- Contemporary Visual Art for Human Rights -

Moira Ness

Posted on October 27 2016

Nightscapes is a collection of urban and suburban pictures of Toronto City taken during the night hours, Moira Ness' images are the evidence of an experience in which the photographer is immersed in the night silence

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Photography, quite literally, pauses a moment. It allows time for extended contemplation.. - M. Ness

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Moira Ness is a Canadian photographer from the city of Toronto. Her training began at Ryerson University, after which she continued on her own, experimenting with new visual languages ​​that lead to the creation of her first body of work entitled “Nightscapes”.

Nightscapes is a collection of urban and suburban photos of Toronto. Taken during the night hours, Moira Ness' images are evidence of an experience in which the photographer is immersed in the night’s silence. It gives light to environments that emerge from the darkness as scenic spaces. Spaces belonging to the real world, but also to a world through which a sense of alienation is transmitted.

The in depth relationship Moira has with photography and the motivations that inspire her to create her settings are ubiquitous. When it comes to her suburban landscapes, the traces of human intervention on the natural environment are quite clear. These are all elements that can be read as an invitation to look at these images as symbolic representations of "places" emerging from another world. Possibly that of dreams or ideas, such places that give shape to new environments and determine the behavior and existence of man."

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L.A.: Hello Moira, how and when did you become interested in photography? And what characterized your artistic evolution?
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Moira Ness: Photography is in my blood, both my Grandfather and Great Grandfather shot and developed photos. My Grandfather’s first camera was a Rolleicord 3.5. My mother was one credit short of attending Ryerson University for Image Arts. She had an extensive collection of cameras and lenses, all of which I still have! I used her Nikon FE kit during my photography classes in high school, where I learned how to shoot and develop. At the end of Grade 12 I received my first DSLR, a Nikon D40x. I’ve been upgrading ever since!
My first hands on artistic experiences with a camera were photo assignments given to me in my early high school photo classes. They were mostly portraits of my friends on the school property or architecture of the school itself. I still have some of these prints/film! It wasn’t until I received my DSLR that I really started experimenting idea wise. I started using Photoshop intensively, learning as much as I could from online forums/tutorials with A LOT of trial and error. At the time I really enjoyed superimposing people onto landscapes and was partial to very harsh contrast and filters. I almost exclusively produced work with people/models being the focus.

Around 2011 I stopped shooting altogether. I didn’t touch my camera for almost 3 years. Circumstances arose and I was completely stifled creativity wise. In late 2014 I finally got back on track and I haven’t looked back. This time around my work is completely different. I shoot landscapes with no people whatsoever. I hope for a future body of work to include some models, but for now I am very content with my current theme. 
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L.A.: What does photography mean to you or what is your statement as a photographer?
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Moira Ness: Photography, quite literally, pauses a moment. It allows time for extended contemplation. You can focus on that moment, a moment captured with intent by the artist. You have the luxury, time wise, of really trying to understand the concept of the shot, with or without written explanation. 

I’ve always been partial to larger scale settings depicted in photographs, and in turn enjoy the same theme in movies. I love watching my favourite movies and pausing on aesthetically pleasing scenes. I treat these moments as if they were a photograph hanging in a gallery, and I observe them accordingly. I hope to create similar cinematic feeling settings for my artwork. 
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L.A.: Who were the first artists or photographers that inspired you? Who inspires you today?
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Moira Ness: Gregory Crewdson. He is my favourite photographer and visual storyteller. While I enjoy all of his work, including his most recent body of work, “Cathedral of the Pines”, I am particularly taken with his series entitled “Beneath the Roses”. In 50 plates he captures rural Midwest America. Sounds boring, right? Within these typical settings, a mesmerizing theme takes place. People in perplexing situations, with little explanation or reason as to why. By nature you are curious as to the details of the shot. Why is the car stopped in the middle of the street, doors open, lights on? Why is the man standing by the car, in the rain, briefcase left abandoned by the car? You never get an answer and the unresolved nature of the shot resonates with you long after you finish viewing the piece. Mr. Crewdson also creates the most complex lighting and prop set-ups. Reminiscent of a movie set, every light is crafted and positioned. Any light seen in the photo has been made exactly that way and is controllable. I find such organization impressive!
I’m currently obsessed with the TV show “Westworld” on HBO. It is so visually rich and complex! I keep a notebook with me while I watch in case I am inspired during the show. The team at Elastic TV, led by Patrick Clair, does the main title sequence. Pure visual candy!
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L.A.: What led to work to Nightscape project?
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Moira Ness: Simply put I like taking photos at night. I am alone, it is quiet and I take my time with the shot. Driving around at night, I’m always searching for the right light, the right composition landscape wise. It has to catch my eye as I drive by, in a split second as I look left or right. Unseen spatial relationships reveal themselves in the night lighting. There are no people or cars, just natural and man-made backdrops. These are empty land and cityscapes that I’ve never noticed.
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Trafalgar Buy it
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L.A.: How do you choose what to photograph and when, what are you looking to capture?
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Moira Ness: The more I drive around my city at night the more I notice intriguing ambient lighting. I want to isolate and preserve these scenes. I want to share the feeling I get when I look at an empty city street. The momentary escape into an unusually quiet world. I long for someone else to see it too, for him or her to associate feelings of familiarity, but only completely know the scene in daylight. 

The nondescript urban landscape is dramatized through careful composition and light balance. A single ambient light source illuminates the scene. I exaggerate the mood, hone in on the darkness. Focus the spotlight. The harsh orange incandescent lights are cooled to match the night’s temperature in digital post manipulation. Lampposts and light sources are erased to create a surreal atmosphere. The sky and background are blacked out to further mute the photo.
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L.A.: What are your future plans/projects or aspirations?
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Moira Ness: I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of dreaming; both daydreaming and REM dreaming. I keep a dream diary and refer to it often for creative inspiration. It’s like having an endless source of creative visual ideas, all stemming from your own subconscious. The ultimate mirror, going further than surface aesthetic. It’s quite powerful to think about! I’d love to take my dream diary and translate some dreams into still images, possibly a whole body of work!
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BUY IT NOW View Moira Ness on Gallery
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Moira Ness www.moiraness.com
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