WHAT: The Photography of Joe Russo

WHERE: Beat Studio, 4F, 14, Alley 2, Ln 359, Fujin St, Taipei City (台北市富錦街359巷2弄14號4樓)

WHEN: Until Oct. 19

DETAILS: Call to make appointment: (02) 2765-9470

ON THE NET: www.gogo7188.ca/jrphoto


More interesting still is his Experimental. Russo merged hundreds of images taken over a six-hour period to create a cityscape that encompasses day and night along a river. The black shadows of buildings reflected on the water by day are, as the viewer’s eyes move from left to right, replaced by flickering lights on the water at night.

ONTO THE STREETS

The freelance work Russo has done for magazines such as the now defunct +886 involved hitting Taipei’s streets and snapping people and differs significantly with his expansive landscape images. A quartet of photos taken in Ximending (西門町), A-bei toss 1-4, shows a chewing gum hawker dancing with an actress who was there to promote her theater work.

Another image shows Bounce, a graffiti artist whose images of a rabbit with a speaker between his ears can be found across Taipei City. The image was exposed in a way to obscure Bounce’s identity and itself resembles graffiti.

Taipei’s urban nightlife interests Russo. He has spent much time at Taipei’s nightclubs photographing DJs, such as Marcus Aurelius, and clubbers; Luxy habitues might find their images hanging on the wall.

Though somewhat thematically scattered — Russo can’t seem to decide if he is a landscape photographer or a social commentator of street culture — the exhibition reveals an avid interest in the country’s culture and manages to capture some of the vibrancy of Taipei.

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