25 August 2010

On Main Street

I've often seen this and been arrested by something about it — something I can't quite put my finger on; some particular, ineffable quality. This, it seems to me, is one of those scenes that hints at far more than the simple facts of its existence; something for which mere "truth" and explanation are beside the point. I suppose this sounds terribly post-modern (whatever that is), but let me put it another way: eventually, someone will decide to "tidy it up" and the erasure beneath a coat of gleaming new paint will seem, to me, like vandalism.

[21 August 2010; Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 24 mm, ISO 200, 1/400 at f8]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor


Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Love it the way you spot the local details.

Paul said...

“eventually, someone will decide to "tidy it up" and the erasure beneath a coat of gleaming new paint will seem, to me, like vandalism”

Interesting thought. It’s as if this number isn’t really a ‘number’ but rather a testament of an identity, or the name of something totally unique, and even greater, or more, or other than what this number-name was even intended for, being akin to: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.“

Paul Valery stated: "To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees." But in this case ‘to see a number is to remember the name what what one doesn’t see.’ I’m thinking of the number on a fallen soldier’s dog tags; the number tattooed onto a WW II Holocaust victim; all of which aren’t really numbers (“You’re just a number here.”), but real people with real feelings. Perhaps even an address number on a house isn’t just a number, but rather the name for all of the memories that the inhabitants within the walls of that particular house experienced, and consequently either cherish or despise them, or a little of both.

leonie wise said...

I am certain that the stories we attach to things are often more interesting than the truth ever could be (which I guess is where the saying "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" comes from)!

Interesting choice of words: vandalism. I would wholeheartedly agree though that something undefinable would be lost should this be painted over.

Zhoen said...

Living archeology.

pohanginapete said...

Kiwi Nomad, thank you. It's not that I consciously look for details (well, most of the time), it's more that sometimes they just insist on being noticed.

Paul, I think you've hit on something important there. Perhaps a number can be not a replacement, but a key, something that gives access to so much more. Thanks for the thought.

Leonie, I think "truth" can sometimes be highly misleading because it focuses attention on what's not important.

Zhoen, I suppose that's why painting over this would be preferable to bulldozing the whole lot down. At least someone might, some time in the future, notice something under the by-then-peeling paint and, carefully peeling it back, reveal this (or at least enough to suggest it). I suppose the act of photographing this becomes part of its history, its archaeology, too.