T4 : Exploratory Project Evaluation

In its execution, the project diverted from the intention. Despite this, the forensic investigations went well; all Ruscha’s gasoline stations were found, albeit with the assistance of others. Tracking down “Bob’s Service” somewhere in LA, the last of the sites to be found, provided me with a certain level of satisfaction. The effect of immersing the prints in diesel was pleasing, although not at all what I expected, which was that the pigment would be affected rather than the paper.

At this point I have to accept that one or two may be wrong, that the findings of others have led me to view places that didn’t sit right with me (Standard, Williams the prime example). Others used empirical evidence though, including copies of the 1962 regional Yellow Pages, something I could not access. It’s been 50-odd years, maybe things changed more than I anticipated.

My intention was that I would marry Ruscha’s 26 stations with a similar number from my own locale. The area I chose resulted in just half that number (12, plus a disused one), so this was disappointing. Still, it allowed the project to progress in the way that it did, rather than being constricted by reductive initial planning.

I would have preferred it in terms of the “object” if the resulting images weren’t so transient. As the diesel dries (which takes weeks), the patterning of the paper changes, becoming tighter and less aesthetically pleasing. This transience provides some metaphoric resonance to the subject matter though, so maybe it is appropriate. However, I now have no idea what will be seen at assessment.

In terms of the process, I’ve missed “normal” photography – I’ve not used a camera except for the local petrol station side of the project and for recording of the diesel objects at a point in time. Having said that, maybe I’m realising its more a means to an end, that I should be more accommodating

The Internet is quite some resource! Without it, this project would not have existed in the way it does. Google Street View is pretty awesome in itself, but then there’s the access to other artists that have worked with Ruscha’s ideas. I’d have been stuck without them.

This was all a big risk, if truth be told. From using GSV to immersing prints in diesel, it’s a long way from what I would normally do and way outside my comfort zone, (technique and results). I’ve wanted to use GSV in the past, but it always seemed inappropriate, but here I’ve been able to make it go the distance, see it through to some sense of completion.

I’m not sure how this can be directly taken forward within my practice. Will I ever use GSV again? Maybe, but probably not. I very much doubt that I will be using diesel in my photography again either, other than for what it was intended and driving me to somewhere I want to photograph. That is perhaps the major realisation I’ve reached; it’s the journey I’m constantly drawn to. I thought it was landscape, but I’m more interested in the getting there than the subject. I think my recurring muse is the journey, whether it be physical, temporal or metaphorical. That is something I want to take forward.
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