Touching Ground

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This week artist Jennifer Trausch unveils a captivating series of photographs she shot in the rural South.  Her camera of choice?  The 20 X 24 Polaroid camera that weighs 239-pounds.  Despite its use of instant film, the camera is no mere “point and shoot,” and is rarely used outside of a controlled studio environment.  The logistical complexities of using the camera make Trausch’s own personal odyssey with it through out the southeastern United States a remarkable endeavor.  I interviewed Jennifer about the project for Turnsyle Magazine last year but wanted to re-blog an excerpt of the interview in honor of Touching Ground: Finding The American South which officially opens February 10 at Notre Dame’s Snite Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

Jeremy: What inspired you to take the camera out of the studio?

Jennifer: Over the years I watched how this static camera was always used in similar ways in the studio, mainly how people brought their ideas & objects to it to be photographed.  Some of my impulse to take it outside was a reaction to this.  Some was the natural reaction of a documentary photographer stuck inside dark photography studios, when she really wanted to be out in the bright world shooting!  I was also curious what this awkward, albeit fascinating tool could bring to my documentary sensibility; i.e. could this camera be used freely and loosely, to see a familiar world in a new way.

Jeremy: Where did you take the camera?

Jennifer: The project started when there was a cancellation in the 20×24 Studio’s schedule that left the camera suddenly available for one straight week, which was rare.  My assistant and I rented a truck and just hit the road, ready to shoot anything.  We needed to choose which way we were going to drive out of New York city, and we chose south, partly because we needed warmer temperatures for the film to work outside, and partly because it was a part of the US that I knew almost nothing about, and what little I knew wasn’t from direct experience.

Jeremy: Why did you take it to that region of the country and to those specific locations?

Jennifer: The locations themselves were often happenstance. For example, sometimes we went to a town just because we thought it was a place whose name might answer some of our questions about the South: Lost City, New Roads, Southland, or we went because liked the name Hot Coffee or Two Egg.   More often than not, if someone suggested a place, an event, or someone we had to meet, we would go.

To learn more about Jennifer Trausch’s work go to http://www.jennifertrausch.com/ and to read the full interview with Jennifer go to http://turnstylenews.com/2011/10/21/the-big-picture-jennifer-trausch-photographs-the-deep-south/.

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