MONTREAL – Shedding awareness on the often overlooked underground metro stations of Montreal, Canada, Chris Forsyth puts the public architecture back in the spotlight. In his photography series The Montreal Metro Project, he captures public architecture in one of the busiest metro stations in Canada. With the photo series, Forsyth hopes to show people that beautiful architecture, art and design is accessible in all spaces.
The Montreal metro system consists of 68 stations delivering an average of 1,245,700 daily passenger trips per weekday, making it the third busiest in North America. With such a large number of commuters using the transport system every day, it can be easy for the architectural details to get overlooked. The different stations were originally designed by Canadian architects through a commissioned competition, which resulted in each one embodying its own unique architectural style and becoming, effectively, public art. This characteristic enhances the detail in each station, which Forsyth has captured in his work. To better understand The Montreal Metro Project, we decided to catch up with Chris M Forsyth to get the inside view.
What inspired you to start the Montreal Metro series?
I was inspired by my passion for architecture and design, as well as my daily commutes within the metro. Taking the metro to and from school for years, I began to recognise the overlooked beauty and uniqueness of Montreal’s metro system.
Having spent 10 months documenting the underground metro stations, do you plan to continue this series?
Currently I see no end in sight for the project. I’ve photographed over half of all the system’s 68 stations and although finding new dynamic images can be difficult, I still find myself inspired to push onwards.
The photos you have taken often capture public architecture without many people in them. Is there a reason you chose to photograph the space this way?
There are a few reasons for which I choose to avoid photographing others in this series. Mainly photography of people isn’t permitted within the metro for privacy reasons. Due to this, I choose to avoid others so I do not disrupt anyone or cause any issues. My utmost goal is to photograph the architecture. I’m drawn to graphic imagery, and although I love showing spaces in use in my other photos, I like to keep my metro images uncluttered with passengers.
In your photographic compositions, do you exemplify what you feel from the space or reflect on what the architect was implying through the design?
When photographing in the metros, I compose my shots according to what I feel and see within the spaces. In this particular series I find it important to interpret spaces as you experience them. I share my photos on Instagram (@chrismforsyth) using #mtlmetroproject and part of the fun is seeing how others interpret the spaces for themselves.
How do you describe the motion you have captured in your images? Is it a way to enhance the existing architecture or a photography style you are fond of?
Using the motion inherent in the spaces I photograph is my way of simplifying the elements. When a train is blurred out it becomes much more abstract and graphic. It reduces the train to simply a bold blue and white streak, and although it doesn’t resemble a metro car you still understand what it is. The same with blurring escalators and whatnot – it makes everything much more graphic and visually interesting, but you still understand what it is by the context.
Do you have a favourite metro station?
My favourite station is De La Savane, the very first station I photographed in the series. I love the texture of the cement, the bold lines carved into the walls, and the glowing dome lights placed haphazardly throughout. The image I made of that station was one that I had always wanted to take, having passed through the station regularly prior to the series. I was so glad that it worked out so well. It truly launched the series for me.
What should we expect from your future series?
In the future I plan on expanding the series to other international metro systems throughout Germany, and cities like Stockholm, London and Budapest. Also, you can expect more architecture photography in general.