Monday, April 7


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Susan Sontag gave me an idea. In her provocative book, "On Photography" she writes that some photographers and collectors consider that the world is well on its way to becoming one vast quarry, and that we are in the pious work of salvage.

"Hmmmm...." I thought. "Let me go see if I can salvage something that soon won't be anyplace but in an image. And let me see if i can do an image that excavates some juicy fragment of a past that's just outside of the memories of most of us." That's when I saw this ghost up there on that wall. How long since John Henry Mills stopped selling drugs and Coca Cola? And how long until the morning sun finally sucks the last memory of John Henry Mills from those bricks?

Sontag is right, I think. If we really look we can show a new beauty in what is vanishing. And in not too long, this image may be the only record that John Henry Mills ever sold drugs and coke. It's a new thing and an old one simultaneously quarried out of a small piece of the fading world. Cool.


If you'd like to study it, here's the original high up above West Orange street in Lancaster's center city.


Stacey Olson said...

Beautiful photo and commentary.. thanks

Andreas said...

Something like that. Only that the things depicted get a life of their own. They stop being simple representations, in fact they never were, and after a while we begin to forget what was, substituting images instead, and in our minds these images become reality. The only reality, that is. What has not been depicted is gone.

I remember well one of our trips to sourthern France some 18 years ago, but in reality I only remember the pictures that I took. Everything in between may not have been at all. Maybe we teleported from picture site to picture site?

John Roberts said...

To me, old buildings offer such fertile ground for one's imagination. Think of all the lives and all the stories that have intersected within those four walls. Your treatment of the original photograph brings out some of that feeling of mystery, and fuels my speculation on the stories contained in that building..

Ted said...

(Stacey) You're very gacious, thanks. And thanks for your own outdoorsy site (click on stacey's name to find it). As a city boy... whoa... thatzanother world....
(Andreas) What a wonderful concept... teleporting from picture to picture, place to place, memory to memory. That's a trenchant idea, want to think on it.
(John) For anyone who's not visited John's site, you are missing enormous inspiration. He has the strongest sense of Americana, and how to artistically interpret it that I know.
And yes this image is stealing from your playing field ... and it is trying to do exactly as you suggest... "speculate upon the stories contained in that building." It's what you do so well, I'm flattered by your compliment.