Struggles with Images

Parker Kay


The chair is uncomfortably low and the keyboard lays flat. Traces of past ergonomic preferences reference previous users of the work station. On what seems to be a barely illuminated monitor, a search queries the library’s catalogue:

Call Number “779.0973 M39,” Location “Stacks Request Reference S-MR,” Status “In Library.”

And another.

Call Number “700.285 B58,” Location “Arts 5th Fl Reference Open Shelf,” Status “In Library.”

Struggles with Images is a site-specific installation that uses the picture collection of the Toronto Reference Library to address the shifting nature of the image from an analog object to a dematerialized digitally entity. Situated between the stacks of the picture collection, Kay presents a curated selection of images depicting windows and their reflections hinting at the allegorical meaning of these architectural features. Acting as a top-down Camera Obscura, the architecture of the Reference Library itself exemplifies this shift with the physical prints from the Picture Collection dematerializing into a more fluid form within the Digital Innovation Hub on the first floor. Presented in a vitrine and as a series of window-mounted vinyl compositions Struggles with Images makes physical the layered experience of viewing images online. In a circular gesture, Kay brings the physical space of the picture collection back into the digital through a new video work available at parkerkay.com/struggles-with-images.