“It is the journey that is the objective, not the end place where we are going.”
Godfrey Reggio describes this as a way to approach viewing his film, Koyaanisqatsi. My interests lie in wandering, observing and understanding my urban environment. While spaces formed from architecture, shadows involved in underpasses, and linear patterns located in antennae and electrical wires intrigued me initially, my understanding of the definition of place has developed far beyond the literal nature of external appearances.
My work has evolved to scrutinize the social and historical landscapes as well. It has grown to illustrate not just the particulars of a physical site, but the details of elements that move within, affect and comprise a place. Beginning a project by posing questions, I devise a list of possible activities that may serve as formulas to locate answers. Each exercise sets out to gather data. Rather than selecting subject matter on account of aesthetic qualities, the imagery created is part of the process of discovery.
Elements such as color, line and scale are not arbitrary, but formulated in response to observation. Compiling information in this restricted manner allows patterns of common denominators to be extracted while also retaining the uniqueness of each situation.
The series, “Locating Rainbows: (Formed Each Day within the City Bus by Individual Passengers)” was derived from months of utilizing Detroit’s public transportation system. It began with the question, “Can I locate a rainbow from Jefferson Avenue to Eight Mile?” Not to be bound by the scientific criteria of “rainbow,” these drawings are constructed by plotting colors as they come and go within the bus for the duration of the (Woodward Northbound) route. Using the apparel and belongings of fellow bus-riders as a point of reference, color-coded text describes and plots each item according to where each rider chooses to sit; Essentially mapping the location of colors within the bus. Back at the studio, a second layer of transparent paper is placed over the text. Using the color-coded text as plotted points, I draw colored lines to connect the “dots.” Each “rainbow” is unique as each one is constructed from data gathered from a different day.
My experiences on the bus provide visual source material, but also document patterns relative to the here and now. Clothes offer clues to the culture of a place on many levels. Simplified to color-coded descriptive text, they become signifiers, indicating age, sex, occupation, climate and of course, personality.
photo: PD Rearick