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Toronto digital artist Ray Caesar on his life and reading.

Ray Caesar talks about creating digital artwork...

READERSVOICE.COM: I liked a lot of the backgrounds in your pictures, for example the old furniture and curtains in some of your interior pictures. They make you look around into the dark corners. Do you spend as much time thinking about and creating these backgrounds as the main subjects of the picture?

RAY CAESAR: They are just as important as the figure and I spend a lot of time hunting my own memories for a fleeting feeling of something I only occasionally can grasp. It’s not just what you can see; it’s more about what’s hidden in there ..in that closed drawer or in that locket or tin box.

I love the idea of treasures within treasures and it’s not important for everyone to know what’s in there … just that something very special “is” in there….truly is in there. I am the same way in life ..it’s not enough to know a room is tidy …I have to know the closet is tidy too or I just can’t relax.

RV: What sorts of things do you have in your scrapbooks that find their way into your pictures, and where do you get things for your scrapbooks and diaries?

RC: I find things everywhere and collect images in a way that is most likely a kind of obsessive compulsion. Mostly old photos and anything that has been handled and touched as those things contain some residual emotion in a kind of celestial wax that can be felt.

Most people ignore this but I can assure you there is something left in the things people loved just as some part of that thing is impressed upon their soul.

Each of us had a favorite toy or some treasured object…it’s part of you now and there is no way you could remove the importance and meaning of that object from who you are.

A short time ago I was waiting outside an old shop with a very old doorway of peeling paint probably going back to the 1930s. I lent against the doorway waiting for my wife inside and for flickering moment I was overwhelmed by all the memories of all the people that walked under that old doorway. It’s as if the doorway knew it wasn’t long for this world and in a few years it would be gone forever, but somehow all that memory is preserved.

There isn’t a way to put that into a scrapbook but it’s preserved in some way and I just put it into my pictures. One day in the far future I suspect someone will find an old picture of mine in a frame in the back of an old antique store … I can see them picking it up and touching it and for a flickering moment as soft as a butterfly wing, a million images will pass thru them as soft as a breeze.

RV: What work involved your use of digital animation?

RC: I took a job at an effects house in Toronto doing a lot of animation and visual effects using Maya. We worked on TV shows like Stargate and Total Recall, Relic Hunter and several movies for Hallmark. I had a lot of fun and it was the perfect job after working 17 years doing difficult things …

I got to play and just do whatever I wanted. It was a bit odd as I worked nights and there was no one to tell me what to do, so I did what I wanted and they came in the next morning and said ..Ok …Ok ..let’s use that.

I suppose anyone else would have been fired but what I did they loved so they kept me there anyway as they knew I wouldn’t stay long and was just working because I had nothing else to do…. I didn’t need a job at that point and had given up making art and I suppose I was just filling time.

RV: Where do you go to get your pictures printed in digital ultrachrome ink on paper, and is this paper then mounted in some way before being sold at galleries like the Jonathon Levine Gallery?

RC: I have several Epson printers myself and an assistant that prints them for me. I also use a very good print house that is run by a good man and his wife and their dog. They can be mounted in many ways and printed in many ways ..some are printed on a very heavy paper that is more fabric than paper and mounted on wood panel. Some are printed on photographic lustre or satin paper and mounted on aluminum and other archival surfaces. Some can be printed on canvas and mounted on panel and varnished ….I am even thinking of printing on silk…..today there are endless possibilities as well as some amazing 3D prototype printers that can make 3D models in a variety of opaque, translucent and transparent materials.

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