“The moon is brighter since the barn burned down.” – Chinese Proverb
Sometimes in my travels I come across barns. I travel a lot. I photograph wherever I am. My job has required me to get around locally and regionally as well and there are farms all over Western NY. I have friends that live all over the area too. Naturally, I see a lot of barns when I travel to visit them. As an artist, I’ve always been drawn to blue highways and photographing rural landscapes (like this one).
And sometimes I do come upon scenes like the ones below that make me stop and take a photograph of a barn, as so many people do.
“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.
A long silence followed.
“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”
He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated side, replaced at once by others.
“We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”
There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.
“Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be a part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”
– from White Noise by Don DeLillo
A long time ago, a boyfriend in Kansas City pointed me to Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon because of my love of the open road. These days, my travel is largely work related and consists of getting into airplanes and making my way from city to city. I love cities. And it is for that reason that I also pine for the open road as an escape from time to time. Sometimes just driving and soaking in the scenery is like vitamins to me, even if I never take a single photograph.
I was driving along Seneca Turnpike near Clinton, NY when I came upon this strange scene and decided to stop and investigate. I’m sure there’s a story here, but I have no idea what it could possibly be.
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do, especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat-Moon
“A car whipped past, the driver eating and a passenger clicking a camera. Moving without going anywhere, taking a trip instead of making one. I laughed at the absurdity of the photographs and then realized I, too, was rolling effortlessly along, turning the windshield into a movie screen in which I, the viewer, did the moving while the subject held still. That was the temptation of the American highway, of the American vacation (from the Latin vacare, “to be empty”).”
― William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways
As an artist with a full-time job that I’m also very dedicated to, I have to find ways to stay sharp in my artistic practice. I call it creative yoga. Time for getting out and about photographing is not always plentiful. I usually just photograph wherever I am in my travels, which is how the Newspaper Series came to be.
This little side project centered around a playful searching for wind turbines has been fun. It reminded me of the days when I was an art student and the only way I could see the world was if I hopped in my car, or my boyfriend’s car and drove off onto the open road. I’ve seen much of the US that way. Since moving to Buffalo, I’ve made it a regular practice to drive around WNY during Fall months photographing the fiery landscapes bursting with crimson, orange and gold. With winter looming and more travel away from the area ahead, I may have to wait until next Fall to pick up from here. I very much look forward to it.
While searching for windmills, I found this…
― Anne Carson