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Eric Deis: Vancity’s New View Finder

Questions of perspective abound in the work of Vancouver photographer Eric Deis, which is featured in the exhibition “Shadows Cast on Imagination’s Past” currently on view at Elissa Cristall Gallery. But the issues Deis presents are not necessarily ones of narrowed visual scopes or concentrated points of view; rather, it’s the narrative potential of an all-encompassing picture plane that lies at the root of Deis’ image-making. Shot with a custom “virtual-view” camera system designed to broaden the range of traditional photographic perspective, Deis’ large-scale images read like visual storyboards that gather in the entirety of everyday cityscape and architectural dynamics. Dundas Street, a horizontal view of Victorian-era houses under renovation across from Frank Gehry’s looming Art Gallery of Ontario, offers a panoptic tale of urban history in development. Similarly, Deis’ Hipsters and Drug Dealer captures the shifting cultural demographic of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside centred on the demolition of the historic Woodward’s building. In another photo, Mist, the imagined narratives of a tourist throng are set against the enduring power of Niagara Falls as a telling collision of modern society and natural spectacle. The key to all of the works included in the exhibition is not the focus of one point of view, but the complexity of many. As Deis summed it up in a recent online interview: “I’m just doing more or less straight photography—the world we live in is more bizarre than anything I could possibly conceive myself. With those little details it’s just a matter of being able to see.” (2245 Granville St, Vancouver BC)

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