Jason Tannen
Office: 530-898-5864


Public Culture/Personal Space

Two projects, CA 99 and Urbanville, have emerged for me over the past several years. The former focuses on the commercial districts of small California cities while the latter explores a larger urban landscape. In both projects I am drawn to the small oddity in an ordinary landscape, an unexpected visual drama or evidence of human idiosyncrasy.

In both series, the photographs reveal an unintended theatricality. Overlapping, direct and reflected sources of light, with objects emerging from shadows combine to evoke a sense of drama. Cars, storefronts and pictorial representations serve as extensions of and stand-ins for people, who are absent from the scene. Both series explore commercialism and the object as fetish, while giving insight into the two contrasting modes of living.

CA 99 explores the business areas of small California cities located along old US Route 99. I am drawn to this setting, where the business district is often concentrated along one street and commercial display is often juxtaposed with signs and icons that can be both archetypal and eccentric.

Urbanville continues my fascination with the landscape of urban modernity and the photographer as tourist. However, unlike the typical tourist who looks for the noteworthy, I seek out the everyday - made remarkable by a particular combination of structure, content and reflection in a compact and dense street scene. These photographs focus on storefront facades and window displays or isolate often-crowded public monuments, separating them from public interaction.

By photographing early in the morning, selecting a vantage point that suggests detachment, or framing in close-up I seek to isolate scenes of public culture, establishing a private space between image and viewer. Technically, I photograph with a 35mm rangefinder camera, digitally scan the film negatives and produce archival inkjet prints. While the prints may be manipulated in tone and contrast, they are presented full frame, without alteration to the physical setting.


The Territory of Memory