Smoke Damage

Calgary, AB (Artist Statement)

Smoke Damage: Calgary, AB, Canada (2007) - Abstract photograph of stained water streams on the colourful interior of a burned-out house

The kitchen in this house had not been burned in the fire, but smoke from the living room had coated the walls in deep black soot. Water from the fire trucks streaked runnels through it, revealing the cartoonish paint, a dirty clown's face flushed with heat. Cupboards hung open, black and bare; the linoleum was split and warped: a shabby house even before the fire.

Beside the counter was a tiny door to a storage area under the stairs, a fitting addition to a surreal scene. Setting my tripod very low, I photographed the contrast between the bluish door and the bright yellow wall, including the old doorknob and the gradient of streaks to pull the opposing colours together. Very faint light washed the wall from a window, mostly boarded over, so this single exposure took many minutes. With the shutter open, I kneeled almost without breathing on the shaky floor, working hard to not move the camera, thinking about how quickly everything can change.

— Smoke Damage: Calgary, AB, Canada (2007)

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© Mark Raymond Mason

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