Wednesday, April 21, 2010

County Road 16 (Near Longmont, CO)

During my recent visit to Colorado (highlighted by a tour of Denver's Colfax Avenue neon signage) I also took some time to photograph a set of farm ruins 28 miles north of Denver (Google Map). Two days of intermittent rain had broken for a spell, and the temporary promise of blue skies called me south. Storm clouds advanced further into the horizon, and I knew these shots wouldn't last long. Thank goodness for rental cars and frontage roads!

It's hard to say exactly why I'm attracted to ruins. Part of it is the challenge of finding some geometry within the collapse of planes and surfaces. As with so many things, the balance is always internal. By way of illustration, imagine a path across a hobbled surface of decomposing boards. You and a friend survey the safest direction to cross from one side to the other, the path that will avoid hidden nails and the dangers of collapse. Yet you see different trajectories and follow individual courses. You look at your friend and wonder, "why'd she take that path?" That's sort of what I mean about the individual nature of composition, especially with abandoned buildings. There's no one correct way to photograph them.

My pictures are, obviously, little more than snapshots. Partially I accepted that limitation with my choice of camera, a tiny Canon Elph purchased for hassle-free travel (lugging our D5000 cross-country via increasingly constraining airport rules is sometimes not worth the effort). But mostly these pictures reflect a roadside perspective based on flash-moments, not deep encounters. Like the ruins themselves, each experience lives briefly and then fades from view (the difference, one might say, between auto-ethnography and autoethnography). I was here; then I wasn't.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

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