Please Hold Handrail - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Movement is inherent to our lives. We travel by so many different means that the methods become unremarkable, familiarity creating a rote series of interlinked steps to be accomplished with as little effort as possible. The specifics blur. 

The photographs are of escalators in Toronto's subway system, taken with long exposures to capture the movement of these devices. We typically face in the direction of our travel, up or down as the case may be, but here we're looking sideways at the conveyance itself. The walls blur past, with their posters and advertisements dissolving, leaving a wash of colour and the reflections of light and dark on the escalators' steel sides. Bumps and wobbles become impossible waves and breaks as the photographs compile time.

The accompanying audio is also taken from these same escalators. Hard surfaces and constricted space combines with flawed mechanical repetition as time stretches and repeats, layering small parts upon itself. The weight and stuttering insistence of movement underground carries forward.

"Please Hold Handrail" records an unremarkable event that is repeated without consideration; even the sign that gives this project its title is so ubiquitous as to be invisible. The escalator is just one small part of the trip, one of a series of steps to be accomplished with as little effort as possible. The specifics blur.


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