Sunday, October 4, 2015

Traversing the Urban Landscape

Patriot Rollercoaster, Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Mo., fall 2005, Holga 

As I work my way through the ongoing Analog Project, I keep coming back to one theme, the topics of this weeks blog post.

I find myself fascinated, for now at least, in the Urban Landscape. I know, the term may seem like an oxymoron. But, I think, if you look around you where ever you might find yourself, you might see what I'm talking about.

The Urban Landscape is ubiquitous. It's everywhere I look. It seems to be replacing, at least in part, the "natural" landscape around me. In a smaller city, it's still possible to travel a relatively short distance to "open" country, to find a more "natural" view.

Country Road, Rural Kansas, fall 2005, Holga 

But even those natural views are being usurped, in part, by the Urban Landscape. Though I can get out in the country, out into rural areas, I still find the evidence of human hands on the landscape. In this part of the country, even in this part of Texas, everywhere I turn there's the impact of human habitation on the landscape.

But the real Urban Landscape is a different kind of critter. And it fascinates me for some reason I can't explain. It seems to be stacking building upon building, reaching ever higher in the sky, mixing old and new, burying evidence of the past in gleaming stacks of glass and metal.

I've travelled, some, in Europe. There, the evidence of the past is relished, it's revered for it's connection to the human community of days gone by. Thousand year old buildings, filled with the memories, the lives, the stories of the people who've gone before.

In America, though, it still seems there's an attitude of old is bad, new is good. It's a holdover, I think, from the rush toward so-called Modern Architecture from the last century. It's getting better and there's still a movement toward preserving the past. But there's also a movement to the new and modern.

Red Barn Square demolition, Sept. 30, 2015, in Tyler, Texas, Pentax Spotmatic SP

Get rid of the old, make way for the new. Not sure I'm really understanding that. 

But it's all part of the Urban Landscape. A couple of years ago when I was just getting rolling on the Analog Project, a friend of mine, another photographer, told me I was making important images, keeping a chronicle of the area that no one else was making.

I think it all goes back, in part, to a long-term project my father worked on. I didn't even know he was doing it until after he died and I found the images. For years, he'd wandered around our hometown in Iowa, making photos of demolition and construction where ever he found them. If there was no construction, he was chronicling the businesses, homes, anything in the community.

When I was going through his darkroom, I found several massive three-ring binders, filled with the images from his wanderings in the Urban Landscape. I donated them to the local historical society museum he'd helped found, with the caveat they were to be kept available for anyone who wanted to view them, to take a stroll through the changing Urban Landscape of our small Iowa town.

I guess, now, I'm trying to do the same thing. I don't know if I'm making vital, important images. But I do think it's important someone make these images, keep a chronicle of the community. 

Urban Skyline, Sept. 30, 2015, in Tyler, Texas, Pentax Spotmatic SP

I keep wandering, I keep making images, I keep finding things in the community to see with, hopefully, a different eye. I continue to explore the Urban Landscape, looking for connections, searching for the different, the visions that make the community unique.

Old And New, Sept. 30, 2015, in Tyler, Texas, Pentax Spotmatic SP

Hopefully, before it all goes away.

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