Wednesday, January 5, 2011

America, spring does not last forever.

(NOTE: The fast-paced American ambition, always moving to a nowhere land, always thinking that it is doing something that is more important than anyone else, anywhere else in the world, always driving itself into debt and significance: that was in the back of my mind as I selected these images. They reflect the American Ideal: the motel, the car, the plane, the supermarket, the dirt road and the final dump is all about the American Experience.)

The six images I've selected tell a story. In the end, it's not a very optimistic story, but it's real. All of the images reflect individuality, strength, determinism.....qualities we all admire. We associate them with the rugged American Way. As human beings we make choices, and the images all show impressions of people making choices, making decisions. Some decisions are more weighty than others. Some of our choices have life-changing consequences. Or so we say.

To me, the individual is the collective theme of all the photos in this gallery, but not individuality separate, not withdrawn. On the contrary, each of the first five images describe individuality that is highly social, cultural, meaningful and circumstantial. Interdependent. Interconnected, at least in a humanistic, democratic way. The first five images lock into movement, speed, a pace, a direction, a relativity, and basic tolerance before the intolerance of American partisanship and consumerism drives a nail through it.

The last image shows the end of consumerism wasted in the field of uselessness, at the foothills of decay.The underlying "theme" of the gallery is represented by the sixth and final image. The trailers and the truck, the tire tracks in the mud, the winter, the grey emotion. This is where we end up regardless of everything else that preceded it. This is where the American Experiment takes its most decadent and destructive last gasp. It's neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It just Is. So I ended my commentary with a line from one of my poems. It seems a fitting way to close: America has its "yes", and it has its "no". In the spring it rains, and in the winter it snows.

1. The Hometel Inn, image by steven-brooks

It has a film noir feeling to it, which I like. It also has an intimacy around mystery, death, rejuvenation, the great beyond, passing away, passing by, moving along....stopping for a short time and then leaving without a trace. In America, almost everything is temporary and replaceable, pliable and elastic: for example, the man standing in the doorway, scratches at the door on the way to his own funeral in a reenactment of the apocalypse. Tears will fill our eyes, our voices will tremble as we bind his feet and cover his bruised arms stretched as wide as space, making a shadow like a silhouette of a fat ballerina, lips forever scared with a scowl.

2. An image by RЯR

I like the angle, similar to the one by steven-brooks, "The Hometel Inn". For me, both images have a reminiscent quality to them. There's movement in both images, people going somewhere, leaving something behind, looking ahead, going through some place. The space inside the car is small, like the small motel room. But the spaces outside are huge, vast, unpredictable, variable and sudden. In the back seat of this car, Amercia gets the blues. It thinks it has a right to plant its germ in the moment, to irrigate Mother Earth as its dominion, as its property, as the sitgmata of a conscience it no longer has.

3. 210_1110_06 an image by wire_paladinSF

The angle in these images are similar: long, sleek, coming from nowhere, disappearing into nothingness. This one by wire-paladinSF has movement in a small space inside, like in a tunnel under ground, or maybe on a plane, or in a bus; probably a plane. Doesnt matter. There is a sense of isolation, anonymity, individuality making its mark, like a struggle, but connected to a network floating face down in polluted rivers of decency: in America, every sickness, every failure, every breakdown, every infection and disease is considered to be a moral failure.

4. Decision, an image by foxybearsfun

Here we have the same angle, a decision being made from a point of view where we dont have all the information to make the decision confidently, or even competently. We are traveling on highways with several destinations in mind, several paths to take, many rooms in motels to choose from, many seats on a plane to hide in, to wait endlessly for something to shock us. Standing in front of a long shelf of food and fake food, youth must decide which way to go. But at home, in an envelope tucked safely away in a drawer in a private place she set aside for hating him, she keeps a clipping of the story of her father's arrest. She lives in a space of unforgiveness, and, like America, she rewrites the story of her life. Meanwhile, the car keeps racing along the highway and in the large space of a fluorescent supermarket, we hide from recognition loading up a shopping cart.

5. ian fung, image by n. states

The individual going somewhere alone. There's a road, there are choices, decisions, possibilities everywhere. And shadows. There is wonder, imagination and indiscretion: the walker moves toward a setting sun, past sharp pieces of wood sticking out of muddy water. A piece of wood seems to be pointing in a certain direction, so the walker moves along with the sun in his or her eyes. In all these images I've selected there is the focus of choices, decisions and probably the thought that it really doesnt matter anyway. The motel, the car, the airplane trip, the supermarket or the sandy, muddy beach front dirt road: there may be no purpose to any of it. And then, maybe, the point of view is everything.

6. Colorado, USA, 2010 image by jancies

The end of the line. The dead end road where the tire tracks fade off into a vacant lot, an abandoned field, isolated houses scattered here and there. To me this represents the completion of the gallery of images. Here movement comes to a stop at old, rusty memories. It's winter. It's frozen. This is where The End comes to be dumped. All the images I've selected move towards this direction no matter what goes on between here and there. Whether we're traveling fast and hard and relaxing at highway motels, speeding along in our car with important places to go, anticipating new people and places somewhere, sitting on a plane, choosing the best of several not-so-good choices or briskly walking along the open stretch of a dirt road overlooking the panorama of the wide and turbulent ocean: we all end up at the end of the line, at the end of the street paved with gold, at the end of a roll of film. And that's our destiny. We are both the Creative and the Receptive. We are all things and in the end, our tires are removed and a window shade is put up over our eyes. We have our "yes", we have our "no". In the spring it rains, and in the winter it snows.

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