Filed under: Florida | Tags: impossible project, instant film, polaroid week 2015, us441
Travel gives me a chance to tell stories. With a set amount of money to spend, a few items packed, a loose itinerary, I imagine that the life I’m living is the one opening before me while on the road. Time warps, days blur. Everything is a potential photograph.
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: impossible project, instant film, polaroid week 2015, tybee island
I confess: I cannot swim. Not in the real way, anyhow. I float on my back so I can look up at the sky and listen to the sea. The first time I saw an ocean was in Virginia. I was 11, and I took a raft into the water to ride the waves, only to be surrounded by jellyfish, translucent flowers swirling near my arm. Later, my sister got stung by one, her small thigh swelling up to almost twice its size. I learned the power of the water. Yet still, I have beach dreams. On Tybee, I wandered off saddled with cameras, shoes slung over my shoulder. Crashing waves, a bickering family. Broken, glistening shells. A tiny ship in the distance.
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: impossible project, instant film, polaroid week 2015, savannah, spectra
It’s 9 AM. Jeff and our friend Tim are having dude coffee talk, and I am in the backyard, rigging a tripod out of an overturned wooden table. The sun keeps slipping through the clouds. We are 11 hours from home, and while I love visiting Savannah, I long to just be in my bed, hug my cat, hide out for a few days before going back to work. Savannah, though, is good to us. The night before, we ate BBQ ribs at Johnny Harris, and then bought a dozen Krispy Kremes with $10 that Jeff found on the ground. We visited Tybee Island, and later, walked to get drinks in the rain. I got a little tipsy, and this morning, find blurry night photos on my iPhone. I wanted to capture the soft darkness, the way the lamp lights glowed across a tiny square like something out of a film. I erase them. I flip through the instant shots I have taken on this trip, brush donut crumbs off the edge of a frame.
Filed under: Florida | Tags: florida, impossible project, instant film, ocala, polaroid week 2015
It is mind-numbing and surreal, driving 16 hours from home. We take one suitcase, one bag of cameras and film, a snack-filled cooler. We make a playlist (mostly Steely Dan this time, which Jeff calls his “prescription from Dr. Wu”). We play road games, the alphabet one being a favorite (“Name a band that starts with _”). There is lots of excitement in the beginning of the drive – adventure awaits! – then time rolls on, and we’re hungry. Tired, cranky, we bicker over directions. There are breaks at scenic highway overlooks and creepy little mom-and-pops selling crushed Twinkies. State by state we shed layers of clothing to accommodate the heat. We are confused, we are lost, we laugh at the dumbest things. When we reach Ocala, I roll down the window and cup my hand to feel the outside humidity. It’s one of the few places where I’ve watched it rain on only one side of the road – dark clouds competing with the sun.
Filed under: Florida | Tags: florida, impossible project, instant film, polaroid week 2015, US 301
Today starts Polaroid Week and I thought I’d share photos from our recent Florida road trip: two per day for the next five days. I took these two along US 301, the Mother Road of the South. This was the first time in our history of traveling there that our GPS went wonky; we drove in seeming circles, our navigation system winding us off highways through the beaten tracks. Lightening shot through the skies, illuminating the rolling green land where horses grazed under canopies of Spanish moss. There was that fresh-cut grass smell permeating the car as I rolled down the windows, and a sound I haven’t heard since summer: the hum of crickets.
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: art collaboration, contraphonic sound series, homestead, pittsburgh, polaroid, sound design
In summer of 2013, Jeff and I collaborated on a project documenting cities through text, image, and sound. I knew right away I wanted to photograph Homestead, the town right outside city limits, where my young parents chose to start their lives together in the early 70s. I have vague memories of the house on E. 9th: what little I remember is fueled by my mother’s stories and a box of photographs. I used expired Polaroid film to show the types of found family photos in my collection. I shot one set and they didn’t turn out as planned, then went back a few months later to reshoot, happier with the last images. That August day was oppressively hot, and as we lurked through alleyways, batting away tiny gnats that flew into my camera lens, I found it comforting and strange how much everything looked the same. In between photo visits, I spent weeks writing a 750-word essay paragraph by paragraph. It is about my parents and what they gave to me, and what I have left: fragments of personal history. Throughout that summer, Jeff spent time in the studio, rearranging photos on the floor while playing the guitar. He recorded what he heard walking Homestead streets. He wrote down the sounds that he loved, then attempted to recreate them at home through samples and make-shift instruments. He asked me questions about what the inside of my first home looked like then and imagined what it looked like today. He listened.
(Text, images and sound: Contraphonic Sound Series.)
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: garfield pittsburgh, home, impossible project, instant film, polaroid spectra
Garfield, Pittsburgh: The longest I’ve ever lived in one place. When I was a kid, we’d bounce from apartment to apartment so often it became spring routine to start looking through the classified ads for another place. The trick was to not get too attached. I made do with small spaces. What accumulated over a year was easily let go for convenience sake. Moving taught me how to let go. When I moved in with Jeff nine years ago, I remember loving this strange storefront-turned-living space, but the street behind it, Gem Way, was a total wreck. There was the abandoned building next door to us that attracted drug addicts and urban explorers, and the building next to it that caught fire, sending black plumes of smoke through the neighborhood. A lawyer rented out the garage beyond that to local bands, so there was the occasional loud dance party keeping me awake on work nights. I’ve documented Gem Way over the years, and have come to love its strange vegetation poking through the fences, its ivy-covered houses and broken pavement. The family of groundhogs nesting under our porch, and feral cats wailing at the moon. Its graffiti-covered brick the only shots of color on a gray Pittsburgh morning.