reFramed: In conversation with fine art photographer AndrewBush
Framework, the photography and video blog of the Los Angeles Times, is launching a visual series titled reFramed. This bimonthly feature curated by staff photographer Barbara Davidson will showcase fine art photography and vision-forward photojournalism.
Andrew Bush, a native of St. Louis, came to Los Angeles to attend college in 1975 and has been intermittently pursuing the Vector Portraits series since 1989. Captured on the expansive roadways of Los Angeles and across the West, the work speaks to a democratic American ideal–not just that of the open road, but the personal vehicular space sacred to Angelenos who spend so much time ensconced en route. Bushs photographs allow access into those private moments, defying the fleeting nature of car culture. The viewer holds the privileged role of voyeur, observing and surveilling the oftentimes-unaware subjects.
M+B Gallery, Los Angeles
Q: Your project Vector Portraits leaves me smiling from ear to ear.
What inspired you to create this work?
A: Aside from thinking this was a good way to meet people in Los Angeles while also making driving more interesting, I wanted to look at the changing and elusive space of driving — where we seem to feel invisible not only because we are enclosed but because of the speed we are traveling.
Photography is a good tool for doing this.
Q: The city of Los Angeles is often known as the car capital of the world.
How did you select the subjects and their cars?
A: I was fairly democratic in the making of the photos. I would make a photo if it was possible — if I was driving the same speed as the car next to me. In the editing I would make a selection based on a number of subjective considerations: Is the car interesting? Is the driver interesting? Is the landscape interesting? Also, I would be drawn to older cars because the older car bodies exhibit all sorts of markings — fine details – that come from use and travel that only photography can render.
Q: With your 66 Drives series, it looks as though you are examining a private space – inside of the car – but in a public arena – cruising along highways and streets. It creates an interesting tension. Would you agree, and was it intentional?
A: The boundary between public and private space is the subject of many of my photo projects; photography is an especially good tool for examining this boundary. I was really not so much interested in the car, which is why the entire car is not visible in these photos. The car is not so much a separate thing traveling through the world but the car, driver and landscape are inseparable.
Q: How did you shoot this work from a technical standpoint?
A: A camera was mounted on the passenger side and I would travel the same direction and speed as my subject.
Q: What were some of the reactions you got while driving around making these photos?
A: When people were aware of having been photographed they often expressed some sort of consternation.
Q: Your work features repetition and how that repetition plays out. Do you use repetition in your other projects?
A: It is not so much about repetition as the collection of types — or a typology. A number of my projects in the 1980s and early 90s used serial presentation as a way to explore typologies. Typologies work especially well in showing variations in large amounts of data … and in this case in showing how individual styles have transformed what may seem like limited design choices.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I work on a number of projects simultaneously. Ironically, I am returning to making more of these photos after 20 years but with a slight twist. I am making the photos in Rome, Italy. You might consider each car and driver as a way in which a driver circulates his or her image — just by driving around. After making a print, I mail it to the driver as an invitation for the driver to come to an exhibition of their photo. Again, a lot of my work is concerned with questioning what is public and what is private information.
Andrew Bush is represented by M+B Gallery in Los Angeles and Yossi Milo Gallery in New York. His work is currently on exhibit in Berlin through July 30 at 3Punts Gallery.
Tags: Fine Art