Anxious, angry, grieving, and chaotic: Convolution is a reflection of where I am and what I’m experiencing in a way that none of my other photos have ever been. It’s the jumble of confused memories and colliding impressions that are my experience of the world around me. It’s my expression of how things are now, seen through overlapping disconnections. How long will it be before I’m not on edge that something – anything, everything – will be catastrophically worse without warning?


The dictionary will say that a convolution is a loop or a curl; to be convoluted is to make things overly complex and elaborate. In mathematics convolution is a function that multiplies two sets of data, one of them reversed, to find a new result. Photographically, Convolution is all of these things. It recursively layers recognizable elements and abstractions into a new result, creating a palimpsest without artifice or pretence. They are analog, they are honest, frustrated, conflicted, and raw.


The Convolution photos are recorded as overlapping multiple exposures on specialty black and white film. Each roll is run through a plastic camera between five and eight times, with the film only partially advanced after each exposure. The result is a dense, continuous negative without distinct frames or divisions. I scan and edit the results, especially to bring out shadows and contrast, but these photos are not ‘manipulated’ or digital composites.


There’s no photographic reason for a geographical restriction. But because of the other things going on these are almost entirely taken in downtown Toronto, where I live. If you know the town then you can draw a box around Spadina, Bloor, Yonge, and the lake. Very, very few of the photos that have gone into this series were taken outside of that area.


The idea of how to record these images occurred to me one morning toward the end of July 2020, and my first roll of film was done in early August. The name for the project sorted itself out four months later, which is when the gallery was created. It got its own domain name in February 2021. Work on the rest of it continues to proceed.


My name is Matthew Piers Robertson, and I’m a photographer, mostly. Someone I respect in my critique group said that I “push the boundaries of what we think of as good photography,” and that was even before he saw this series. I can be reached as mail at matthew piers dot com and appreciate receiving emails.