Responding to Ruscha

Figure 1: Phil Hill (May, 2020) Response to Ed Ruscha task

I decided to take Ed Rucha’s ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ (1963) as inspiration. It has always been a book that I have enjoyed, having discovered it very early on studying photography.

The images were selected from a number of 35mm film shoots that I have been doing between the modules, which are a departure from what I have been completing for my work in progress (Fig: 1). This was as I am researching to consider the way documentary photography is perceived and see if it could play a role in developing my approach.

Figure 2: Phil Hill (May, 2020) Spread from ‘Blossom in the Time of Corona’

I wanted to create a series that first might be perceived in an arbitrary and mundane way through aesthetically pleasing images of trees in blossom (Fig: 2), which then plays on that sense of collected awareness drawn from the context of this happening during the peak of the lock down. Beautiful yet surreal when considering the time in which the images were taken. I have also added a series of double exposures to juxtapose these feelings, which I aimed to show the chaos of the situation without photographing indexical gloves and masks that have appeared en masse (Fig: 3).

Figure 3: Phil Hill (May, 2020) Double Exposure from ‘Blossom in the Time of Corona’

I aimed to use Rucha’s book as a framework to present my own work and to form the basis for the narrative within the images and followed this with the blossom images, which also utilises ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ in the format of the text as a way to provide additional context in the way that the images can be read. The title is also a reference to Ruscha’s book in the graphic style of the typeface and a subtle gradient on the cover to create a sense of the aging and yellowing of the pages that Rucha’s book has been subjected to over the years since its printing (Fig: 4), which is evident in the walk through video of the book (Fig: 5).

Figure 4: Phil Hill (May, 2020) Cover from ‘Blossom in the Time of Corona’
Figure 5: Ed Ruscha (1963) Twentysix Gasoline Stations walk through video

Ruscha, E., 1963. Twentysix Gasoline Stations. 1 ed. Los Angeles: National Excelsior Press.