Guest Blog | Jenna Kirouac: The Diffusion of High-Low Art Forms

Granville Street Photo-cubed -- a signature work of Vancouver-based artist Cameraman
(Photo from artist's website
Guest Blogger Jenna Kirouac is Avant-Guardian Musings Vancouver Arts Correspondent. To see her previous posts, please click here.

Byron Dauncey, aka Cameraman, is a well known artist here in Vancouver, garnering attention for his conceptual photography called cubic re-photography, where fragments of images are redistributed and constructed to create new meaning in spaces as in the image Granville Street Photo-cubed featured above. Cameraman has worked with a number of local artists, including Andrew Owen, with whom he collaborated on a recent street art event called "Throwup Throwdown."

Dauncey's "oultes" pop up around Vancouver
in unexpected and intriguing ways (Photo: Jenna Kirouac)
Cameraman’s ability to manipulate images that evoke new perceptions is something that he does with a modest and subtle sophistication that is matched by few. Much of street art is merited on its ability to disrupt the space it has inhabited in a way that draws the most amount of attention to the image as a kind of spectacle. Because of this, the vast majority of street art is shock-based as it competes to capture the public’s attention. This is what separates Cameraman’s work, however, as many of his installations have a subtlety to them while still being able to solicit a great degree of attention, as in the classic electrical outlet motif that he is well known for placing in unexpected and repeated places around the city.  This is not an easy accomplishment and is what really makes his work so alluring. The end result is smart and provocative, but not brash and tasteless.  Shock-value doesn’t need to be in his regular bag of tricks.

That being said, the growing scale of popularity and exposure (largely via social networking and media) that street art has steadily been gaining over the past ten years has now plateaued somewhat, culminating as something more mainstream than purely transgressive. After the release of street artists Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop (now nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature) the direction that artists like Cameraman will move has yet to be determined. However, the departure from street based work as a predominant form of expression for artists like Cameraman is definitely something to be anticipated. Cameraman’s involvement in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s 12 Manifestos of the City, along with many other local cultural producers is something that marks a specific place in time. It acknowledges the work of a few individuals that have consistently contributed to our public spaces at a time when artists like Cameraman may or may not return to the same forms of cultural production that have made them well known.  

 "12 Manifestos For The City" begins today at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Saturday, February 12) and will feature FREE Admission for one day only to coincide with the 2010 Olympic Anniversary Festivities in Downtown Vancouver.  Check it out!