Abandoned Things is an ongoing series of infrared landscape photographs. Using cameras converted to record light in the infrared portion of the spectrum, Abandoned Things presents photographs of abandoned cars, boats, houses, trailers, gas stations, and other debris found in the landscapes of California, Nevada, the American West, and beyond. By relying on the false colors assigned to record light from the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we cannot see, Abandoned Things highlights the otherworldly and unknowable visual qualities of relics of the past. Twenty-one photographs from the series will be exhibited at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, California from January 10 through February 3, 2024.
We know about the past through history, memory, and relics. That the past is different from the present is its foremost attraction. Photography is critical in shaping our knowledge of the past, as a physical record of the past, as a stimulus to memory, and through the creation of visual artifacts of the past. Relics of the past are the tangible past, simultaneously of the past and the present, and this tension highlights their unique visual attraction.
Photography creates meaning through context and interpretation, sharing this condition with the relics of the past. The subjective meanings taken from photographs are a feature that photography shares with the past and with the relics of the past. Looking through the viewfinder, it is impossible to compress all the landscape into the photograph, nor is it possible to know all the past by studying history, memory, or relics.
The beauty and fascinations disclosed by the relics of the past point us to the uncertainties of life and suggest that life is random, that change underlies existence, and that poetry residences in both the spectacular and the ordinary. None of the relics of the past presented in the series Abandoned Things offer the complex drama of Greek, Roman, or Aztec ruins. Rather, these discarded things suggest that the beauty of the relics of the past is more fragile but equally fascinating.