Faculty Work Then & Now
MFA Thesis Work
Our perception of the American landscape is inevitably informed by events that are said to have taken place on a given site, just as our understanding of history is influenced by the landscape that is its necessary backdrop. Contemporary cinema has come to play an increasingly important role in complicating these associations by shifting the textual representation of history to a Hollywood simulacrum that combines mythology, fiction and entertainment with notions of truth, historical record and the illusion of reality. American Histories is a series of color photographs that explores this progressively complex relationship between landscape, history and film.
Each photograph in the series looks at a specific site that is tied to a particularly significant or disturbing event. These events are culled from history as well as cinema and are comprised of both fact and fiction, or some combination of the two. The accompanying text details the events associated with each place in a manner that invokes reportage and the objective tone of historical analysis. Issues of conflict and violence in our history and culture are prevalent throughout the text but the places that remain are at times quiet, seductive and ignorantly beautiful. By combining film narratives with historical events into a classical, documentary format of text and image, the series addresses photography’s role in the entanglement between media, representation and truth.
Somewhere Along the Line
From 2011 to 2017 I traveled over 100,000 miles by car, focusing my camera on the massive network of superhighways that has become ubiquitous throughout the United States. Whether located within an urban environment or leading out to the last remnants of wilderness, these roadways have been designed to suppress any distinguishing characteristics of place and instead construct a familiar and uniform system of functional spaces built for mobility and productivity. Rather than moving quickly through these spaces however, I have made the decision to slowly and deliberately dwell within them, looking for unforeseen moments of humor, pathos and humanity. My photographs look at the road as a stage where narratives play out and opposing forces often collide. The boundaries that line these landscapes, whether real or imagined, are examined by looking at the separations between public and private space, privilege and need, the individual and the collective, and the countervailing ideas of home and escape. The resulting compilation of photographs depicts the state of America’s infrastructure as a cultural indicator of its economic, social and environmental circumstances.
Find more of Joshua’s work on on his website.