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Untitled (gas station)
Leslie Gale Saunders, Saunders, photograph, gelatin silver print, black and white photograph, gas station, 1950's, inactivity, urban landscape, urban, cars, snow , winter, automobile, vehicles, light, sign, industry, nature, energy, power, Saskatoon, metaphor, 2D art, two-dimensional art,footprints,industry, power poles, telephone poles, signposts

This image, Untitled (gas station), depicts both architecture and landscape, but this landscape is an urban one.  A key component of this image is inactivity. This inactivity is proven in a few ways.  First, there are no people in the scene, even though this photograph was shot in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Second, while we have the evidence of people having been here (their buildings, cars, and even a few footprints), all is covered with a layer of snow, suggesting that people have not been through this space for a time. The cars, also, have a layer of snow on them, which indicates that they have not been driven recently.

This image refers many times to industry, and depicts no plant or animal life whatsoever. There is not even a single tree in the image, with the only vertical lines present being those of the power and telephone poles, and of the signposts. The signposts themselves depict two aspects of industry - automobiles and the fuel for those automobiles.

Clearly, there is a human presence here.  We know this not only because of the footprints and cars and buildings, but especially because of the presence of the  cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  that took this picture.  But Saunders has chosen to take the photo at a moment when no person was in view. This deliberate choice on the part of the photographer suggests that he was trying to capture a city in a dormant state; the city is sleeping, and is not totally devoid of life. But sleep as a  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  can represent death through the absence of activity. In other words, perhaps this is what the end of the world looks like: leftover production with no consumers to make use of it.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • What does the photograph Untitled (gas station) suggest about the nature of energy and power, and the sources of that energy? How might your answer to this be affected by the time you are living in, as compared to the time the photograph was taken (around 1950, approximately 50-60 years ago)? How did we view energy, cars, and gasoline differently then than we do now?

  • If you didn't know when this photograph was taken, what clues could you find in the photograph and the way it was shot that might indicate the time period?
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Daily performance – make a mark

Make a work of  performanceAn art form in which the actions of a person or group in a particular place at a particular time constitute the artwork; all works of performance art therefore incorporate time, space, the performer’s body, and the relationship between performer and viewer.  art by leaving a trace of your presence as you go through your daily routine.



Author unknown.  ‘Leslie Gale Saunders.’  Saskatchewan and the Visual Arts, Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:  http://scaa.usask.ca/gallery/art/artists-saunders.html

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning