"I come and I depart," writes Whitman at the end of the passage of "Song of Myself" that depicts the city streets in concrete detail. More than anything else, such a wandering attention to the city, to its "show" and "resonance," is at the diaristic heart of my work. Avoiding as much as possible premeditated concerns and themes, I want less to depict the city as to gather up heterogenous materials for its reimagining. The images are often very concerned with structuring the frame, but just as important to me, perhaps more important, are the various tensions and disruptions that shift against the proposed orders of the pictures, that worry and subvert their stated or implied grids.
My roots as a photographer are most in the street tradition of Robert Frank, William Eggleston, and Walker Evans, but just as important to me are the barely human geometries of Renaissance ideal cityscapes, the perspectives of the church paintings of Pieter Saenredram, and the very handmade idealism emerging from the abstracted facades and streets of Mondrian. More generally, I've been very influenced by my longstanding interest in avant-garde film: most pervasively by Ken Jacobs' extraordinary openness to the city and its images; by the ideographic imagination of Stuart Sherman; by the floating associativeness of Warren Sonbert and the encyclopedic ordering of city and country of Hollis Frampton's Zorn's Lemma; and by the city's transmutation into myth in the work of Jack Smith. Wandering through and photographing the streets of New York for Smith raised up possibilities of an urban photography more imaginative than documentary (though, as photography, it is always also that) and I find continuing inspiration in the city as once envisioned by him in an interview:
. . . in the middle of the city should be a repository of objects that people don't want anymore, which they would take to this giant junkyard. That would form an organization, a way that the city would be organized . . . the city organized around that. I think this center of unused objects and unwanted objects would become a center of intellectual activity. Things would grow up around it.
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