In Week13 of the Informing Contexts module we were introduced to the work of Ed Ruscha who has created a number of bodies of work on a number of different subjects that most of us would consider as part of the everyday fabric of life a number of which are associated with motor vehicles:
- Ed Ruscha 26 Gasoline Stations https://goo.gl/8u2PH4
- Ed Ruscha – 34 Parking Lots (1967) https://goo.gl/dPjjrM
The material included in the week13 activities included work that other photographers had created in response to Ed Ruscha’s work and a few examples are listed below:
- Jeff Brouws, 26 Abandoned Gasoline Stations https://goo.gl/6WsrXV
- 26 Gasoline Stations Flip Book Jonathan Lewis https://goo.gl/v9LNwi
- Derek Stroup, Every Instance Removed https://goo.gl/C7C7oo
- Eric Tabuchi, Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations https://goo.gl/xdjbPD
When embarking upon my own project in response to Ruscha’s work I consider these items alongside Ruscha’s work as I wanted to create something that moved the subject forward without be a copy of others work. I decided to do a project on Electric Charging Stations within a 20 mile radius of my home. More detail on the thought process behind the final decision are covered in the post Week 13 – Electric Vehicles Only Zine.
I have never created a zine and given the nature of the work created by Ruscha I felt a zine would be the prefect vehicle for the project. I decided to have the zine ready for the field trip to Krakow so that MA students and tutors attending could see the physical artefact. To allow those that were unable to attend I created a short video of the zine.
I got the following feedback from members of the module:
- Josie Purcell 27 May 2017: Fab – love the concept of electric charging station – definitely bringing it more up-to-date but leaning to the Ruscha aesthetic
- Philip Singleton 28 May 2017: Hi Simon, Having had the privilege of picking up, feeling and turning the pages as well as dwelling on some of the images (like the spiky plant that appears to ‘explode’ behind one of the charging points is striking) it is a really nice product. I am working on an air quality project and thus am a fan of electric cars. Maybe within a year you could add an appendix and reach the special number, 26.
- Chris Northey 30 May 2017: I like the use of the bland B&W aesthetic and the use of the distance (miles) in the titles. Interesting to use miles as they are an indicator of an older generation when we are slowly turning to kilometres as they use on the continent. A mix of traditional measurement and aesthetic combined with a very forward thinking subject matter. I found it rather ironic that Ruscha took his gasoline stations when travelling a route he used often yet you had to go hunting for your versions; makes you wonder about the carbon footprint of the intent when placed against the green charging stations. The images themselves dominate the frame with a similar scale so there is no mistake what the subject is about although for some reason I am reminded of solitary petrol pumps in remote villages that you occasionally come across so when combined with the B&W it does make you consider how long these modern sites will remain modern. I wondered about your choice in the sequencing of the shots – are they random? By distance? By manufacturer or by shape? And I love the back cover too.
- Ashley Truckey 2 Jun 2017: Wow, that is ironic and telling!
- Katie Watson 30 May 2017 30: I agree this was a great ‘update’ of Rusha’s theme – I love the zine presentation and seeing them all as a set is somehow really satisfying! The straightforward compositions work really well too.
- Christopher Chucas 31 May 2017: I really like the sound of the project and think the zine has been a great idea. I have been looking at making a zine for my own project but struggle with figuring out the right paper and way to produce them etc. It almost has a a kind of government panflet vibe to it, I keep thinking of the 1950’s – 60’s public service announcements. It’s like a throw back to that but with a super modern topic. The use of Black and White also adds to a kind of historic or nostalgic theme. Are the images shot in colour primarily?
- Jo Sutherst 31 May 2017: Love this book – was great to see the original in Krakow. A great job!
- Rita Rodner 1 Jun 2017: Edition of 20 zine publications recording the 20 electric charging stations within 20 miles of Chelmsford – intriguing… Are the other copies for sale and if so, how much do they cost?:)
- Mandisa Baptiste Mauring 1 Jun 2017: I was very fortunate to view this book, Simon, you continue to bring passion, thoughtfulness and creativity to your work, the book is remarkable – a true tribute to Ruscha’s work. Very well done! Congratulations.
- Don Hodgson 1 Jun 2017: I also saw the book in reality in Krakow. It is well done and is Ruscha-ish. I olnder why you decided to do it in B&W. As always a thoughtful and interesting attempt.
In reading the comments for different people I am pleased to see that they recognise the clear link in terms of topic and aesthetic to the earlier work of Ruscha and the fact that the topic is of its time. The distance the furthest charing station is significant in that it is twice the average daily commute of drivers in the UK yet motorists still reference Range Anxiety as a reason for not moving to an electric car.
Overall it was a great learning experience and has got me excited about creating zines for other bodies of work.