I envisioned concentric circles drawn upon the Los Angeles city map with the La Brea Tar Pits as the center point. (The Tar Pits as a beginning, a center of time and space, a place where the elephants sink and the surface bubbles.) Each point on each circle has its counterpoint that is equidistant to the center, and each time I photographed both sites. Though I could select the original site by choice or seduction, its mate was always dictated by the location of the first.
Each photograph noted on the map has its twin, like sister sites and psychic pairs, they are linked by distance divined by the system, as if waiting for the other all this time.
I selected sites like the Watts Towers and Mann's Theater for their fame and importance. Other sites called to me as they came into my view as if I were traveling by air like a housefly waiting to land. (My daughter and I snuck into a wedding and the couple's video will later reveal my 7-year-old in a neon color jacket darting in and out as the bride begins her walk down the aisle.) The partner site was always the calling of the first.
Inhabitants of Los Angeles typically remain within the confines of their villages, some complete with freeway walls or tall ornate gates protecting their keepsakes. We feel safe among ourselves within these villages and to venture outside their boundaries is to feel singular in a strange land.
Each site had a pronounced aspect that acted as its signature, an obvious spot of composition or content. I attempted to attend to the matched sites, leaving my preconceptions behind; while some clichˇs held fast, others fell to the curb. Indeed, the keen eye sees beauty even in decay, and spiritual decay may sparkle. Well-kept homes, both spacious and modest, appeared in all directions of the circles. I stayed suspicious of my viewpoint understanding the choices of my viewfinder.
I know where beauty is and you can buy it as a necklace in Beverly Hills. I know the beauty of rust against wood against crumbling paint and great artworks have frames around their surface. (People stand, sit, speak, and sleep behind each doorway and urban cave.) Nature can be bought and it's tucked away behind security signs. But Nature also flexes her strength as the lush green grassy knolls undulate in the once concrete front of the gas station on Main and 59th.
The sites at Second and Broadway and its equidistant point in Bel Air were recorded on videotape during a 24-hour period of time. You will see each minute of change, and you are able to pull up specific moments. The notion of surveillance revealed itself more apparently with our ability to rewind and repeat and observe more closely the occasional human interaction on the street. Otherwise, people move past one another quickly.
Equidistant is a piece in progress; thus far, I have traveled to over 120 locations in the Los Angeles region, gathering site and sound. The concept provides a method for viewing the urbanscape disregarding conventional city divisions, ignoring the layout of the streets. Nature offered the balance for my observations, since she consistently insists on pushing wildly through each sidewalk, park and cemetery. In Los Angeles, Nature can be found groomed, polished, and shaped into friendly shrubs.
Executive Producer: Phil van Allen
Producer: Joe Nuccio
Art Director: Molly Bosted
Programmer: Guy Greenbaum
Production Art: Stacey Kam
Videographer: Matt Gainer
Special thanks to Janet Rothman and the Brentwood/Bel-Air Holiday Inn, John Valadez, Zoë Moore, Freddie Salas, and Richard & Lydia Sander for their help with this project.