Taking Shape

So a couple of years ago, I spent some time photographing in Indonesia.  I returned from the trip, and completed the project just as I imagined it – A Night at the Bintang Cafe.

bali-java-arnold0251

The final piece was composed in two parts, a small saddle-stitched pamphlet with pictures and text, and then housed in a small wooden box with a number of loose prints.  While I always liked the booklet, I was never satisfied with the combined presentation with the loose prints.

brian-arnold-java042

I tore it all apart, and made a series of collages using the loose prints and pages torn from the booklets, all mounted on larger boards or sheets of paper.  I then reprinted the booklets, and inserted 2-3 loose prints into each of them.  All said and done, a much better manifestation of this work and its ideas, at least in my mind.

Danny&Brian_spring72

So anyway, I am back in Denver.

brian_arnold_eye1

I came to photograph, to take a little project I’ve been keeping on the back burner, and seeing if I can bring it to a full boil.  I call it Born in the New West, a study in pictures and words about my childhood in Denver during the 1970-80’s.

ramada-inn-denver-downtown-map

Reworking these photographs from Indonesia proved important – or at least I think so now – because it’s given me some ideas to shape the work I am doing in Denver.

Danny&Chris,71or72?2

Right now, I am thinking that Born in the New West will take two forms.  First will be a series of booklets or zines, about 10-15 of them in total, each about 20 pages.  These little books will be a mix of my photographs, old family photographs made during my childhood (while Robert Adams was photographing his seminal series of pictures about the new west – The New West, Denver, and What We Bought – an obvious correlation/reference the work I am pursuing), and writings about my life in Denver.

brian_arnold_heart

The second will be a series of narrative collages – like I described above with A Night at the Bintang Cafe – I hope to get some samples of these online soon – using my photographs from these recent trips back home, the family snap shots, and excerpts from my writings.

Photo Express: Tokyo by Keizo Kitajima

Each of the booklets will have different themes, and will be able to exist individually, though in the end will also be one bound volume (like that fabulous Steidl facsimile of Keizo Kitajima’s work Photo Express:  Tokyo).  And I’ve already imagined the first of these books, Prologue, and will feature some photographs made during my last flight to Denver, and some semblance of the following text (still just a draft).

denver entry

So in preparation for my trip back West, I went online – mostly Facebook – looking for people from my best.  I spent a long afternoon scanning in photographs from a trip to the Canyon Lands in Utah from back in the day, and doing so I spent way too much time on Facebook.  I didn’t attempt much contact, but did send some friend requests, looking at old girl friends, and classmates from high school and even back to elementary school.  Most of my requests were ignored, which really might be for the best actually, because the curiosity and inquiry about these people was the real search; somehow it still feels like part of the journey, a way of reconnecting with who and what I am, as well as what this place means as part of my personal history. 

 I perused the Internet like this for about a week, looking for trances of an earlier self.  When I finally flew into Denver, it was a cloudless day on the eastern plains, with a dusting of snow over the landscape, bits of brown visible beneath this layer.  I took some photographs with my phone out the window of the plane.  Somehow, I wanted this act of looking down to replicate my own looking back.  And I was so excited to be back and photograph, to see what pieces I could find.

Danny&Little_John,12-69

The other booklets will each have an unique identity, like chapters of a story.  And as I get this all to take shape in my mind, more and more this feels like a real project.

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