20 hand-tinted gelatin silver prints mounted on foamcor
101.5 x 132.0 cm
"Everyday Stories" came out of a series of investigations
about the relationship of language to image produced between 1979
and 1980, in my studio in London, Ontario, at the time when I
held a faculty position at the University of Western Ontario.
The premise of the project was analytic in approach: to investigate
through the ordering of objects in a photographic composition,
the narrative potential and syntax by which images convey meaning.
The material used for these compositions consisted of things lying
around inside and outside the studio, a collection of odds and
ends, plastic objects found at goodwill, detritus, etc.
The conceptual direction of this project was guided by Roland
Barthes' description of the relation of text to image in his article
"Rhetoric of the Image" in which he tries to reconcile
the potential of the image as a semiotics based system, its relation
to language, and the consequent cultural meaning resulting through
The photographs in "Everyday Stories" are grouped into
four categories, each group consisting of quadruplets, except
for "Theoretical Studies" which has a total of eight
images. In "Everyday Stories", images are juxtaposed
against culturally invested texts, a set of rhetorically driven
questions pulled out of an antiquated elementary school primer.
In this grouping, the text imposes its cultural meaning onto the
images. In the “Image/Text Series”, a minimally informative
situation is implied by the image blurriness and the absence of
text, but the images do convey some meaning as a result of our
desire for insistent meaningfulness. The “Theoretical Studies”
images function as a set of analytical propositions positioning
the relation of texts to images in terms of questions asking the
viewer to verify the validity of the statements. Whereas the relation
of text to image in the “Theoretical Studies” seems
evenly balanced, “Object Narratives” invests all meaning
into the image as there are no textual signposts to affect, or
be affected by the reading process.