The Walkstreets of Venice
The Walkstreets of Venice is a collection of photographs made on or near a few narrow streets in Venice, California which are for pedestrians only, with cars relegated to the alleys and surrounding streets. Over the years I have watched the humble bungalows morph into pricey modern and post-modern dwellings. The early Twentieth Century utopian urban planning of the neighborhood nevertheless stubbornly persists. The work is not so much a documentary of the impermanence of this charming neighborhood as it is a visual poem that presented itself, piece by piece out of the dozens of walks I took there. Most of the black and white photographs were made in 2016 and 2017, and the oldest dates back to 2009.
In 2022, five years after exhibiting the black and white work at Beyond Baroque, I returned to visually exploring Nowita Place, Marco Place, Amoroso Place, and Crescent Place: The Walkstreets of Venice. The neighborhood continues to be gentrified at an alarming rate. This time I am working with my digital view camera, in color, stitching three horizontal frames into one. The site has become like a laboratory in which I experiment with a very wide-angle view, yet with the compression and shallow bokeh only a telephoto can provide.
The pictures appear just how I imagined and hoped they would. There is only one thin picture plane rendering sharpness on the edges, with a vanishing point that becomes more and more shallow in depth as it recedes in the distance. This is quite the opposite of the function of the vanishing point in geometric perspective, to draw the eye in and give a sense of depth. Consequently, the eye wanders to the sharp edges of interest and is emblematically dreamy in the center, which helps integrate the architecture and landscaping that is sometimes so starkly different on the left and right. As a series they are a typology, but unlike most typologies they do not function to underline the illusion of objectivity. Rather, a simple system is set in motion from which variety is stimulated, yet not at the expense of exploration.
The message is to just be here now. Yes, there is an unclear future ahead, but stop for a moment, pause and take a breath in the ongoing moment. There is hope, there are future dreams, yet focus is placed on what stands immediately before us. Should we choose reverie instead, that too is available.
Dovetailing the three image-stitch panoramas I pictured the Walkstreet Circles using a nine image-stitch process, with a wide-angle lens. These vernal islands and the concrete roundabouts are each unique byways along the otherwise straight and narrow sidewalk paths.