Returning home wasn’t easy. For me it’s one of those love-hate relationships I’m obligated and simultaneously willing to maintain. My real home, the memory of my youth, is gone. The house I grew up in in Norwalk is gone, and my family, portions of it anyway, have relocated out into the Mojave desert on its southwestern edge.
We headed out to the desert in a rental this summer to visit. The oldies radio station that played my mother’s favorite hits was now playing my own. As we headed over the mountains north of Los Angeles, the heat and the expanse of orange, yellow, and brown intensified. My four day’s stay with my mother was a rewarding one. Aside from spending time with family, I dug through old boxes of memorabilia, of things I had packed away in the eventuality that I wouldn’t come back as a resident. In one of those boxes, I found an essay I wrote just out of high school about tidal pools on the California coast. I described the competition for living space, uncited and unsourced, with a comment from my college instructor saying “horrible writing – you really need to work on your writing skills…”
This series is then a story of tidal pools and of living space. It is the lebensraum of California, pushing aside (at any cost) life in a place that is seemingly empty. Here in the desert I found the overflow pressure valve, the housing bubble of a burdened and overpopulated sprawl that is Los Angeles. Empty homes scattered every other street, and unfinished homes at the end of the housing blocks. Whole streets of green grass, watered perfusely with the Colorado and northern California rivers. People lug all their stuff to these new homes, and when these spaces for living get too full (even though they are huge) the people, some of them anyway, throw it all away in the middle of nowhere. And then these piles of stuff compete with the life and the living space of the creatures that dwell in the Mojave. It is assumed that the desert is empty. Yet it is the gorgeous living space of vast numbers of resilient and strange creatures. While exploring this desert space, I came across furniture and the abandoned comforts of home. A speaker rested on the back of a sofa which I then dragged around to the front to create this symbolic living space.
I’ll leave the rest of the story to the imagery. The series tells it better. Every image was processed using VSCOcam’s Hyperbeast 01 preset to varying degrees to bleach the sky and give that stark contrast of white heat that the desert implies. You can see a selection of these images on my VSCOcam grid in monochrome, using the x6 preset.