I have been back in San Diego for 3 months now and all this time I've been silent as a cricketless night. Not a lot has happened during this period of time. I have been spending a lot of time in my North Park darkroom working on printing the images collected over the summer and planning the next Photo Palace journey. I have also been working a fair bit on repairs to those systems aboard The Bus that have failed during the initial journey due to the builders' lack of construction experience and practical knowledge. I am happy to report that all systems are back in operation and Gilli is road-ready once again.
Now that a good chunk of time is separating me from the whirl-wind experience of this summer I feel that I can be more objective in summarizing it in a post and here it goes.
Few words can describe the excitement felt by me during the construction of The Photo Palace Bus in the spring. Working for 14-hours per day and with help from Ryan and his father I was able to complete the first stage of remodeling of an ordinary school bus into a mobile darkroom in a record time of 3.5 months. I must note here that because of the unique nature of this venture I don't have any other previous projects to compare this timeline to, so I say 'record' based on the bewilderment of those who have seen Gilli and asked how long did it take to get her all built up and on the fact that that time was much shorter than I have anticipated.
In retrospect the amount of naivete that was present at the point of departure in June of this year was simply tremendous. Not making a solid plan of action seemed like a gran poetic notion befitting of the general feeling that art is best made in empirical manner.
After Ryan and I decided to go our separate ways I was left on my own in Tennessee with less than half the budget necessary to complete the round-trip adventure I found myself in a state of relative despair, which is quite possibly self-evident upon reading the posts on this blog made in early and mid July. The decision to press on toward Maine was a tough one, but I am very glad it was made nonetheless.
Progressing farther eastward I reached the capital of US. I am very grateful for the kindness exhibited by my Rainbow friend Alan Berger in hosting me at his Washington D.C. residence for the much needed period of clarification of thoughts. It was a pleasant stay and allowed me to make some connections relating to further travels. From there on my spirits were once again on an elevated level and I found myself finding good contacts along the way. I made my way around the country making decent guerrilla-style art sales and exposing the intrigued public about the importance of and value behind hand-made photographic prints and the historic path of traditional photography at every stop along the way.
Looking back on the reactions I got in various parts of the country that I visited I can honestly say that New England area was by far the most receptive. People there seemed most engaged and intelligent and were most impressed with the magnitude of the project. I look forward to visiting that part of the country as soon as the weather and funding permit.
I'm glad I had time to visit some of my dear friends in NY and MN - next journey, planning for which is currently on the way, will surely include a lot more stop-overs like that. I am also happy to have had the opportunity to continue my research into the collection of magic lantern slides by Rev. John Rahill purchased by me in 2011. I visited YMCA archives in Minneapolis MN and dug about in the records of Topeka KS where Mr. Rahill was active shortly after returning from Russia in 1918. Though records from that era are spotty and hard to come by I was rewarded with some intriguing findings, but I believe there is more to find out on that topic so I plan to visit the Minneapolis archives again.
It was a tough decision not to go on westward after Minnesota, but I believe it was the most sensible one. The mountain passes of Montana and those that would have awaited me on the path from Washington state down to California could have brought all sorts of unexpected turns of events and with no crew and near-zero budget I played it safe. After all - I did reach Maine thereby completing the initial agenda of crossing this vast country diagonally on the very first Photo Palace adventure.
Admittedly nothing can compare with the feeling of the open road and all the potential it holds, so upon my return to California I felt drained and lacking inspiration. It took a while to get into the swing of things here, but now I am determined to continue traveling and have came up with a project that I think is worthy of a cause and may interest of the greater film-shooting community. You, my dear reader, will not have to wait much longer for the next update revealing that project.
For now - here are some of my favorite images that were made during the summer. I must point out that the amount of shooting time was limited by the fact that I had to do everything from raising funds to driving and planning by myself, so unfortunately I returned home with only slightly over 60 rolls of film to work from. That is a relatively low number for me - I have been known to shoot that many rolls in less than half of the time I spent on the road, but then again I didn't have a large school bus to take care of...
Note - I spent two days writing wonderful descriptions to all these messages and arranging them in chronological order. I swear I was hitting the 'save' button religiously every 30 minutes. When I went to publish this post ALL the information below this lone was GONE and none of the images were even in the cache. I reserve the right to come back and add descriptions later, but right now I'm so mad that I will simply put them up with no information and see how I feel a few days from now and if I feel like adding descriptions. Sorry folks - that's 'the brave new world of digital.
Stick with analog my friends!
I decided to come back and add a little edit to these images as they did feel a little bare with no captions... I will the comments to a minimum though and let them speak.
Hug, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Kid Village Fire, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Meadow Moment, Rolleiwide
Rain Dance, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Joe and Security, Minox IIIa (do not try to do stand development with Minox or you will get that fall-off that you see at te bottom of the frames)
Dancer III II I, Polaroid 690 with expired Polaroid 600 film
Drummer, Stereo Realist (stereoscopic card)
4th of July Prayer, Rolleiflex Tele
It's Just a Plant, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
DC Bodega, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar (this is the only negative scan seen here, I'll do my best to print it and replace the image)
Mary on the Wall, Rolleiflex Tele
ME Rainbow Singers, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Moon Tracker, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Waving Flag, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Freeway and Gilli, Minox IIIa (Lith print)
Heads, Minox IIIa
Chimney in NY, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Bus Ruins, Tachihara 4x5 with Polaroid 55PN
Kodak Wall, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
Kodak Wall, Polaroid 680 with expired 600 film
Portland Couple, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar, print toned in Polytoner
Propped Wall, Leica M3
Square Scene, Leica M3
Rhode Island Stretch, Leica M3
Gilli and Train, Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar
AZ Hotel, Robot II
Man on Bench, Robot II