Art Vs. Reality

Why can ANYTHING be Art? Conceptualism... defined and deflated in about 6 minutes. Filmed and Directed by Frazer Dempsey Sound and Editing by Ronnie Chin Written and Presented by Peter Drew

I made some pictures. I put them on Instagram. A friend said I should apply to a gallery for a show. That sounded cool, so I did. My show got selected. Cool. I made some more pictures. And now I'm preparing for the show, which has mostly meant learning. Super interesting and fun. Where to get prints? How to get prints? How big to make the prints? What photo paper to use? Where to get frames? Should I price the prints? How do I price the prints? How high on the wall should they be hung?

But theoretical questions lurk: What makes art art? Why does the title "artist" scare me? Is my stuff (see? can't call it "art") good enough? Who gets to decide who's an artist? Why does some art seem more arty than other art? Why does showing art in a cafe seem "lower / illegitimate / common / worse" and showing art in a gallery space seems "higher / legit / elite / better" when the art in the cafe might be just as good? Why do "artists" get public funding, but comedians do not? (Or do they?) Why do I feel like "skilled" art is real art and "my four-year-old could paint that" art is fake?

Well bless the net, I found so many answers to the second paragraph in a YouTube series called Art Vs. Reality. Many juicy bits of art history in six excellent episodes. Episode 2 was my favourite: Why can ANYTHING be art?

Artist Statement

Light Passing Through Glass

Light Passing Through Glass is a fine art exhibit of original digital images created by Michael Bell. Each photo is a single exposure, made with a flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a marble. The first show took place at the Hague Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan in March and April 2015. 

Artist Statement for Light Passing Through Glass

A typical scene from a Greg Miller photoshoot. Near Indian Head, August 2014.

During the past year, my friend and photographer Greg Miller invited me to lend a hand on some of his photoshoots. Greg’s pictures tend to be long-exposures shot at night, in or near abandoned houses, and often feature strange scenes lit with unusual light. Being at these shoots throughout 2014 got me thinking about creative ways to make long-exposure images, but on a smaller scale. I bought a bag of marbles and a magnifying glass from CMS and began to play. Three months later (and too much time alone in a dark room), I made enough images to present what I’ve decided to call: Light Passing Through Glass.

An early attempt at focusing light on a marble. Oct. 23, 2014

The images are made from three parts. First, a small flashlight served as the light source. Second, the light passed through a magnifying glass. In some of the pictures, the magnifying glass focused the light on a marble; in others, the light was focused into or near the camera’s lens. Third, each picture was a single long-exposure, from one second up to 30 seconds in duration. Some of the effects were achieved by: focusing the light directly onto the camera’s sensor; changing the focal length of the lens during the exposure; spinning the marble; spraying water near or onto the magnifying glass. The images were edited to enhance colours, to sharpen and add contrast, but the subject itself looks as it did when it was captured by the camera*.

The thing I enjoyed most about doing this project was the way that one idea led to another. I put the magnifying glass in-between the camera and the lightsource: I wonder what that would look like? Snap, snap, snap. Then I saw that the magnifying glass could focus the light onto an object, like a marble! Snap, snap, snap. Then I wondered: what would happen if I spun the marble during the exposure? Snap, snap, snap. What if I could use water? What about changing the focal length?  Snap, snap, and snap. It was so satisfying to discover new results from previous ideas. I hope you enjoy the show.

*One exception: in the original capture of “Light #2”, the handle of the magnifying glass could be faintly seen. It was erased during editing.

Artist Bio

Michael Bell is a weekend news photographer for the Regina Leader-Post, as well as a freelance photographer for The Canadian Press and The Globe and Mail. Light Passing Through Glass is his first fine art exhibition. 

Come to my show?

opening night


A chance to eat, drink, and converse with some great people and see some Regina-produced visual art. Michael Bell, the show's creator, would love to meet you.


Wednesday March 11, 7-9PM


Hague Gallery (top floor of Creative City Centre) located at 1843 Hamilton St. in Regina, Saskatchewan.


Free door, snacks. Cash bar.



Light Passing Through Glass consists of nine 12" x 18" printed photographs. Each photo is a single exposure, made with a flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a marble. Artist statement here.


March 4 - April 15, 2015, Monday-Friday, Noon-5PM


Hague Gallery (top floor of Creative City Centre) located at 1843 Hamilton St. in Regina, Saskatchewan.