As an optional project prior to beginning the Surfaces and Strategies module we were invited to examine the works of Ed Ruscha and create a project inspired by his body of work. I chose Ruscha’s 26 Gas Stations as my inspiration and while Ruscha stated neither his photography or his subject matter were very interesting, this work, considered the first artist’s book (Drucker, 2004), had a profound influence on the future of photographic presentation. So while I maintained Ruscha’s minimalist approach to my book, I wanted my photographs and subject matter to be interesting. Whether I have succeeded or not is a matter for the reader to decide.
There are other comparisons that can be made between 26 Gas Stations and 19 Sutherland Bridges. In Ruscha’s case the photographs would have been familiar to anyone who traveled Route 66 in the late 1950s and early 1960s and might have inspired a sense of nostalgia or even a bit of “hey, I have been there” sort of pride at seeing familiar places in a book. For residents and some visitors to the Highlands of Scotland many of the bridges I have chosen are iconic in their own way and are thoroughfares on which many have passed in their day to day or holiday travels. At the same time they are photographed from a viewpoint that may not be familiar to those only travelling over the bridges and so may reveal something new to a location that is otherwise so familiar. Like Ruscha, there is a single photograph that spans two pages; his the Union gas station in Needles, California and mine the Dornoch Firth Bridge, the longest in Sutherland. Like Ruscha, my work is absent people in the photographs and contains only names and locations in the captions.
I have sent the book off to be printed and it has yet to arrive. Below is the link to the PDF version of the book. It is best viewed in the 2 page view in Adobe Acrobat or Reader so when viewing it on the web page, realize the photos are meant to be on the left hand page and the captions on the right after the first photo inside which spans 2 pages as it will display as individual pages after the front and rear cover. It takes a wee while to load so please be patient.
19 Sutherland Bridges
The Century of Artist’s Books, Drucker, Granary, 2004 p11