ZOXIV (2014)

Communication through photographs is at best a real problem. The medium is colder than ice. Gone is the hand that made the image. Gone are the reasons that forced the image into existence.


But, it is a democratic medium. For the cost of a camera and (perhaps) no talent, anyone can make an image that pleases them. This was especially true in 2014, when a camera-phone (think about the concept of a camera in a phone before computers) is just about in anyone's reach.


The photographs here are particularly daring (or stupid, I can't decide which). They are simply images that strike me, culled from a few thousand 'travel' photographs. I have no idea if they are 'any good', or if that even matters. I hope that they communicate, but I am not even sure how they communicate to me. The strike me. They last with me. To say that they 'haunt' me is too strong, but it is something like that.


Some of the photographs I am not even sure I like. The woman with her back to the camera is one example. Through months of culling, that image just kept sneaking back in to the 'best' pile.

Observer, Fort Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

I hope that the viewer of these photographs has a bit of patience, and will feel something of what I do about these. At least appreciate some of the stupid things contained in the images. Hence this writing—perhaps a bit of a window to help you, the viewer. Here is the breakdown:

2 photographs of couples. Sometimes called 'creeper shots', but I take umbrage at that moniker. These are us in our natural habitat. In the first one it is pretty clear what it going on. Lives wrapped around each other as in the developing embrace.


The second one is more opaque. Partly because of the chance location of a tree branch, it is unclear what it going on. The poses seem to suggest conflict, but perhaps not. Maybe they are just looking at a map. Photographs can be coy.

Embrace, Denver, Colorado

Couple, Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota

2 (1) photograph(s) of animals. Dog in classic pose. A few photographs back from this one is a woman laying on the beach (second small image at right). This was the image I thought would last through the edits, but it didn't.

Dog, Mahoney Beach, Nova Scotia

Okay, so the other photograph isn't of an animal per se, but the whole point is that it has the same karma as an animal. Just a rock though. One of many rocks that call Nova Scotia home.

Rock, Taylors Head, Nova Scotia

1 photograph of a painting. Again, photographs can be coy. And murals too. This is reportage of a mural in a small town. I don't know what is going on here. My feeling is that it depicts a storm (see lightning on the horizon) that zapped the wagon train out of existence.

Mural, Lost Nation, Iowa

1 photograph of a family. Revisiting people in their natural habitat. There is something really cool about us gathering to admire what we have done. This is the WWI memorial in Kansas City, and in the background is the Western Auto sign that even more powerfully defines the city. I also like the red, green, and blue color scheme. We don't build enough big stuff out of stone anymore.

World War I Memorial, Kansas City, Kansas

1 photograph of a gesture. Okay, there is more than one, and this one is like the family one above in that it thrives on the concept of 'tourism'. Nature itself is not much fun. Cutting your way through forests wondering where dinner will come from. But nature with a path is great. Especially when you know dinner and a nice bed is near. Oh, and the gesture... well, you can see that yourself. Slightly off, slightly askew, slightly obscured. Keep on Trucking for the 21st Century.

Walker, Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

1 photograph of pissed park administrator. The act of photography can get pretty aggressive, and usually I don't buy into that. But small acts of disobedience are a-okay. The park people were getting ready to fire a canon, and to that end had to clear the tourists away from an area unconnected with the firing. I was out of the pocket, so after giving me a dirty look (see photo), the park administrator told me I was not in a designated canon-firing-watching-spot, but dangerously five feet outside of one. I moved back to my fellow tourists.

Cannon Firing, Fort Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

3 photographs of cars. On the plus side there are many things I like, but don't concern myself with photographing. Like the food on my plate. On the negative side there are things I like that I do photograph. Like cars. Cars are cool. Metal jackets that protect you from the elements and get you where you want to go. They also have personality—they are made to. Mean like tanks or cute like beetles and everything else between.


So cars lend themselves to stories in which they are humanized (e.g. My Mother the Car, that Kit show, Flubber, etcetera). The first photograph is a a car version of skeet shooting. The truck is dutifully waiting its turn.


The second is a bug stuck on a roof. We elevate our heroes.


The third car photograph is a warped version of the criminal mind's lab. The nozzle has either just spit out the landscape and cars or is about to suck them back in. The cars here are especially stupid. These are two of many examples of awkward Oldsmobile design that littered the land around where this photograph was taken.

Cars, Parnell, Iowa

Car Wash, Delta, Iowa

Oldsmobiles, Webster, Iowa

1 photograph of Peggy's Cove. Ignoring the innuendo of the name, the shore of this place is one of the most beautiful places on earth. That sounds trite, but it is true. Makes it even better when a bunch of us tourists dot the landscape. Big sea, big rocks, tiny people.

Tourists, Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

1 photograph of a swimmer. I think at this point you might be recognizing a bit of a theme with big landscapes and tiny people. I like it. I like being a tiny person in big nature. At least when it is well-tamed (I keep up this illusion).

Swimmer, Temperance River, Minnesota

1 photograph of a wave. This is really a lot like the tiny people photographs. It is an ocean wave, perhaps about five inches high. Talk about potential mood swings. It is a  MACRO micro sort of thing.

Small Wave, Taylors Head, Nova Scotia

1 photograph of a sign. Well, not really a sign, but a strange sort of landscape that is at once banal and transcendent. Somewhere down the line some candy-like colors crept into this photograph, pitched their tents and refused to leave. This is the Bay of Fundy, where tide levels vary by fifty feet. With any water levels that change (like floods) I try to draw imaginary level lines to see where the water would come to at the highest.

Sign, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

2 photographs of the horizon. When I was a kid I asked my father how far a person can see. He said three miles. I know now he was just trying to shut me up, but somehow I still believe it, and still gaze at that three mile mark on the horizon. These are both unabashedly pretty photographs divided into halves for easy viewing.


In the first photograph is a bird, who is somewhat less than three miles away. In the second there is a farm. Both are of the sea.

Ocean, Near Digsby, Nova Scotia

Field, Near Maynard, Iowa

1 photograph of blur. Periodically I revel in blur (not bokeh). Kind of like vision, kind of not. About the blossoms—I was in a particularly 1950s mood earlier in the year, and I was especially keen to recreate the photographs of blossoms that blossomed when Kodachrome became widely used. Something so immediate about it: Hey look—color! And I have color film!

Blossoms, Kansas City, Kansas

2 photograph of the woods. I take far too many pictures of trees. Really. I know it. The first photograph was taken in a pine forest in the Colorado Rockies. It was early in the morning near a lake. The day before someone was showing me a photograph he had taken with his cell-phone of the lake. He told me that if I got there right when the sun came up the lake was like a mirror. I went to take a photograph like his—photography as bonding, admitting we are all of the same club. Anyway, I had no intention of taking a photograph like this one.

Woods, Near Almont, Colorado

The second photograph is of Kate with my shadow. The situation just presented itself. This is one where I knew I had something I really liked when I pressed the button, and it held up. Probably a year from now this kind of thing will be a meme and there will be thousands of photographs just like it but better. But for now it is mine. And I hers. (ah, jee, shucks)

Kate, Cedar Bend, Iowa