There is a quality in the most basic surroundings that is worth registering, despite or precisely because of how mundane it may be. Whether an array of lampposts, the surfaces we walk and work on, the facades of neighborhood, school, or commercial buildings, the ordinary possesses the capacity to transcend itself.
I want to see, and others to know, that the setting we all share is more than it seems, especially in those places and times when it appears to be much less than what it should.
It is common for attention to become inordinately channeled by tasks and goals aiming one toward future points in time. The passage of a day, then, may take one by compelling surroundings which go unacknowledged: their presence is too fleeting or they are so familiar they become invisible. Encouraged by the possibility that the present may, in fact, hold a richness comparable to anticipated realities, I have observed aspects of my own home and the surroundings of my commute to school
The suburbs are dull and they are where I grew up. I remember, in youth, feeling numbed by channels of housing developments, masses of stores, and encroached-upon natural areas. Back then I would have liked to be somewhere else - somewhere more exciting, more genuine, more fulfilling. Eventually, I did just this - I traveled and got to know a bit of elsewhere. After returning to my suburban home, however, I didn’t see quite the same place. There is discernible, now, a special quality to these anonymous buildings and mall strips, a formal intrigue and essential curiosity.
Starkly perceived, this odd settlement -suburbia- built on top of and amidst nature, constructed in a sporadic, piecemeal fashion, is simplified into building blocks and inadvertent patterns. From nearly nothing there can emerge a particular something: a banal spectacle, a transcendence of the mundane.
Derived from the physical sites themselves and their simple coexistence together is a degree of familiar peculiarity, the development of which is revelatory: this place, suburbia, in its plainness, boringness, incidental makeup, and artless management, is a singular locale and a locus of subtle fascination.
It’s hard to say if in my youth I would have had the patience to put my home under the lens and revel in the instances of found, contextual interest at hand, but the opportunity alone would have been welcomed. It is no predicament isolated to a single person or location or time in life, this state of finding your place of living unengaging or undernourishing. We could all, I imagine, use some reassurance that our home is intrinsically more than it seems. Maybe you’ll have to take a long, hard look but within the walls of the typical, unassuming dwelling there is a new place residing amidst the old.
A documentation of the pattern and structure found on the surface of everyday objects, whether natural or man-made. There is here a layer of complexity that might regularly go ignored or discarded -not unlike the crust of bread for some particular sandwich-eaters- but is essentially compelling - comparable to the vast majority of nature, including humans and human society, that exists upon the crust of the Earth.
A lamppost is a simple thing: a bright light raised alongside sidewalks and roadways, illuminating the paths we take in our travels to and from home. Simultaneously, these objects are like silent guardians, protecting communities from the hazards of dimmed passages and waylaid orientation. They are sentinels, steadfastly lighting our possible routes. Because of their presence we may explore the shadows, safe in the knowledge that such territory has finite borders. If ever times become more grave and the night especially long they keep us vigilant of our familiar surroundings, offering a beacon forward.