I was in Los Angeles for a couple of days last week to screen The Area at the Urban Affairs Association annual meeting and then prepare for our screening at the Echo Park Film Center. I didn’t have much time to make new work, but I was able to set aside a couple of hours to get out into the city. During that time, I mainly photographed UCLA’s campus, Inglewood, and near LAX. Here are a few favorites.
With Detroit’s pending emergency manager likely addressing the city’s failing streetlight system, and business groups funding streetlights on their own, I thought it was time to post an excerpt of a project on which I’ve been working since 2009.
When I moved from Chicago to Southwest Detroit for the summer of 2009, I was determined to photograph more than the ubiquitous Detroit “urban exploration” scenes. To do so, I developed strategies to photograph the built environment that could contribute to the discourse about Detroit rather than simply reinforce the dominant perception of the city as someting like an urban wasteland.
One strategy was borne from reflecting on the few functioning streetlights off of the arterial routes. While most every neighborhood in Chicago is fairly well illuminated, Detroit neighborhoods are not. Even my street in an active neighborhood in Mexicantown was totally unlit until about a month into the summer, when one light bulb was installed in one of the many streetlight posts.
One consequence of this neglect is that residents often provide their own light. Porch lights and commercial floodlights punctuate darkness nearly as frequently as do public utilities. Streets take on a patchwork appearance from the hues of private light sources: the bluish whites of fluorescent signs, reds of neon gas and pale yellows of porch lights. This private provision of a public utility is begrudgingly maintained like so many other services in Detroit: perhaps as equally from altruism as protection. Consequently, the relationship between individuality and community that is obscured elsewhere by the passivity of the disinterested taxpayer is exposed by the immediate need for action.
As such, the images in this series do not dwell on the absence of streetlights; instead, they focus on the relationship between lightness and darkensss. In so doing, I hope that they serve as a reminder of the commonality produced by casting light into one’s community.
Throughout October I looked forward to my recent trip to Cleveland, Ohio. Despite regularly visiting the city throughout the 1990s, I hadn’t spent any time there in a decade. I was anxious to see how some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by deindustrialization (and other critical social dynamics) had fared since earlier visits. With that in mind, I mainly focused on the East Side and the Cuyahoga Valley, although I covered considerable ground in a few busy days.
A handful of my favorite images from the visit are below, and additional images are available on my flickr account.
Special thanks go to Jeremy Shondrick for the company and wayfaring advice.
I recently visited Las Vegas to attend the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, during which I was able to build on my previous visit to Las Vegas by photographing the neighborhoods surrounding the Strip. A selection of my favorite images is below.
I’ve just returned from a few days in New Orleans attending the Society of Architectural Historians‘ annual meeting and visiting field sites. In my spare time, I photographed other portions of the city, from which a selection is posted below. If you’d like to see more, a variety of other images from 2010 and 2011 are posted in my New Orleans set on flickr.