Wel, I did have plans to visit some galleries today, but then I received a nice inviation to a Mother’s Day brunch at a cousin’s, nice. So change in plans (and the two galleries that I had thought about I find are closed on Sundays)
So instead, I worked on the introduction to my book, which I will share in its entirety. Especially since I cannot get it up on my web site due to my film scanner being such a hog of my desktop system.
Working title: Tijeras Creek; Places Amongst Us
To document a neighborhood in Orange County, California, became an increasingly nagging thought in my recent consciousness. Earlier this year when I was photographing the urban landscape in Eastern China, I had realized that I have been recently photographing urban landscapes everywhere but close to ‘home’. Perhaps I know the suburbs too well.
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Our sub-division was the probably the last sub-division before you were in the ‘boonies’, open farm land and dirt roads with much older homes randomly situated. Growing up, I took for granted the somewhat similar style homes, built about the same time. It was orderly, tidy and organized, and where all my friends lived and we ‘hung-out’.
What I remember is that our neighborhood felt safe and secure. These were the TV days of “My Three Sons” and “Leave it to Beaver”, that typified a neighborhood family existence. This in turn, reinforced my casual acceptance of where my family lived.
Likewise, I now live in the suburbs of southern Orange County, but here they do not call them sub-divisions or tracts. The housing areas are given neighborhood names. And most of the neighborhoods in southern Orange County look very much alike. In Michigan, it was red brick homes with shingle roofs, in Orange County is a light beige or tan stucco with light red tile roofs. At first glance, the difference between Michigan and Southern California appears very different, but as you looked harder, you begin to find many similarities.
Thus I choose one neighborhood that I have frequently driven by for more than ten years that would be representational of the region. In this case, Tijeras Creek, a neighborhood that encompasses a golf course of the same name as well as the name of an adjacent creek that runs into a large nature reserve, O’Neil Park. I also consider this a lifestyle neighborhood, defined by the adjacency of the public golf course.
My inspiration was two fold, first, to try to objectively document a place that I am perhaps too familiar with, to look at these places with a new perspective and to better understand its context within the greater region. To better understand and relate my memories of a similar place, as banal as it might have been.
Second is to continue my documentation of the urban landscape, perhaps in this case, the suburban landscape, as a cultural lifestyle portrait reflecting those who choose to live here. From Simon Roberts and his pending book, We English, he writes: “Engaging with literal, physical landscapes is a way of engaging with social and cultural landscapes.”
This series is about the people and their immediate relationships with their environments and their neighbors. I have photographed them indirectly, their presence is tangible, and you start to know them by what they have built or chosen to include in their individual territory, their castle and fiefdoms.
I am fascinated by the interaction of neighbors and the use of their common spaces. How people establish and use their borders, creating their boundaries. How they arrive at a similar dwelling and place, but then ‘mark their spot’, to make changes and to create something that speaks to their individuality. This in turn, creates a physical external structure and space that reflects the individual(s).
I think that we are constantly at odds with ourselves, a little internal angst, as we want to fit in and be a part of a larger community but yet want to be seen as an individual, not part of the faceless herd. And we bring with us our cultural background and individual context, and we want to try to establish our identity while not exceeding the local ‘norms’, to ensure that we still ‘fit in”.
That is the essence of which I am trying to capture, much like a formal protrait that captures teh external form, while attempting to illuminate the inner soul. It is that duality, that dance, which I seek to find.
Best regards, Doug