Wednesday, May 2, 2018

AmeriKKKa Sucks Porn

I ran across this thing this morning: Susan Lipper, trip: 1993-1999 which has, I suppose, its merits. Blah blah uniquely female perspective feminist etc etc. What it shares with a lot of other work we've seen is this vision of an America that is terrible. It is probably an "incisive critique of Trump's America" or some goddamned thing. We see way too much of this shit, because coastal elites and Euros love it.

Even middle Americans produce this garbage for the slavering effete. I'm looking at you, Alec Soth.

So I said to myself, "Self, this stuff is not only shit, it's lazy. Let's prove it."

This morning I went down to Railroad Avenue in my small city of Bellingham. I spent about 50 minutes shooting, about 1 frame a minute. The goal was to produce two completely different views of the Bellingham. I am intimately familiar with the visual landscape of this street, so I knew it would easily generate the breadth I needed, so in that sense I cheated. But really, I spent less than an hour, shot less than 50 frames, and came up with two miniature portfolios of 5 pictures each.

Portfolio A:







And Portfolio B:







I could, of course, have rendered either or both of these in high contrast black and white, probably a bit muddy. I am stretching my wings.

Now, one of these things is a profound and insightful critique which engages incisively with the problems of Fascism and poverty in America, which is populated by fucking cannibals and losers. The other is a more upbeat sketch of a fairly vibrant community. Which one is which I leave as an exercise to the reader.

Neither one is a true representation of my 55 minutes of wandering on Railroad, although that time was more pleasant than not.

It's all in the edit (both the "edit" of the sequence, and the edting the pictures), and it's not that goddamned hard.

5 comments:

  1. Except that, despite the miserly presentation, I actually enjoyed Lipper’s photos without having read the accompanying text and worrying about what it all means. Nice bit of photoanthropology. Actually, but for the language and the architecture and the obligatory motel room+TV, she might have been showing us photos of Italy for all I know.

    While I liked your photos and hope I understand your point (The Tyranny of Text, among other things), Lipper's photos display a quirky eye and a sense of humour. Mind you, that's what one can develop on a 6-year road trip. A touch harder in less than an hour in Bellingham's Railroad Avenue (which I just visited in Google Maps - weird to do so, but looks like a nice street, with plenty of parking, beer and eats opportunities).

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    1. I don't hate Lipper's photos either, really. They have a certain charm, as you suggest, apart from the TVs.

      What I dislike is the genre which -- to a degree -- the partake in. There's more going on there, there are other ways to read it, and so on, but there is a strong sniff of the "middle America, what a hell hole" vibe so popular with the Fine Art Set these days.

      Railroad is a nice retail strip, yep! Lots of lovely "organic" shops (the kind that grow up over years and years, owned by some local guy on a mission, not a soulless chain store).

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    2. Yes, that's what struck me - the lack of the well-known chain stores. Try to find similar streets here in the Netherlands, I dare you!

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    3. I guess I am interested to know if the two mini portfolios "read" for you?

      Are you getting the "dystopian hell" in one and the "warmly vibrant" in the other? I don't expect it to leap out as WELL OBVIOUSLY (although it is for me -- I made it) but I rather hope it reads at least subtly.

      If not this post is an abject failure ;)

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    4. One is bluish and cool, concrety and almost people-free, and the other is warmish and sunnish, starts with a multi-coloured 'welcome' sign and ends in a big smile. So yes, you made your point, sir!

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