As I sit here and type this blog post, I am reminded of the importance of a photographer actually printing out their work. Photos take on a new meaning and purpose as they become tangible objects to hold and view. I am as guilty as the new photographer who has loads of files in their hard drives left for no one to discover. I am changing this as of right now. Today is the day I put my foot down. Yes, it can be expensive to print every captured image I have ever photographed, but how else will it exist? Hard drives fail. The electricity to access a hard drive might not be available in the future. Internet regulations might take forth and we won’t have access to our lovely “Clouds”. So, now it begins.
A few years ago, I photographed the Los Angeles River. I keep going back and rephotographing different areas. It is so vast and inspirational on it’s own. From spray paint on actual living trees, to homeless people living in the waterways, there is nothing more poetic about this life force of water that is caged in concrete.
We have become a society that tries to conform nature, much like we do to our children, to fit our needs. We build up walls to keep them contained. When they act up, we control them to fit society’s expectations. When they stray the wrong way, we force them to conform. As we progress, they are objects of neglect. This is what has happened to the Los Angeles River.
The Los Angeles River once flowed free throughout Los Angeles County. It would flow in S-shapes and change which direction its curve went seasonally. When it rained, the river would swell and take out all homes and farms in its path toward the ocean. The City basically considered this river a terrorist and enclosed it in concrete in the 1930s.
This series shows the Los Angeles River as it exists in 2014. The rocks in the river are all made of concrete. Life is finding a way to exist in this concrete habitation. Though a disrespect for Mother Nature, mankind has made its mark and it will take centuries for Nature to return to its natural state. Living in close proximity to the Los Angeles River, I feel as though I can relate to this river. Life in the City puts a lot of restrictions on you. There are laws and ordinances conforming your living quarters to set parameters. At what cost must we keep sacrificing our freedoms for the sake of greed?
When I began photographing, I wanted to document how people were disrespecting Mother Nature by spray painting trees. The more I began to photograph, the more I realized how we as a society have disrespected Nature. We have imprisoned a river and because of it have suffered due to the ground water going straight to the ocean. I learned about the history of the Los Angeles River. It all seems like a waste of good water mixed with beautiful architecture. I began photographing mankind’s art build to cage the river. There are dams, tunnels, walls, and well-constructed bridges. Occasionally, you can see plants growing through the concrete barriers. The water follows the path it was forced in to.
I toned all of the images a lifeless, depressing blue. This is somewhat of a digital cyanotype. It helps show the sorrow the river would feel if it could express its emotions. It is also, poetically, a blueprint documentation of the river as it exits in this moment.
These images are framed to rely on form. Lines lead the viewer’s eyes to repetition and in the direction of the river. The River is shown as separate, a forgotten feature of Los Angeles. There are barriers all around. It is a prison or a tomb to bring on the timely death of the river.