These images are from my project called Vistas — views from a few Superfund and brownfield sites in Western New York, not far from my home. These three images were made at the Albion MGP Superfund Site near the Erie Canal, in Albion, New York. They were taken on June 28, 2016.
Superfund – CERCLA is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. Initially the fund was financed with a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries, but since 2001 funding has come from U.S. taxpayers.
I started this project because I wanted to get to know my neighborhood a little bit better.
— Robert Doyle, Perry, New York, USA
All over the countryside in North West Leicestershire there are rocks, concrete blocks, tree stumps and piles of earth in lay-bys, property entrances and field gateways. What is going on, or, more precisely, what is being stopped from going on?
I first photographed the reason for the blocks at the same time as the first of the blocks themselves, early one bright Sunday morning at a roundabout near my village, where a small group of travellers had set up camp alongside the road. Part of a lay-by off the roundabout had been cut off with huge rocks from one of the local quarries.
As is the way with these sorts of things, once you notice one example, you see a lot more. So I went out to investigate and found many more around the county. Every field, empty factory, lay-by and dead end bit of roadway was blocked in the same way. I also started to notice a lot of traveller home sites; little bits of land that had been colonised and turned into homesteads. Then I found one homestead that had been completely burnt out. It didn’t look like it was an accident. I realised that this was more than just dealing with a minor inconvenience; that there was a fairly serious issue of a clash of lifestyle and thinking going on; one that may never be resolved. Although I am not religious, it reminded me of a quote from the Christian Bible that I had heard a long time ago: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
— Robert Ashby, Swannington, Leicestershire, England
I photograph the landscape around me, the landscape I see in my day-to-day travels and activities. This includes the picturesque as well as the discarded. These images have been collected into a series of monthly or bi-monthly journals that I have self-published thru Blurb.
The images can be arranged in a few broad categories: memorials, commercial properties (closed and thriving), intersections (urban and rural), pastoral (urban and rural). When put together they build a portrait of my activity in my environment/community.
It was the closed commercial properties that I started with in 2010. I was driving about 200 miles a day for my job, taking the same route each day for about five months. One starts to see things after a while that one may not normally see. I would pass through many small towns between Naples and Rochester as well as parts of Rochester, urban and suburban that were vacant, for rent/sale/or lease — evidence of a shift in the economy.
I often use the panorama format because I am interested in the context of the thing/place I am photographing. I do not want to isolate. I want to show where it is and what is around it.
When my job changed, my route became more varied, almost random. Other elements/subjects start to appear. The memorials I am finding very interesting at this point. Some mourn, some celebrate. They are everyplace — sometimes conspicuous sometimes hidden.
In my journals you can see the annual cycle, winter, giving way to spring and summer. Then the very gradual coming of fall before the snows and the sky turns gray. You can also see signs of a multinational corporate presence in our rural areas, industrial farming, an economy that is in a tail-spin. You can see the evidence of national and global conflict and the players in that game as well as occasional signs of hope.
— Robert Doyle, Gainesville, New York, USA
Attendance at traditional religious services in the United States has declined dramatically in recent years. Meanwhile, immigration patterns since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act have markedly altered the ethnic and religious landscape of the United States. As a result, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, and Reform and Conservative Synagogues that used to comprise the majority of the religious landscape of the Northeastern US have taken on new uses.
Sacred Spaces in Transition examines the sustainability of religious communities in Central New York, alongside their ethnic and linguistic identities. Religious communities, throughout history, across the world, have set aside built structures for purposes of ritual gatherings, just as these spaces also reaffirm the identity and cohesion of the group for themselves and to mark themselves toward the “outsiders” in the proximate area. Through photographs and video documentation of spaces, and interviews with religious officiants, we hope to explore these changes and reveal the complexities of contemporary religious culture in our communities.
— Robert Knight, Clinton, New York, USA
All across the world a uniform, homogeneous model of development, inspired by Los Angeles style urban sprawl – consisting of massive freeways, parking lots, shopping malls and large-scale master-planned communities with golf courses – is being stamped onto the earth’s topography. With this anonymous type of development not only comes the destruction of the environment, but also a loss of culture and roots, as well as alienation. This globalized model of architecture does not respect or adapt itself to the natural or cultural environment onto which it is implanted. As we have seen in recent history, fervent overdevelopment has led to crises, not only financial, but also environmental and social, and some even say psychological.
I began working on Anonymization in Los Angeles over twelve years ago. Since then I have been traveling around the world photographing the spread of “L.A. style development” in Las Vegas, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Dubai and South Korea. The world was in the midst of a construction boom when I began the project. In the meantime most cranes have come to a screeching halt.
— Robert Harding Pittman, Madrid, Spain
I’m looking for the facts of estrangement and impulse.
Trying to photograph the abrasions and remnants that squirm out when circumstance takes a small hold of place. Abrasions that in chorus can be elegant with tenderness and violence, and while disparate, when re-articulated in the new structure a photographic sequence can echo-out or be amplified.
— Robert Chilton, London, United Kingdom
The houses in which people live all over the world are very different. In Germany, you used to be able to tell from the way a house was built in which region it was situated. Nowadays this is less and less the case. The availability of all possible construction materials has led to a standardization and uniformity of residential architecture. Each house can be found in any place in Germany. As everything is technically feasible, more and more anonymous, more-complicated and bizarre houses have been built. Simple designs have become a rarity.
Uniformity and banality on the one hand, and uniqueness and weirdness on the other hand, are of course a big attraction for the photographer. Therefore, these homes have been one my favorite subjects for many years.
What excites me about these houses can be well explained by the example picture:
At first glance, the viewer sees an unspectacular multi-family house that is very common for Germany, with a simple aesthetic. Utilitarian architecture without any artistic or creative value. However, if we take the time to have a closer look, a three-dimensional residential building with garages, a paved courtyard and a grass strip becomes a two-dimensional structure.
Upon closer examination, the realistic depiction of the house becomes more and more abstract, a picture composed of vertical and horizontal lines, colors and surfaces, of rhythmic subdivisions and geometric structures that make the real individual objects almost disappear. Instead, the forms and colors develop their own aesthetic quality. In fact, the photographic reality increasingly questions reality as we generally see it. The mundane and banal become something special.
The three-dimensionality only returns when the viewer’s gaze focuses on the trees in the background on the left or the bush on the right. Only these minor details are actually capable of dissolving the level of abstraction the photography has attained and of again restoring a sense of reality.
— Robert Schlaug, Nueremberg, Germany
This body of work, titled New Line, documents the space inhabited by a small alternative community in the West of Ireland. By exploring the private world created by the people that live here, this work adopts a silent and contemplative tone and seeks to engage with this space and its inhabitants, rather than expose it. Through carefully-negotiated access and many discussions, this work becomes a catalyst of my experience and the time spent making the work. Carried out over the period of a year, the images reveal the harsh depths of winter and the warm fertility of summer. The images tell the stories of the people that belong here, but only ever show a glimpse of their presence.
— Robert Ellis, Ballyvaughan, Ireland