Drawing from my own personal experiences with anxiety and multi-disciplinary research into the so-called “aesthetic turn in mental health,” my practice utilises custom fractal geometries—visually chaotic patterns that refract within different scales—to explore emotional resonances across space and time. Shooting on saturated 35mm film through kaleidoscopic lenses that reorient perspective, the images highlight oft-ignored affective resonances and the everyday atmospheres they engender.
For this series, I explore the structuring of anxiety across the vast and forsaken tourism magnet of Niagara Falls. As one of the most economically disparate regions in the country, there has been little support for residents in the wake of COVID-19 quarantine measures. Minutes from viral hotspots across New York state, the region has been one of the most affected places in Canada during this first wave of the outbreak. Shot in mid-June, over 3 months into the lockdown, “Anxious Falls!” speaks not only to the precarity of a forgotten place, but the insecurity of a way of life across the country.
An empty tower and abandoned ferris wheel adorn the faded horizon. The gates of the mystery maze at the crest of Clifton Hill gesture to the gaudy, commercialised strip running down to the falls. Past the signs for casinos and a‘world famous’upside down house, we stare at overpriced t-shirts arranged outside the one stubborn souvenir shop still open.Edging down the deserted roads, a haunted castle,Ruby Tuesdays, parked cars but no tourists in sight; a few bored-looking security guards shuffle along the walkway, which ends, abruptly, at the crumbling façade of another Hard Rock Café. The Falls look less encumbered than ever—the sun sets on the water as we drive nervously away.
A.T. Kingsmith is an anxiety researcher and mixed media documentarian with a background in political economy and critical mental health studies, both of which inform his photography. Recently, his images were featured on the cover of Issue #5 of Pastiche Magazine, Issue #55 of PhotoEd Magazine and Issue #95 of F-Stop. In July 2019 A.T.’s work was included in a group exhibition entitled “Monochrome” at the P-21 Gallery in Budapest, Hungary, and his first solo show is scheduled for the 2021 season in the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery at the Niagara Artists Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario. On Twitter @atkingsmith. On Instagram @s.mutt_. A.T.’s website.