Here is a selection of the very last roll I shot, with my dear friend Matt, on the very last day possible for shooting: Monday, Dec. 27, three days before the deadline to make it to Kansas. I was at a loss of what to shoot and Matt finally suggested this, a trip to the Michigan News Agency:
Shot in Houston…
This roll of gold was shot over 3 weeks time in my home-for-two-years-and-counting, Santa Fe, NM. The seven images posted are the lone survivors of the roll I shot in the three weeks leading up to my 27th birthday. I took the last shot in the early hours of the morning after a night of sitting with friends in my concrete yard, inebriated, around a rusted-out, jankety oil barrel-turned hobo furnace.
I used the film to document my house and home state: my porch and the blue sky above La Bajada hill are the images that made it. The last few, out of focus and a little smokey themselves, are good representations of my condition at the end of that late night/early morning, driving with a boy down Hwy 14 to finish off the first and last roll of Kodachrome I would every shoot.
…at which point I finished the roll and proceeded to wind the film back into the canister to ship back.
What caused it to snap, I cannot tell you–I met some resistance about 1/3 of the way through, even though I was gentle with it. Nevertheless, I opened the camera to find that the holes at the bottom edge of the film had torn, and I was exposing the film to the early morning sun.
I contacted Jon, he contacted the film dudes, and instructed me in sealing the canister, which I did with help of my friend, fine landscape photographer Ray Belcher, who had also coached me in Kodachrome. I sent the film off to Portland. It made it to Kansas. And Jon is my hero.
a candy shaped pistol.
The concept behind these photos was still mostly shrouded as I set off onto the streets of Austin. I had recently implanted myself into the city on a whim from New Orleans and Brooklyn street gossip. I had little idea of what would be laying around the nooks and crannies of the city. I knew however, that they would not be empty; there is something I have learned soundly – life exists. The photos in this set are my attempt at visualizing a bleak perspective: a look into a dreary mist obscuring a set of words on the horizon which has converging messages of hope and fear, loneliness, and redemption through others. This is a glimpse of what the homeless see. It is zombie-march. They journey years everyday, led on by a constantly stagnant view of hope through their repetitively changing world, though reliably ending in the same mire again.
I was particularly happy with the partially washed-out, bleak, and stark colors because I feel they add the suitable tone for this conversation. I’ve seen that this is how the homeless view the world, just how most of society is perpetually ignoring the homeless and dismissing them as hangover of a personally-disconnected mistake that someone else has made. These seeming irrelevances are what bring the context to the story: just as pan-handlers may be considered street novelties or decoration by a passing tourist, sky-scrapers are just another tree in the forest to piss on, from the other side of the mirror; they are equally irrelevant.
I also wanted this to be a walk, something casual and not investigative at its heart. I wanted it to be devoid of people, because I wanted you to feel the people who set their feet there, sat down for a break, or laid their head – all of them. Imagine blinking in and out of clear view of your world, in and out of utter happiness and complete dispirit, experiencing complete relaxation concurrently with dire stress, holding hands of people you meet to your heart for a moment before they disappear just as quickly as they came, and then reemerging into quick snapshots of life for brief moments of intense loneliness – this will be more appropriate.
You read more about Luc’s travels at his blog: No Intention of Arriving
A little story behind these: Martin picked up his roll from me while he visited Portland, en route to New Zealand. At the time he didn’t have a film camera with him but was sure that he could rouse one once he was island-side. I believed him. It was late November when he left. He said he would contact me once he had taken the slides to find out whether to send them to me, as most had, or send them to Dwayne’s directly. It was mid-December once we got a hold of me. Since he was WWOOFing, and therefore often didn’t have internet access, it was difficult to figure out how best to coordinate getting his film back on time. He ended up sending the roll directly to Dwayne’s with a note with my name, phone number and email. I called Dwayne’s and explained the situation. They said they hadn’t, yet, received any packages from New Zealand but they were also swamped so it could have been around somewhere. I asked them to add it to one of my several other orders if they happened to find it or if it eventually arrived. I didn’t get any word on them getting it so I assumed that it hadn’t made it by the deadline. Then, a couple of rolls came back, separately, a week after of the majority of the rolls had come back. Could it be? A small miracle…
There’s a couple more stories like this to come, but in the meantime I’ll turn it over to Martin. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote on the experience:
Given the time and place i was in, i brought a digital camera with me to New Zealand. I was quite confident that, when the time was right, a film camera would find me. A nice SLR with some high quality glass attached to it, i thought, would be perfect for the Kodachrome. I was picturing my first “real” camera, a Pentax K-1000.
When such a camera did not appear in Auckland or Hamilton, i was not too concerned. After all, i had until late December…
I started looking in earnest when i got to New Plymouth, where i transferred buses to get to Inglewood. There was a photo store less than a block from the bus station! A “sign,” i thought. But the nice ladies at the store told me that nobody in town rented 35 mm.
On my initial tour of the Environment Centre, i spied three dusty cases on top of a high shelf in the library. “Can i use one of those cameras?” i asked Val, relieved. I was confident that one of them would be flash. (Flash is New Zealand slang for “fly.”)
Val said, “Yes,” and i opened the cases one by one.
Olympus point-and-shoot. Rubbish.
Ricoh 35 EFL. Sure. If i was 8.
And then…the big one.
(Cross your fingers for flashness!)
35 mm slide projector.
I wanted to ask Val if there were, you know, any other cameras. But i’m a good Minnesota boy; i minded my manners. With the Ricoh, at least i could adjust the f-stop (lens opening). So i took it… But i didn’t load the film. My fingers were still crossed for some flash shit.
* * *
It was not long into my stay with Val and Graham that i noticed a particularly colorful sunset forming in the west. “Gorgeous,” i thought to myself. “I can’t imagine what it looks like over the Mountain!” So i took off down the road, bare feet and all, to follow the sunset. And i had a moment’s pause: Should i grab the Ricoh? And the Kodachrome? Capture the Taranaki sunset for 180 years and more?
“No,” i thought to myself. “Surely there will be another one tomorrow.”
That evening’s sunset was downright breathtaking. Deep blues and violets, somber oranges and yellows, and a radiant pink took turns playing on the clouds. The silhouette of Mount Taranaki divided the sky, casting its own shadow towards the heavens. I walked through Inglewood for nearly an hour, soaking up every moment.
And then it rained for nine days straight.
* * *
On one of the dryer evenings, Graham organized a community tandem ride. After the ride, Val and Graham hosted a dinner party. Lord, was it good! I stayed at the house during the ride and stoked a hot fire in their handmade clay oven. Val had made pizza dough from scratch earlier in the day, so, when the time came, everyone got to make their own pizza – roll out the dough, pour the sauce, top it, everything – and then bake it the old-fashioned way. And there was salad, there was smoked fish, there was dessert, there was beer…
And, there was a photo enthusiast in attendance.
Her name was Adrian. She showed up while i was on fire duty (a “sign?” asks the left brain), and we started chatting. Somehow the conversation got back around to the Kodachrome project, and she knew all the technical stuff i was trying to put into plain speak. She told me that she was part of an amateur photography club in New Plymouth. And then the conversation drifted elsewhere.
Later in the evening, i slipped in my question: Do ya know where i could rent or borrow a film camera?
“Mmmm…there’s a man,” she said. “Robert French. He owns a photo store on Devon Street. He’s been a great help to us.” And we looked him up in the phone book straightaway.
That weekend, i caught a ride into New Plymouth. I volunteered at the Hive, i made some cool friends (Shout out, Nao, Nore, and Marion! — that’s American slang for “Hello from here.”) … and i checked out Robert French Photography. It was the same place i had gone the first time i was in New Plymouth!
A “sign?” Or just a small city?
The following more or less represents a good portion of what makes up my day and commute in Washington DC. It was a cold brisk day in December. It also happened to be my 27th birthday.