Back in the 1990s I studied Historic Preservation Planning. There I studied Architectural History and City Planning, and techniques for saving / preserving the un/built environment from urban renewal. I worked to help put things on the National Register of Historic Places and was involved in a variety of projects from the revitalization of the Rosebud Diner in Somerville and putting the Shell Sign found on the shoreline of the Charles River on the National Register, to what is now known as the Silver Line ( MBTA ). I have always had an interest in architecture and the things around us in plain sight that we might not really know about. One of the reasons I started making photographs wasn’t to make abstractions but to photograph the world that might be vanishing, around us, and to make portraits of people to learn about them, who they are, what they do &c. I read Studs Terkel “working” when I was a kid and it made an impression on me.
Anyways … when I was studying about neon, cold cathode and early fluorescent lighting systems, and post modern I read a book called “Learning from Las Vegas” which seemed like a guide book of roadside architecture, neon and the wave of architecture built after the 1960s. and modern life … everyone trying to get their 15 seconds of fame Mr Warhol promised us. Animated neon signs pointing to every poster on the internet each brighter and more glow in the dark than the last one to get one more look. Maybe people will stop and notice, maybe they will keep driving to go to the next stop.
I was recently photographing roadside things — bright glowing neon, and could’t help but think of the landmark book Learning From Las Vegas.