|When we think
of landscape, often the image of an idyllic, lush vista with trees and other vegetation
appears in our inner mind. However, when we open our eyes, the actual landscape
surrounding us is usually a series of buildings, strip malls or other indications
of urban life imposing itself onto the land and into our consciousness. There
is natural land left, there are parks, there are waterways. It is disappearing,
or being preserved in the way that museums preserve objects and artwork; as special
and within its own insular context. Our everyday experience of landscape is, in
reality, buildings with some land around them, occasionally land with buildings
dotted through it. Yet there is also beauty in this generally unorganized, haphazard
array of buildings and places with their multitude of purposes.
I do not photograph idyllic illusions of landscape.
I do not photograph necessarily anything that is normally believed to be beautiful.
I photograph places whose main purpose is entertainment of various sorts. Our
cultural need to escape from the everyday life of work and dullness creates a
culture of its own. Perhaps we can never escape back to nature, nor ever reclaim
it. Perhaps we have lost our connection with that ideal land that is under us
and under our buildings. But we can look at what we have created in the commercial
world, analyze it, think about it, and respond to it individually. It may give
us messages we don't want to hear.
Many of my photographs are about buried memories
of places I went to and waited in as a child. For the last 20 some years, I have
been photographing at night. The subject is loneliness; a desperate feeling among
bright lights. The places are generally bars, restaurants, casinos, bowling alleys
etc. often taken in resort areas. They are artificial places where people go to
find solace in entertainment. I respond to the light at night, to the glow and
allure of what the roadside offers, what the (false) promise of a bar might afford.
Shadow figures and words often trigger memories and bad dreams of childhood. My
photographs are extremely saturated in color because emotional states are evoked.
I am interested in recording how night feels, in spite of the fact that all of
these pictures are "straight;" camera on a tripod, no extra lights, no extra darkroom
or digital manipulation. This particular body of work is mostly about me, and
about how I often feel going through life, slipping through cracks of time and
place even though the photographs are of actual, specific places. They remind
me of places that I went with my parents, even though children were not allowed,
or they are places that represent adult temptations. The project began in resort
Florida, but continues wherever I travel.
I believe every artist has a moment or time in his/her
life when something happened to affect the direction of their life. For some people
it is a traumatic experience, for others it might be the loss of something important.
It may have happened very early or even late, but for the rest of one's life and
career, making art based on that experience forms the fundamental core of their
work. It is the constant creation of yet another variation on the same theme.
Like following a thread through the fabric of an artist's work, in spite of it's
myriad forms and subjects, it is usually possible to trace the work to the return
of that core experience. Everything refers to it. For me, that loss is of self
into the fear of being alone, that no one is there, that those parents have forgotten
about us, that the lure of the night and its pleasures will ultimately take them
away to never return. I remember those fears all too well.
Click on each
image for a larger view.