Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ernie Button

Ernie Button

Work from Back & Forth and Playing in the Shadows of Space.

I have been reading quite a bit about space exploration this week, and it is nice to see some work that is a nice glimpse of the future, as seen from the past. 


On the surface, the thought of photographing coin-operated grocery store rides appears to be fun and superficial. But the coin-operated rides that many of us enjoyed as children are slowly disappearing from the urban landscape. That mechanical horse or the spaceship ride made a trip to the store bearable as a child but now seems hard to find. What rides do remain, most of their physical condition has deteriorated due to neglect while out in the elements. Many more rides are located in areas that are cluttered with vending machines and shopping carts, which seem to deter any desire to be used. Warning labels graffiti the rides becoming a bold visual icon that serves as a reminder of our increasingly litigious nature.

Five years after beginning this project, I returned to a number of the sites of my original photographs. Many of the rides were gone. Some of the actual buildings were gone. A few of the rides had been changed out for new ones, but a ride still remained. As the population and economy of a city grows and changes, so does the urban landscape. The demographics evolve and the family oriented population shifts to a different part of the city or country. Essentially, things change.

Black and White represents the past, whether it was a decade ago or a day ago. Color represents today, maybe even a glimpse into the future. The revisited site was photographed at a different time of day or year or a different position from the original to signify not only the passing of time but also how things are never quite the same. The findings of this project seem to mirror life: sometimes changes are dramatic or barely noticeable, but change happens. Change can be so subtle that if you don't pay attention, you won't know what's different.


Playing in the Shadows of Space

"For much of the 20th century, outer space was where we, as a nation, envisioned ourselves in the future. During the 1950’s, a future in space seemed very plausible, as if tomorrow a person could be battling Martians on their way to work. We saw the start of the space race, the expansion of special effects being used in motion pictures, the recent end to World War II and the subsequent social and economic boom. Our thoughts could not help turning to such an exciting & hopeful place like outer space. Our hopes and dreams, fears and expectations helped to color our vision of the unknown entity of outer space. By the year 2000, it was thought that the standard mode of transportation would be via the family flying machines.
Space invaded our toys as well. The action figures used in this body of work were manufactured and sold during the early 1950s. I chose these figures because through their amazingly detailed poses, they convey to me a sense of hope and humor, remaining fantastic yet reflective of the times both physically and emotionally. No matter how menacing I tried to make the portraits of these figures, they remained non-threatening. While I was not born during the 1950’s, these figures provide a reflective tour through what society’s fantasy was about our future in space. Dynamic, visually interesting landscapes & textures support the belief that these were indeed space men and women from the future. It will be our little secret that it’s now the 21st Century and we are still driving Chevys, Fords and Chryslers."

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