Joe Deal – Dialogues with the Past

Below are photographs taken by Joe Deal.

Backyard, Yorba Linda, California,-1984-vintage silver print
Backyard, Yorba Linda, California -1984- Vintage silver print
Duplex Dividing Wall, Anaheim Hills, California,-1984-vintage silver print
Duplex dividing wall, Anaheim Hills California, -1984- Vintage silver print
Indian Bingo, Morango Reservation, California,-1983-Carbon pigment print
Indian bingo, Morango reservation California, -1983- Carbon pigment print
Model Home, Phillips Ranch, California -1984 - vintage silver print
Model home, Phillips Ranch California,-1984- Vintage silver print
Sanitary Landfill, Corona, California,-1984-vintage silver print
Sanitary landfill, Corona California,-1984- Vintage silver print
View, Magic Mountain, Valencia, California,-1977-vintage silver print
View magic mountain, Valencia California,-1977- Vintage silver print

Joe Deal expresses his landscape photographs different from the majestic forests and beautiful sunsets you see in most coffee table photography books.  Deal uses man-made scenery to compose his photos. He captures the patterns in human construction that juxtapose our environment. I like his idea of showing how humans are constantly building and encroaching on the land its self. Deal finds the unintentional compositions man creates, and exposes them, literally.

In Deal’s photograph, Sanitary landfill, Corona California, not only is this a symbol of human destruction on the environment, but also a story. Which exact story we do not know, but we can wonder if the land was cleared of trees, old buildings, or even a hill to create flat usable land.  The subject matter is clear, heavy tracks, soil, compaction. Luckily we have the title of the work to piece some of the subject matter together. A sanitary landfill, showing the symbolism of human power and destruction through manipulating the earths surface for our own progression.

Deal chose to frame a sanitary landfill by cropping out anything that would take our attention away from the tracks.  A vantage point of leading lines that lead our eyes off into the horizon.  A horizon where nothing but more tracks are to be found. This type of framing and vantage point keeps the story intact and on track (pun intended).

The depiction of time in Deal’s landfill scene can be thought of as a middle moment.  Before, there was trash, now there is a layer of soil for trash conversion, far off in the future may be a golf course, or even a park. The sense of time in this photograph allows the viewer to see a past and imagine a future.

Below are photographs I took in response to Joe Deal’s idea of man-made intrusion into the wilderness.  I have taken his idea and flipped the aggressor in my visual response.

Trailer House

Train Car Home

Train Car Home 2


Ivy House

If left unkempt, nature will reclaim its land by force.  The fight for land between humans and nature is a never-ending battle.  These photographs show just that.  I chose to use a tight frame on most of these photographs focusing on the nature that binds to the man-made subject.  Nature includes weather, so not only do I include overgrowth on trailers and houses, but also those which are weather-beaten.

The first distinctive difference between my photos and Deals is the use of color.  I chose to keep these images in color to help natures development stick out.  Green foliage, rust, and the striping of paint all dominate the scene together when shown in color.  In the second photograph, a lower point of view was taken, using a depth of field that would slightly blur out the foreground while still giving you a sense that the train car turned house is drowning in nature.  This train car house is not only drowning in physical growth of the land, but also beaten down by the relentless constant change of weather that Kansas brings.

This comes to the house which has no hope left for reconstruction. The photo was composed in a way to show a stair type style. Giving the relation to the gradual falling of the house it’s self.  Even though wildflowers are zeroing in on this house; weather is the main culprit to its demise.

Sometimes we are accepting to nature and welcome it for its beauty.  In the last photograph, the inhabitants of the building allow Ivy to overgrow and flourish.  The photo had to be a tight frame to cut out the clean housing that surrounded.  This keeps the eyes focused on what is happening to the house.  From an angle, lines of the roof help remove the flat look you would come across in a straight forward view. With an angled view, the overgrowth can be more accepted as a living thing, as it has to maneuver around the edges to maintain its grip and reclaim the world.


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