Photo by Mandelbrot
The message on the sign under the elevated railway read, “The John Molson Way,” and seemed to have been designed to resemble a six-pack of Molson Canadian. These were confusing signals and for some moments I couldn’t understand what the sign, with its unequivocal definite article, was meant to say. It seemed to be proposing a way of life, as in “The Middle Way,” or “The Eightfold Path,” or “The Jesus Way” of the TV evangelist, and it was only when I spotted another identical sign farther along that I understood it to be the name of the footpath that I had come upon by chance and was following in an easterly direction. Now the message on the sign became both a promise and a metaphor, and for all I knew the path it named would take me out past the city limits and through the suburbs and eventually across the nation and its three vast oceans. I stopped to admire the back end of an aging rooming house that would have been hidden from view before the building of the elevated railway and now seemed to beckon passersby for a moment’s closer attention. Here at the edge of The John Molson Way, I set up the pinhole camera on the tripod and uncovered the pinhole to make an exposure of about thirty seconds. I imagined Eugène Atget, whose photographs of Paris in the twenties, painstakingly made with long exposures and very slow film, reveal the shadow of a much older and possibly invisible city.