By Mike Landry
Christian Dahlberg's reimagining of the Sun Tower in water.

Christian Dahlberg's reimagining of the Sun Tower in water.

Christian Dahlberg doesn’t just photograph. He extracts. He cuts. His camera is a chainsaw.

It started with reassembling photographs of nature into chairs, guitars and other things made of wood. But that was when the Vancouver artist was in the woods tree planting, soil sampling and surveying. Now back in the city, Dahlberg is photographing buildings and his chainsaw has become an electric hacksaw. The new photo series is one part of his two-part exhibition City Projects.

“I liked the work of Pierre Boogaerts. He spent some time in New York and did a lot of this photo composite work. So I started working with buildings in Vancouver,” says Dahlberg.
Many of the buildings in the show, while no longer similar to the original building, are recognizable, like Vancouver’s augmented Sun Tower in water. Dahlberg’s wants his re-imagined buildings to look believable.

He uses slivers of the original building to digitally make grids and patterns, while also using realistic colours and contrast. It’s an illusion that makes the viewer question their expectations of what a building could/should be.

“I think a lot of people are disappointed with architecture…I may take images of buildings but it’s the questions around architecture I’m working with.”

Dahlberg doesn’t understand why people put up with half-empty bland condos while the city suffers a housing shortage. The fact that city-based artists are still painting “moody landscapes” goes to show how complacent we are when it comes to bad architecture.

“We pass buildings all the time. We look at buildings all the time. Why not judge and use them artistically?”

This drive to expand the notions of public art, also carries over to Dahlberg’s accompanying photo series of neon signs from the city and his travels. He has a website of his findings. It’s more of a hobby than fine art for him, but people have really latched on to this alternative form of public art.

“It’s kind of odd where you have gigantic seahorses and apples, bucking broncos, fire-breathing dragons, it’s very fun and bright. I never thought much of the project beyond my own personal interest. But other people like it.”

City Projects will be on display from Sun July 19 - Sat August 8 at Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver.