New Art: Frankie Macaulay

The modern photographer is a world creator.


"I like to go into nature and hike with my camera, and shoot nature as it is," says photographer Frankie Macaulay (BFA 2015). "On the other end of the spectrum, I like to shoot urban environments and manipulate what we see through composite images and digital collage work, to create a fiction." 

For the last few years, Macaulay's work has been oscillating between natural portraits and digital art. The pieces in Public & Private used collaged images of public and private spaces, while their 2015 show, Urban Paper, was an experiment in new forms of photographic digital design and miniature paper sculpture. 

"It was a process making the final composite images," they explain. "I went and photographed objects of urban decay, I edited parts together, put them onto the paper template—3D paper sculptures that are two and four inches tall—then documented the structures to bring them into the new landscapes. There's a dystopian aesthetic. I find it beautiful when things decay or get neglected.

"That's the urban cycle of our city," Macaulay continues, "A structure is built, over time it decays and gets demolished, and the cycle starts again. Some of the buildings from Urban Paper are gone already." 

On the nature side, Macaulay is preparing an eight-panel photography exhibit from photos they shot all over Halifax, to be installed on trees in a trail in Sir Sanford Fleming Park over the next two months. " Tree Versus is almost like a scavenger hunt. My photos are printed on aluminum, and they are about realizing how much trees can endure and adapt and react to manmade impositions, which is a lot like the Urban Paper buildings. It's incredible how this world reacts to the things we construct within it." 

While Macaulay started at NSCAD to work in painting, they began using photography to document their murals and aerosol art like graffiti, but "got hooked being behind the camera." They then combined their interests in photography and painting by digitally manipulating images and creating 3D structures.

"I really enjoy the tactile element, like in Photoshop or handiwork in building," they say. They also appreciate aspects of documentation. "I'm an assistant photographer for Steve Farmer and we're working on documenting all of the Alex Colville estate. I'm really interested in the archive in an art sense, as an art piece, as a database, as inventory." In many ways, their photos are also an archive.

"It's fun to use photography for these different mediums, especially digital," Macaulay says, which is an opportunity that's fairly new to modern photographers. "Photography is an amazing medium," they say. "You can archive your life and the world around us. But you can also create what is seen."

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