After Stephen Shore II

After Stephen Shore II, a trial

In preparing for the assessment, I’ve decided to submit After Stephen Shore II, the reworking of Shore’s Uncommon Places using GSV images, but blacking out the area Shore actually photographed, such as the Desert Center image below:

California 177, Desert Center, California, July 2014

And Shore’s original:
California 177, Desert Center, California, December 8, 1978

I’ve never printed these images before, they’ve only existed digitally, so as a trial I thought I’d try to add something, to paint the black square instead.

20 years ago it might have worked. My hands were steadier – I drew straight lines all day long (I was a draughtsman at the time), but now… the edges are somewhat wavy! It looks messy, there a brush strokes, which to be fair I thought would be a good thing, but it doesn’t work for me. Perhaps with time, practice and patience…?

No. I take that back. I actually think that adding paint runs contrary to where my practice has evolved. I used to photograph using film, I still have many film cameras (they’re generally much nicer “objects” than digital cameras), I have film in the fridge. However, that film has been in the fridge for probably 6 or 7 years, and the last time I shot film with any purpose would probably be from around that time. I bought a digital back for my medium format Hasselblad and haven’t put a film through it since (although to be fair, I don’t use the camera that often).

No, my practice is pretty much completely digital now. Yes, I soaked some prints in diesel last year, but then I rephotographed them to retain them (apart from the whiff of diesel, they no longer really exist as they did last year). I suppose this was an attempt to do something similar with paint, but no. I’m digital. Why fight it? Well, until next time I feel like doing something different.

So, the prints have rectangles created in photoshop. That’s where I’m at

Making Day - After Stephen Shore II

The latest making day was an opportunity to progress with an alternative interpretation of my After Stephen Shore project. Rather than continuing with the more direct approach, I decided to explore the direction of the "void" version I'd discussed towards the end of September, which was partially triggered by Leppard's quote cited in Liz Wells' Land Matters:

Photographs are about memory - or perhaps about the absence of memory, providing pictures to fill voids, illustrating and sometimes falsifying our collective memory.

Shore's photographs feel familiar to me. Actually, no that's not it. Shore hits a space with his photographs that is there in me because I've been indoctrinated with American culture, growing up with US TV programs and the like. His photographs (from Uncommon Places) are from the 70s, just like Starchy & Hutch, Kojak and The Streets of San Francisco and the like. They sit there, filling that void brought on by a vague knowing without first hand experience.

There are also a few other things I've decided to work with too. A few years ago I read a piece by Errol Morris about Fenton's Crimean photographs, in it he spoke about the elephant outside the frame. The fact of the matter is that 99% of the time, we don't know what was excluded from a photograph. We don't know if there was an elephant cropped from the image. So why did Shore choose the framing he did? What makes number 611 Wolf Street more interesting to him than, 615 or 625? Or the opposite side of the street? Using Google Street View to expand his framing allows you to see some of this. GSV is completely objective, photographing everything every 8m or whatever the interval is. Yes, there is some censorship of faces and words performed by software, but the 8-eyed beast sees pretty much everything.

This also leads to something else I find interesting; the changes brought on by the passage of time. In the few examples I worked with during the making day, the changes are fairly superficial. The 70s vibe from the fashions, the colours, the cars and even the shop signage has passed, but the architecture is by and large the same. Not so with other locations I found when doing my more literal project a few months ago. But yes, things do change and I find that fascinating; the comparisons, the thrill of spotting a similarity, recognising things even if just in the background. It's one of the major things I've enjoyed about working first with Ruscha's images, then Shore's.

And yes, it's also all about the journey...

With this approach, I do have concerns. Without access to the Shore original when viewing my photographs, I fear the context will be lost. Yes, they will still be curious. Why have I done what I have done? What can't we see? In not seeing what one artist has made important, is my work left unimportant? Uninteresting? Is it something of a clique work - you will only "get" it if you are familiar with the original? If it were ever to be shown, how would you do this without Shore's work sitting alongside (and yes, I'd be happy to share an exhibition...)

Many questions to think about and address (maybe), but in the meantime here are the photographs:

CHurch and Second Easton
Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, Aug 2013
(after Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1974)

Deaderick Street
Deaderick Street, Nashville, Tennessee, Jul 2015
(after Deaderick Street, Nashville, Tennessee, May 2, 1974)

Richland Mall GSV
Richland Mall, US 30, Mansfield, Ohio, Jun 2011
(after Richland Mall, US 30, Mansfield, Ohio, July 5, 1973)

W15 Vine GSV
West Fifteenth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug 2015
(after West Fifteenth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1974)

Wilde and Colonialization
Wilde Street and Colonization Avenue, Dryden, Ontario, Jun 2012
(after Wilde Street and Colonization Avenue, Dryden, Ontario, August 15, 1974)

Wolf STreet GSV
Wolf Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jun 2014
(after Wolf Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 28, 1975)

21st and Spruce GSV
Twenty-First Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jun 2014
(after Twenty-First Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1974)

20th and Spruce GSV
Twentieth Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 2014
(after Twentieth Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1974)

Second Street, Ashland GSV
Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, Oct 2008
(after Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, July 9, 1973)

We can see if this goes anywhere...