Despite the archaic sprawl and unaccommodated loneliness pervading America’s byways, there remains the oldest, most striking structures of all. One guards a rocky crest overlooking U.S. Route 19 near Rocky Gap, West Virginia, forming a mise en scène resembling a contemporary play. As if waiting for me to pass, a solitary Ocotillo Cactus stands aside the road in California’s desert. Along Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania, we see power lines stretching over a tree stump, as if to make claim to the territory. Trees sprout up in the most surprising places. During long stretches of time driving, it is difficult not to begin to anthropomorphize, to attribute these trees human characteristics. In cities we have parks deliberately constructed and trees planted according to the phenomenological goals of urban planners. These arboreal roadside companions seem to eschew any of that. Instead they stand as objects of serendipitous beauty, unintentionally placed yet completely appropriate.
— John Sanderson, New York City
Riviera is a new series I photographed in the summer of 2016 in Palm Springs, California. I experimented with many cameras but finally settled on a Fuji instant film camera. I liked the way the camera goes against the grain of fine-art landscape photography, and it somehow captured the grittiness of the city without being too detailed and harsh.
Palm Springs is usually presented through photography as a place to relax and unwind — as a full-time resident, I chose to focus on the incongruous and decaying spaces of the bleak desert city.
— John Brian King, Palm Springs, California, USA
When I was younger, I worked overly-complicated projects. My thesis dealt with chaos theory and was criticized as being a mathematical Waiting for Godot. Now I look at simpler things. I am inspired by color field painters, and surrealists as much as landscape photos and paintings. I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping and my dreams and reality are still separate but by a lesser degree than they used to be. I only develop film about once a month and sometimes I see negatives I have only vague memories of shooting and there’s almost no difference between the memory of making the picture and a dream. To me it’s more about the feel of the shapes and the forms than what the actual content is. I think the pictures are uniquely Midwestern but that is by coincidence not intention. When I’m driving around the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio I see a lot of construction. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how but for me the construction sites have something to do with the sense of isolation of the suburbs, the idea that they are in a constant state of expansion is for me disheartening.
— John Walz, Toledo, Ohio
“He knew at once he found the proper place. He saw the lordly oaks before the house, the flower beds, the garden and the arbor, and farther off, the glint of rails…” — Thomas Wolfe
A common theme in my work is the contextual depiction of structures implying movement.
Space changes around rail lines that remain generations after their construction, places retaining a quality of transience and continual movement. The tracks flow into the distance or cut across a picture, leaving us in wonder; and yet their confident line anchors one to its path. Once bustling depots sit forlorn, objects of aesthetic pride became forgotten white elephants. Elsewhere, tracks flow through immutable mountain passes.
These images are a metaphorical depiction of the railroad spirit that has imbibed the American psyche since its inception. The railroad has often been seen as an avenue of hope, loss, beauty, redemption, and so on. As a document of the contemporary railroad and a realization of Form between a rail line and the environment, these images are couched in a use of light, color, weather and shape that attempt to give the pictures a flickering, temporal quality — the allegorical representation of movement.
— John Sanderson, New York City
The Doĝu Ekspres — the Eastern Express — winds through Turkey from Istanbul to Kars, near the border with Armenia. Without any delays it takes 36 hours — though everyone expects it to be more like two days. Geographically, it leaves the Marmara Plain, rises up to the Anatolian Plateau, enters the eastern mountain ranges and ends up on the edge of the steppe that spreads to Siberia. Culturally it is a journey through Turkey’s complex social diversity and its history as well. It leaves the modern industrialization of Istanbul for large scale agriculture and ends up in a part of the world where ancient farming methods are still practiced if not preferred. Scattered along the way are the remains various empires and cultures have left as signs they once claimed territory as theirs: Greek, Roman, Seljuk, Ottoman, Armenian and Russian. It is a part of the world where every square metre has been fought for, brought under control and often as not abandoned.
— John Toohey, Montreal, Canada
My work offers new ways to document and interpret the contemporary landscape. New visualization and surveillance technologies are changing who we are and how we perceive the world around us. The now ever-present use of satellites, drones, cell phones, GPS and numerous other sensing devices radically reshapes the very meaning of photography, and what it means to record the landscape. My current project — programming a drone to photograph for me — is an experiment to come to terms with these radical new ways to visualize the world around us, and how they affect our very sense of self. A photographer no longer needs to stand anywhere. The use of technology has provided an untethered eye to view with, and a new aesthetic for understanding what the future of imaging has to offer.
— John Viggiano, Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA
Twice a day for ten years, formerly with my companion Barney the dog, I walked a circular route along this small stretch of river close to my home in northern England, often in the pouring rain, frequently in the freezing pitch dark.
I calculate that, taking occasional absences into account, we walked this route approximately nine thousand times.
The river marks a boundary between the city and the arable (farm) lands and is not only a favourite spot for the dumping and burning of stolen cars or for junkies to hang out; but is also used by dog walkers (myself included) and as an adventure playground for the local kids. For many it is invisible, a non-place passed by on the way to greater treasures in the city or the countryside real and as such becomes its own place free of any expectations of ever being more than it is.
— John Darwell, Carlisle, United Kingdom
We mark the land. These photographs portray the Canadian Newfoundland landscape with evidence of human activity. Sometimes land is in transition, altered by the actions of construction. At other times land is marked to delineate a place that is important to people. In all of these, an undifferentiated wilderness has been changed by the imposition of a human order.
These images continue a long-standing interest in photographing the natural world and the intersection of human presence in the natural landscape.
— John King, Clarenville, Canada
In this project, titled Even the Mountains are Shells, I chose to focus on the idea of boundary and co-existence between the built and natural environment. I also wanted to convey a feeling of the relative isolation and the at times difficult way of life. With the traditional income streams gone and a heavy reliance on tourism the balance is finely weighted. It was only through repeated visits that I began to notice the subtle cracks in the tourist picture. Things that a casual visitor wouldn’t pay a great deal of attention to I made my focus. The title of the work references the empty shop fronts, encroachment of nature and the notion of the land as a commodity, reliant on man to be re-imagined to another use. There is also an element of my own personal response to the area. Having made a previous project (Cynefin) in the same place I wanted to see things from a different perspective.
— John Wellings, Swansea, Wales, UK
The images presented in No Place grew out of my interest in exploring the American landscape and the ways in which people alter it. When driving on photographic trips through the sprawling suburbs, I was struck by the amount of space given to large shopping centers and chain stores. I began asking myself, “Why do we need all these parking lots, fast food restaurants, and big box stores?”
These spaces force you to navigate them by car because of how spread out they are. Furthermore, a lot of these big box stores close or go out of business very fast, leaving vast vacant acres of asphalt and cavernous empty stores throughout our landscape. Once I began photographing these spaces I realized how much our landscape is changing.
Americans have undergone a paradigm shift in the places where we shop and dwell. We have traded in mom & pop stores and main street for big box stores and highways. Everything is fast, cheap, and easily available, like a fast food value meal. But like a value meal, what’s the true cost?
— John Lusis, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA