Ian J. Whitmore: What is public space?

Nowhere #15607, 2010

Nowhere #15607, 2010

Nowhere #3809, 2005

Nowhere #3809, 2005

Nowhere #9104, 2008

Nowhere #9104, 2008

 

Nowhere is an ambiguous yet ubiquitous space. It is woven into our civic and commercial landscape as irresponsible and irrelevant decoration. In these images we see spaces that we move through every day but rarely acknowledge for their functional purpose or aesthetic value. How we engage with these spaces speaks to how we neglectfully pass through our own communities, and more importantly how we interact with one another.

Through these photographs I am exploring the psychology of our urban and suburban landscape by focusing on the ironic and garish nature of what surrounds us. By presenting ignorable spaces as places that have importance and are of interest we are drawn into the banal—as we linger on these images the mirage dissolves unveiling impotence, benign ornamentation and questions about our direction.

Those promising paths that once led us forward, reaching into the horizon, have been cleared away and accessorized as we seek our destination. Following the rhythm of progress our civic body ceaselessly expands and as the horizon has drawn nearer and nearer—collapsing in on us—it becomes clear that we have arrived nowhere in particular.

 

IAN J. WHITMORE is a photographer, art director, web developer living in Portland, OR. He is an Assistant Professor of Art at Portland State University. He is currently working on a book series, Onomasticon: A Vocabulary for Nowhere.

Posted: February 12th, 2014
Categories: General Interest, What is Public Space?
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