Vancouver artist and outdoors lover Tomas Jirku has won the Georgia Straight's 2018 Capture Photography Festival Canada Line Competition.
Readers voted for his shots of the B.C. wilderness to grace the exterior of the King Edward Canada Line Station during the Capture fest in April and for an additional six months. The winning installation will be part of the larger multi-sited Capture Canada Line Public Art Project, in partnership with the Canada Line Art Program and InTransit BC, which will stretch across multiple stations from Downtown Vancouver to Richmond. The winning artist also gets a $600 fee.
Jirku tells the Straight he was "beside himself" when he got the news today. He says he's thrilled that Vancouver's urban commuters will be able to experience a little of what he enjoys in the outdoors that surround the city.
"When I moved here 14 years ago from Toronto I took up fly-fishing with my wife and we got to see a lot of the province," explains Jirku, who has studied and worked in visual art most of his life.
Travelling into remote parts of the Interior and local mountains, hiking and backpacking, he deepened an interest in the environment, and began experimenting with infrared to "see the things we might not normally see".
"When you get out into the environment there's that awe-inspiring feeling you get, and I was thinking about how often photos don't capture that," he says.
Using the infrared technique on his converted digital camera, Jirku finds he's able to express the life that surges in our mountains and forests. The infrared makes the chlorophyll in the leaves almost glow—in one of his shots, making the trees almost look like pink cotton candy. "There's a sense of the energy being emitted from the life there—it's a clear indication of that," he says.
Jirku frames the infrared images, making a composite of two images of the scenes he captures, and giving the effects context.
The original artist's statement explained it this way: "Light is energy. We take for granted that our reality exists only in visible light, yet just beyond that spectrum exists infrared, a realm where life is particularly active. Tomas Jirku uses an infrared-sensitive camera to capture this realm and presents it in context with visible light to highlight the distinction. Plant life is especially reflective of infrared light, as they glow brightly, radiating intense energy. This is true even in the harshest of mountain environments.
"With this unseen world brought to the surface, the images challenge the viewer to consider processes that exist all around us, yet beyond our senses. To not take anything solely at face value has great implications, even in the daily life of a commuter."