“One week until L’s birthday.
Note to self: Order cheetah. (on highly detailed ornamental pillow) …
But problem remains: Visa full. Also AmEx full and Discover nearly full. Called Discover: $200 avail. If we transfer $200 from checking (once paycheck comes in), would then have $400 avail. on Discover, could get cheetah. Although timing problematic. Currently, checking at zero. Paycheck must come, must put paycheck in checking pronto, hope paycheck clears quickly. And then, when doing bills, pick bills totaling $200 to not pay. To defer paying. Stretched a bit thin these days.”
The Semplica Girl Diaries, George Sanders
One 21st century suburban town looks much like the next with the familiar matrix of shopping centers, malls, gas stations, fast food restaurants, and big box stores filling in around the remains of old town Main Streets. Eye-catching facades together with some obligatory landscaping combine for the purpose of acquiring goods and services with the swipe of a credit card.
SWIPE is about the back ways and side streets of everyday suburbia that are made nearly invisible by the eye-numbing ordinariness. The malls and shopping centers are there in the distance, but this project is looking at the underbelly where people are often stretched thin between their wants and desires and hard realities. The people in these images are seen on the go or otherwise recognized by their left-behind artifacts. The landscapes are cluttered with the remains of human imagination and fallibility but also reveal those unexpected moments of grace and beauty. The stories are often found in the details, and it is here that we have a voyeuristic glimpse of this nearly invisible 21st century drama of expectations, struggles, and settled-for outcomes.
All of this human activity is etched into the landscape leaving behind a kind of autobiography for future generations to try to understand. I can be critical of what I see, particularly the cheap and ugly, but like it or not what we have here is a culture that binds us together and at the very least provides context for an explicitly American lifestyle that for the moment is lived like no other.
SWIPE was self-published as a collection of photographs in 2015, accepted to PHOTOBOOK 2015, and exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography.
Bill Gore, 2015