Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recognizable Shapes

(The shape of the G1 is distorted by the flatbed scanner, yet the lens remains round. Hmm...)

A warm Sunday afternoon after a light dusting of snow the night before, high clouds filtering the light, the first sunny day we've had for several days. Restlessness, the sense of spring in the air, daylight savings time once again. I took a drive over to the Central Avenue district of Albuquerque, with Lumix G1 digital camera in tow, mounted to its lens adapter the recently acquired Vivitar 24mm in Minolta mount, a melding of the new and the old.

Manual aperture and focus adjustments, just like in my formative years of film photography, decades ago: a photo trek of memorable proportions, dusting off rusty skills and foggy memories, lurking these streets of abandoned motels, strip malls and crime walls, evidence of some tragic-but-now-forgotten economic disaster happening slow-motion-like, so slow as to be virtually ignored except by those with a more long-term memory, those life-long residents like myself with memories longer than our shadows in the day's fading light.

Thought experiment: parachute yourself, blindfolded, into any urban area of America, with little foreknowledge of geography. If you happen to land on or near one of those countless boulevards of commercial sprawl, populated with endless storefronts and parking lots and signs declaring McDonald's and Wendy's and Burger King and KFC and Taco Bell and Walmart and Staples and Home Depot and Target and Kohl's and Olive Garden and gas stations and motels and countless other icons of American commerce, you could hardly tell what city or state you were in, just an endless miasma of blandness masquerading as the Great American Experiment in economics.

What seems to distinguish one geography from another are the local dialects and eccentricities, and this includes the failed experiments in economics, the local micro-disasters that seldom make the evening news. These regional areas of economic failure are what, in large measure, transform the otherwise global commercial blandness into recognizable shapes that we call our local community, with all of its faults and eyesores.

Imagine a person in pursuit of images of such areas in their own community, capturing the tragic decline before it, too, gets plowed up and paved over by more of the same homogenizing commercial sprawl. History isolated to frozen moments, like discarded postcards in some attic-bound shoebox. This is my town, these are my postcards, a glimpse into my shoebox of memories, captured this afternoon but even now fading into a less-discernible past.











Blogger shordzi said...

Beautiful. Very distinct architecture. Thank you.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Richard P said...

So well written and photographed, thanks. I too have a weakness for forgotten, melancholy corners dripping with specificity and character.

6:34 PM  

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