South of Klamath Falls

Stephen Shore photographed his iconic South of Klamath Falls in 1973. It's probably one of the first of his photographs I remember seeing, although maybe it actually wasn't. Many of his photographs are "ordinary" and don't necessarily stick quite so readily in the memory banks. In the video interview (below) he talks about how Klamath Falls is so obviously a photograph - "it didn't take a great leap of imagination", whereas the 70s lamp isn't, although it has become nostalgic. It was about what it looks like. Whilst I can't revisit Shore's hotel room, this is sort of what's at the heart of my After Stephen Shore project; to see what it looks like now.



With South of Klamath Falls being so iconic and significant for me, I was really happy to have found what looks like the location on GSV, the result of painstakingly moving along the road and seeing what the next section looks like, seeing if there are any clues that the location might be the same. In this case, unfortunately the billboard has gone, but there is enough to make me think it is right. Shore's journey is being layered with another temporal journey, an evidential progression that indeed illustrates what the passage of time has done to a space.

This comparison Shore makes in the video also brings in something I've long thought about, the fact that the meaning of photographs changes over time. I can imagine that, back in 1974, a large format photograph of a lamp in a hotel room will have been highly progressive. "It's not art" - still life "art" photography will still have been thought about in many corners as something the likes of Kertész made with his La Fourchette from 1928. Of course, this was changing as the modernists were being edged out, but Shore's photograph pre-dated Eggleston's colour MoMA show in 1976 which was credited as heralding the arrival of colour photography in the art world. Back to my point though, Shore states the image has become "nostalgic". All the "banal" or otherwise ordinary things that are being photographed today will soon disappear. Perhaps as the nature of our society changes, they will disappear more quickly in physical terms, but will probably have been recorded in one way or another by the plethora of photographs taken. Granted, not all these photographs are "art", there a lot of Facebook and Flickr dross out there, but there are a lot of people working in the arts that do record, do document in an aesthetically pleasing and intellectually questioning way. That's something I like about photography - it can be both documentary and art at the same time. Yeah, the other arts can do as well, but photography does it for me.

loeil de la photographie
Decryptage : Stephen Shore, South of Klamath Falls, 1973
L'Oeil de la Photographie

Klamath Falls
US97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, October 2013

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