We are photographers looking to uncover America. The real America. Not the America you can download as an app on your iphone, or the America that pays $4 for a cup of coffee and super sizes it’s drive-through combos. The America that existed before texting was an acceptable way to converse, and a 50 hour work week was considered normal. We know that when people traveled 60 years ago, the goal wasn’t just to get to their final destination at record speed. It was to enjoy the twists and turns that made up the journey along the way. To make unexpected detours and stop for picnic lunches was part of the fun, part of the travels. People weren’t strangers to be eyed with suspect, but friendly passengers on the road of life. Travel today is far less personal. The trip entails rotting in a car for 9 straight hours, stopping only for lunch given to you through a drive-thru window and avoiding as much human interaction as you can. Speed. Quick. Fast. Now. These are the words we as a society have adopted as our philosophy of life.
We intend to revive the American road trip with the only thing we have: our art. My photographer-in-crime Valerie and will take to the road and document the people, places, and life we find along the way. We are not merely striving to be artists, we are cultural conservationists. With sky-rocketing gas prices and new construction bulldozing whatever history we have that can’t get a city permit to persevere, the time to document this aspect of Americana is now.
Our plan is to start from San Francisco and take 6 weeks to travel the continental United States in our car. We will travel on the back roads and lesser-known U.S routes to photograph and document America, the part of America that we seem to have swept under the rug. We will be avoiding interstates, fast food chains, hotel chains, basically any chain at all costs, in favor of the food/hospitality/essence that really is individual to that particular town and cannot be duplicated in any other place. We want to know the people and the towns we visit.
We will be documenting the people and places that have been pushed aside for newer, bigger, faster ways of life. Places along old Route 12, 66, the Enchanted Highway, and any other we come across. As William Least Heat-Moon so aptly put it “Life doesn’t happen along the interstates. It’s against the law.” We have a planned route, but we allow for the unplanned and unexpected.
We will be using film photography. That’s right. Film. The stuff that you have to wind up and then expose and then wait to be developed. 35mm, 120, 110, Polaroid, Kodak, Ilford, toy cameras, pinhole cameras, anything we can get out hands on. We love film and the results it produces. There is an essence to it that cannot be duplicated with digital, no matter how technologically advanced society becomes. Besides, it just seems fitting photographing Americana and all her dying glory with a medium that is slowly being phased out for the newer, faster product. To document it with digital cameras would just be a slap in the face.
When we complete our trek, we plan to develop all of our photographs and publish a book, as well as produce a body of work that can travel America just as we have done. We will be blogging along the way, and lugging a film scanner so that we can include some of our images on the blog.
This is a rediscovery of what America is really made of. People need to be shown that living is not done on Auto at 4G speeds. It is done through the unknown and uncharted. It is turning off your GPS and allowing yourself to be truly lost. Imagine where you could end up if someone wasn’t telling you where to turn every step of the way.