Ever since the photographer Eadweard Muybridge was paid $25,000 in 1878 by Leland Stanford to help Stanford win a bet that a galloping horse has at some point, all fours hooves off the ground, the series has been near and dear to photography.
Professionally I synthesize information from disparate sources into something that makes sense to my customers. That same activity also touches this week’s series, which is also part of the umbrella project “Roadside Attractions”. Speaking of disparate sources here is a collection that are informing my current approach.
David Hockney brought cubism to photography through his use of Polaroids. When I think of Polaroids the fours words that come mind are quick, ephemeral, disposable, and time. There is also a sense of play to Polaroids that I enjoy. After all this art and photography arena should be enjoyable. The borders of a Polaroid are equal on the left, right, and top sides. The ratio of total width to total height is 1:31.
Hilla and Bernd Becher founded one of the two major photographic schools of the late 1900’s, The Dusseldorf School of Photography. The Bechers proposed, practiced, and taught a rigorous approach to photography that valued technical excellence and objectivity. The Becher’s collection of fading industrial artifacts are not instantly captivating. The patient viewer though is richly rewarded. The photos of world renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky have roots in the Dusseldorf school. I have long been drawn to the conflict between beauty and subject matter in his work.
Though I enjoy the work of the people I follow on Instagram, there is something disturbing about the way images are presented and consumed. The medium, especially on a smart phone, is not conducive to thoughtful consideration. The medium promotes rapid scrolling through one’s feed and responding with one of 3 choices, do nothing, like, or comment. The quality of photographers I follow is high and their craftsmanship is visible. Instagram does not give photographers their due. The challenge is how does one arrest attention spans.
After my first photograph in this series I concluded that it would be immoral not to pick up the subject matter after capturing an image. I have also come to appreciate that walking along various verges with tripod, camera, gloves, and a garbage bag helps to accentuate the ephemeral nature of these particular images and photography in general.
You may conclude that all this sounds like pretentious bullshit. Depending on the day and hour I may well agree with you. I question and doubt myself constantly.
I mentioned the other day that I am working on a number of series. All the series fit under the broad banner called “Roadside Attractions”. I am currently calling today’s incomplete series “The Thin Line”. Though I have posted some of these in the past month, I thought it might be interesting to show them all together as a cohesive work in progress.
A week ago I found a location that had potential. Yesterday morning the alarm went off early, and once again I was bound for the Longview area. The intended destination was too far for the time allotted. I was tired and out of mental sorts for most of the morning. In fact, at one point I pulled onto the side of the road and went to sleep for half an hour.
The morning was not without its rewards. I did add to couple of series, and here is my consolation prize.