How to Look at a Wooden Wall in Cabbagetown
© Copyright 2020 Joshua Ricci, Ryerson University.
A nighttime stroll comes with many potential surprises, or things to notice. Occasionally, you may be walking down the street and notice a small wrapper folded in an interesting way, or perhaps an animal strolling along the opposite side of the street as you, occasionally eyeing a potential snack. The darkness of night brings to light a beauty that is not seen in the same way as in the sun. The way the shadows dance on the sides of streetcars, or the way the glow of the traffic light creates an ever-changing light show; nighttime is mysterious and moody, while daytime is bright and bubbly. And sometimes, the mysterious beauty of the night gives something as seemingly mundane as a wooden panelled wall in Cabbagetown enough meaning to catch your eye and urge you to take a photo.
This particular wooden wall in Cabbagetown does not immediately have a story to tell, at least, not to a common passer-by. There is no graffiti, no clever sayings sketched into it, it is simply just exactly as it is. But is there not beauty in that kind of simplicity? Does meaning need to be rooted in the artistic integrity of something? In that case, could this wooden wall not be seen as the hard work of a labourer, who placed each and every one of those wooden planks in a perfectly vertical order? There is meaning in all kinds of places, it is just simply that we often choose not to find it.
The lines in the image and the way the light reflects off of the weathered wood present such an urban beauty only noticeable during a fleeting moment in time. Just how I happened to look up and see something so simple, and so striking at the same time. The faint glow through the only window on the house gives the wall life, as though someone is watching the evening news, or falling asleep in front of the TV as a Friends rerun plays. The perspective of the photo also gives the home a bit of a domineering feeling, as though it is peering down at us. However not as though it is mocking us but in a gentle giant sort of way. The way a friend who is taller than us might look down at us when telling a joke, or the way Juliet looked down at Romeo from her balcony.
Although, the most striking thing about this image is perhaps not the wooden wall itself, or the composition of the image, but the imagined story behind it. Who lives behind that wall? What do they do for a living? What is their favourite side dish for their favourite meal? All of which we could not possibly know, unless we approached the door, knocked and asked the person who answered. However, I am not in the business of knocking on strange doors in the nighttime to ask about a person’s life. So, I believe the imagination will do just fine.
There is so much in life to be discovered and noticed all over, so take a look around, and maybe a wooden wall in Cabbagetown will notice you too.
Elkins, James. “How to Use Your Eyes.” (2000)
Ricci, Joshua. A Wooden Wall in Cabbagetown. 2020. Electronic image.
Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.