Gallery index

Motion and memory

01 02 03 04
05 06 07 08
09 10 11 12

I grew up in Iowa and Kansas and remember watching the rural landscape fly by while riding in the family car: the broad, undulating bands of green, gold and brown; the weathered, isolated barns, houses and silos; distant trees on the horizon.

This series of images has its origin in a road trip I took in April of 2005.  This was my first time driving through this part of the country since I was a child.  Being somewhat nostalgic in my highly urbanized middle age, I decided to document the journey with my camera.  Due to restrictions imposed by the driver (my wife) I had to take most of the photos through a closed window at high rates of speed, not exactly ideal conditions for photographing.

When I returned home and examined the raw digital files more closely on the computer, I was disappointed—most of the images suffered from a variety of ills: low contrast, low color saturation, a greenish color cast, and blurred foregrounds.  I nearly decided to toss them all in the Recycle Bin.

But I was determined to make something out of the images.  In a moment of uncharacteristic mental clarity I had the insight to make the blurring caused by the movement of the car the dominant stylistic element.  I remembered reading somewhere that only a small area of our field of vision is actually “in focus” at any moment in time, so this stylistic device apparently has some physiological basis, which appealed to me as an ex-scientist.  Also, I considered the blurring to be a visual representation of my very poor memory of my childhood.  The result was a series of painterly photos that I find both oddly comforting and disturbing at the same time, a reminder of the confusing and conflicting feelings I had during those road trips so many years ago.

Since that original trip, I’ve continued taking photos out the car window on road journeys through other Midwestern states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska, Colorado, and Tennessee).  Although I didn’t grow up in those particular places, these images invoke the same feelings in me as those taken on the original Iowa trip.