Archive for July, 2007

Image as Journey

There was a post on Coudal Partners Fresh Signals yesterday that got me thinking about images and journeys.

Folks were pointed to a project by Bob Kessler about Western Avenue in Chicago. Western Avenue is the longest street in Chicago, some say the world but those Canadians would beg to differ, and is steeped in more than a century of history. It is the history of the street that attracted Kessler to both the street and the project. It is an amazing project and the images he has posted online lead me to believe that when all 80 images are exhibited in the same place it would be quite amazing.

Like I said, his website got me thinking about images and how people use them to represent a specific journey. Or how contemporary images are used to show how much things have changed but still stay the same. I was immediately reminded of two projects by other artists and one of my own from the summer of 2001.

The first project that came to mind was the book Cucamonga by Rudy Vanderlans. The second book of a trilogy, Cucamonga traces the paths and habitations of Captain Beefhart and the Magic Band. The goal was to show through images and sound (there is a CD included with the book) what has changed and how much might still be the same from the places that lead to the creation of such amazing music. The viewer is both happy to see houses still standing and saddend to see old haunts replaced by generic low-rise office complexes.

The second project was the US Highway 89 project by a photographer named Brian. His goal is to photograph the entire length of the original US highway 89 from the US/Candian crossing in Montana to the US/Mexican crossing in Arizona one mile marker at a time. An ambitious project to say the least. I am sure that this project is propeled by some story that connects his story of the story of his family to the story of the road, the same way that Kessler is connected to Western Avenue and I am connected to the subject of my project.

Time = Decay was a final project for ART 332 the summer of 2001. I needed a subject to build a website around and I had always been intrigued by the empty buildings around my parents home town, West Frankfort Illinois. I photographed the old school (now a museum) and the empty warehouses, gas stations, homes and corner grocery stores that dot the town. I remember stories of how large and lively West Frankfort used to be and tried to reconcile those stories with what I saw happening to the buildings and the town. I wanted to take a journey to a place that I had never been, so I took photos of the way things were and imagined.

I guess that is the power of this type of photography. It allows you to put yourself in a place you could never be and imagine the stories and the things that must have been.

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New and Improved

Well, I finally finished the re-design of jonathonrussell.com and it looks pretty good I think. The only thing missing are a few portfolio images that will be posted as soon as the keys for the flashes get back from Indiana.

I re-designed this blog a few days ago as a preview, but no one saw it before the launch. Which brings to mind the old saying “If a guy re-designs a website and no one sees it, is it really re-designed?” The answer is yes.

Check it out.

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Observation Two

I like to think I have a good memory, especially a visual one, and am always surprised when I see similar designs. That happened to me just this morning while following a link from Coudal to the portfolio site of Justin Thomas Kay. When presented with the main page I thouth to myself that looks familiar. And then I cliked on the project for BA reps and knew where I had seen it before. It looks a lot like the cover for Dot Dot Dot issue four.

I am not trying to say this is a bad thing, just something I noticed. The idea to overlap different colors of patterns is not a new one. Bradbury Thompson and other mid-century modern designers experimented with the halftone pattern and overprinting in the 1940’s and 1950’s, so this is not a matter of someone ripping off anothers new and original idea.

So, what is my point? I don’t have one. Justin’s work is great, I like it very much. Dot Dot Dot is a wonderful journal of art and design. Just an observation of similar designs.

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