“Transcendent documents” is how Walker Evans explains the way a photograph can simultaneously describe the place (what we see) and the nature of the people that live in it (who we are)
Color Photography was mainly used in fashion or advertising, and, for the burgeoning group of scholars and aficionados of photography as fine art, the use of color was akin to sacrilege. How garish and “untruthful”, emotion could only be achieved with black and white.
In reference to the transient aspect of his encounters, the project was named”American Surfaces”. Keep in mind that a photograph had to have a meaning, a purpose, a story to illustrate. Photographing the daily banalities surrounding one’s seemly aimless voyage was quite new. Still, with the brilliant work of Stephen’s contemporaries, William Eggleston, William Christenberry, or Joel Meyerowitz, vernacular color photography was taking ground.
Saddled with Watergate and the never ending Vietnam war, conveying a sense of identity was not expected of an artist, nonetheless these pioneers of color were expressing, in their own quiet way, their love for the simple and perfectible things that constitute America.
“To see something spectacular and recognise it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap,” Stephen Shore once said. “But to see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognise it as a photographic possibility – that’s what I’m interested in.”
And with that in mind, we have Stephen to thank for our own, everyday, teetering attempts on Instagram : )
A Stephen Shore retrospective is currently exhibited @ C/O Berlin