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Bowen Island photographer brings “The Camera Trap” to the Hearth

New exhibit featuring John Dowler's work opens May 26
Extinction Rebellion print
Local artist John Dowler uses photography to capture time and people in ‘decisive moments’. Here we see a long exposure of a group of Extinction Rebellion occupiers of a bridge in Paris in a joyous human chain. They represent the wave of energy promoting climate stewardship.

The Camera Trap: When is Art Surveillance? is the new exhibition of John Dowler presented at the Hearth from May 26 to June 12. In this show, the artist challenges our relationship with street photography and makes us realize that we are constantly photographed, with and without consent.

As we open the door of the gallery, we enter into a space of contrasts. On one side, still and sharp pictures, on the other, blurry scenes in motion. The artist invites us into a dialogue of tensions where the dilemma of privacy versus art is considered. He pushes it even further by adding interactive elements to the show such as a security camera and a camera trap installation, which make the visitors and their pictures instantly part of the show.

Musician, digital designer, and photographer, John Dowler is a local artist who has been working with photography for over 40 years. It all started in a high school darkroom where he spent many hours contemplating the light. Since then, he has been exploring this medium which, he says, helps him see the world more deeply.

Over the years, the practice of street photography has taught him to find ‘decisive moments’ where body language and environment come together to communicate a feeling or an idea.

“Photography is a moving art; a kind of combination of dance and painting.” says John Dowler. Through his long exposure portraits of moving people, he changes perspectives to see how we look in a different frame of time. Blurriness allows him to express anonymity and to explore abstraction with shapes and colours.

This new show at the Hearth expands our vision of photography and invites us to dive into its process, its sensitivity, and its various meanings. Dowler’s work in public spaces also brings up a lot of questions about privacy and surveillance. In a time where security cameras are part of our landscapes and where we all constantly take pictures to feed social media with personal data, he addresses the following question: What does it mean to ‘take’ a picture?

The Camera Trap: When is Art Surveillance? is on at the Hearth May 26 to June 12. The Artist pARTy is May 28 from 6 pm to 8 pm with DJ Yeshe.