Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Scrapbook as Source Material

Matt McCormick, Vista House, 2011

Ever since I received the press release one month and four days ago, I haven't stopped thinking about Matt McCormick's latest project. From the Elizabeth Leach Gallery website: "The seed of
The Great Northwest, Matt McCormick’s second solo exhibition at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, is a scrapbook, created in 1958 by four friends, and found by McCormick in a thrift shop. This scrapbook details a 3400 mile road trip undertaken by Sissie, Berta, Klarus, and Bev, a group of thirty-something-year-old single women from Ballard, WA. McCormick himself recreated their trip, attempting to pinpoint and visit all the locations documented in their meticulous travel journal. He became interested in creating his own documentation, using the more contemporary media of digital photography and HD video, focusing his attention on the ways things had changed, and the ways they hadn’t. McCormick encountered entire towns that had disappeared, and a completely new Interstate system. Featuring a beautifully photographed 75-minute film with an ambient soundtrack The Great Northwest reminds the viewer of the fragility of history, of the swift passage of time."

Matt McCormick, Crater Lake, 2011

I relate to so many aspects of McCormick's project: the found object/found photograph, making art from a road trip, leaving this artifact to dictate the nature of the expedition (giving up control), the location (Northwest = home), and the sense of loss (evident in finding this object in a thrift store and also in the location no longer as it once was). In addition, the comparison between what was then and that which is now in grainy black-and-white photographs vs. contemporary digital imagery relates to my interest in old photographs of Land Art.

Matt McCormick, Glacier, 2011

Needless to say, I love this series! It hasn't left my mind in over a month and I keep stalling on blogging about it because it's helping me answer a few questions about what to do with my own thrift store scrapbook. Perhaps Matt is giving me permission to follow the example set before me. Although his book produced an unforgettable road trip (and mine will not), I'm going to consider his process and employ it in my own way (stay tuned).

Matt McCormick, Oregon Coast, 2011

In the meantime, I'll dream of Astoria, Oregon that looks quite like McCormick's photograph above. I haven't gone back to that home in two years. It's time. This summer... it's time. Yes, it has changed and that is all part of the "loss."

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