Rob MacInnis studied Directing at New York Film Academy before receiving a BFA with a Photography Major from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2005. He has received a President’s Scholarship from the Rhode Island School of Design where he recently graduated with a Masters in Fine Art. He was selected for Magenta Publishing’s Emerging Photographers 2006, 2007 & 2009 publication, NSCAD’s Off The Wall show, ACT’s SNAP!08 auction for AIDS research, The Casey House “Art With Heart” auction and a featured exhibition in the Contact Photography Festival 2007, 2008 & 2009. His work has been featured on Fashion TV and has been the subject of a Bravo Documentary Series called “Snapshot”. His prints can be found in both private and public collections both domestic and international, such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers, The Nimoy Family Foundation, Citibank, and the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. He has been published in Enroute Magazine, Eye Weekly, The Globe & Mail, Juxtapoz and The New York Times, and is shown internationally at Art Basel Switzerland, Scope New York, PhotoLA and the Toronto International Art Fair by Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects in Toronto. He has received grants from The Canada Council for the Arts and Arts New Brunswick, and a Presidential Scholarship from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has received Public Art commissions from The Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Medicine Hat.
The Dog & Pony Show
“We do not identify dogs in terms of their physical characteristics….They’re identified in terms of our mental constructions, so they’re basically mental objects.”
-Noam Chomsky, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?
I remember a potent thought I first had as a kid at my family’s cottage on the Northumberland Strait, sitting on cheap reclining lawn chairs one October night. I inhaled the cool air from the shore as my mind was blown by my cousin’s descriptions of the impossible heavens above. During a little silence, I had a big thought; ‘What would it be like if the universe had never existed’? I tried hard, but couldn’t imagine. It was an odd thought, though a pleasingly impossible one which I tend to revisit with the same frequency as my attempts to learn the elusive art of whistling. “Could whistling create a portal to another universe?!” may describe how I approach my artworks/projects/distractions/displays-of-affection. Throwing rocks as far out to sea as I can, resulting in ever-pathetic, humorous and inevitable failures that re-verify the limits of my own present reality. The rocks always land somewhere between me and the waterfall at the end of the ocean, rubbing the real and the imaginary together.
Years later, as John Cage became the patron saint of my contrarian heart, I day-dreamed that these failures were not inevitable. Every limiting parameter signified a space beyond it’s edge. The trick I learned from my smarter older brother, that it’s impossible to look at a word without reading it, felt more like a challenge than a rule. I wondered if I could look an animal straight in the eye and make no assumptions about it’s thoughts.
I blew large, uneasy shiny bubbles, anti-photographs of animals. And if you looked close in the right light you would see contained within, the apparition of perfected human bodies and photography’s ability to forever justify its exploitations. Something Lorrie Morre said, “I would never understand photography, the sneaky, murderous taxidermy of it.” To be honest, I am shy and people frightened me. Animals only pooped on your shoes.
I wondered if you projected enough white light onto black, would it disappear? Would the result be the negation of both, something new or just the impartial, toothless arbiter? Could I ever see an animal? Or realize what seeing it means? I wanted to catch myself not seeing them. If I made them look like us, simply by virtue of my sharp aim, my repetitive and singular approach, my stylish bag of photo tricks, what would be the reflection? If I blew a bubble shiny enough, attractive enough, as impeccable as the polished mirror in a deep-space telescope: would it perfectly reflect us, richer than before? Can we really only see our own creations and nothing else?
It’s truly bizarre to tell people you have never seen these animals, but have only thought of them. That they can’t see this donkey, posed as a fashion model, because everything inside of a photograph is a hallucination. Trying to make animals disappear is about as hard as imagining the opposite of the universe but it’s well worth the effort.
To view more of Rob’s work please visit his website.