Devon Jarvis asked me for a print donation for their school fundraiser-if you are landing here and you bought it this is all for you!
So you are wondering what is the flyover states thing?
It occurred to me that I need a very definite statement about the work and I have tried to do my best in the past, however the benefit of distance and time now lets me see more clearly what was going on.
Work begets work as Richard Serra says and in this fashion, the flyover states were born out of the Gowanus work that I started when I moved to the new neighbourhood in 2005. It also began out of a shift from film to digital that was taking place at that time. I had just acquired a Canon 10D and the miracle of that camera was the ability to change ISO freely, not being stuck with 400ISO all the time. It gave a me a freedom to shoot at all times of the day and night and with this I got inspired to photograph the Gowanus area as many photographers near here have, its desolation, broad horizons, all things that are somewhat different from the typical busy urban New York setting.
At the same time I had was still shooting film so doubled up, shooting the canon and the leica with a big bag of expired film I had collected in the freezer. It seemed a cheap and cheerful way of keeping the reflex exercised. I even shot transparency because that was what was in the fridge, and I’ve never really liked transparency.
The Gowanus work led to getting back in to street photography in 2006. This was a full on return to my roots in 1989 when I began to seriously pursue photography in Toronto. I stuck with the leica and bw film so there was a mix of things on the roll, street work and some Gowanus images all at that time.
After about a year and half I had more or less exhausted the Gowanus vein, so I was looking for a way to extend the work using the principals of street photography, looking for intersections, moments, new facts that aren’t always facts, the things that street teaches you, how the camera sees differently from the eye. So the confluence of that was this picture that showed up one day on my contact sheets:
The is the “Ur”-Flyover State. I think walking home from the R train on 4th Avenue I started to follow the jet and wondered how it would coincide with the aerial atop the car service nearby- it looked like it would fit right on top but the geometry worked out like this.
There was something about this picture that stuck with me, the fluffy innocuous cloud, the grain, the needle form, and silhouette of the jet. A game began for me at that point, perhaps it would be possible to intentionally stick that jet on the pin as if it was meant to be there. This is how photography takes something and makes an impossible fact possible.
Of course you could do this in photoshop in a quick second, but that was not the point, it was about creating this intersection and then seeing what it looked like. Not all of them were equal. Why some are better or worse is really what photography is all about, sometimes it is a picture and sometimes it is not. Sometimes I get the jet on the pin and most times I did not. It’s really harder than it looks.
After a while I gave up on that and started working with jet trails, intersections, shapes, etc. Extending the vocabulary of the idea. It was never about getting a big picture of an aircraft like you see those ones at the beach in St. Maarten, the behemoth form inches from the ground, for me it was better the smaller it got, the more it dissolved into grain, the more it just became a field of tone. The image you purchased was shot on the digital Leica M8, and the ccd sensor does have that quality of graininess that film does, only smoother. I was never into grain for grain sake either. I also feel that the size is important too, they need to be large, the 17×22 you have is about right, although larger would be great too.
The car service is gone now, the aerial moved to the south side of 4th Ave at 9th street, and is crooked. For all sorts of reasons it doesn’t work any more now for me, so effectively the series is over. It is an arbitrary way of finishing.
Flyover States July 2009
Anyway, I hope it finds a comfortable place in your home.