What's OUR book about?
It's a collection of photographic and written portraits set in or in-between 24-hour establishments around the United States.
Why 24-hour establishments?
The project was conceived as a collection of portraiture, and for months we debated what common theme we would use to unite our work. We happened upon the idea of diners as a unifying theme—they were initially intriguing to us because of their position as a cultural symbol, but we quickly became wary of how easy it would be for our project to devolve into a nostalgic portrait of some bygone America. We began to discuss what makes diners interesting, beyond their symbolic position, and arrived and two conclusions: first, and most obviously, they are a site where people come together to talk and eat, and second, they (at least traditionally) are open 24 hours.
We’re both interested in dialogue—there is often no better way to reveal people than what they say, and the manner in which they say it. Diners are a convenient place in which to observe and take part in a series of conversations or simple interactions that will inspire our portraits. Midge (often inconveniently) has a knack for getting stuck in conversations with strangers.
Learning to create characters is the most difficult part of writing, for Eliza, because it is always so hard to get out of one’s own head and into someone else’s. This project is about trying to talk to (but more importantly, listen to) as many people as possible, with the hope that their stories can inspire our own. In her portraiture, Midge is constantly aware that she is not only capturing a subject, but rather is constructing a visual dialogue between herself and another.
But as we said, we were concerned about the potential kitsch of a project modeled around diners, so we turned to the other unique thing about them: the fact that they are open 24 hours. The image of a diner late at night becomes a symbol of loneliness or isolation. (Think Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.) We ourselves are just recovering from four years of collegiate all-nighters, and have often wondered what other people are doing up in the middle of the night. We decided to broaden the scope of our project to 24-hour establishments more generally. Who are these people who are getting a burger, doing laundry, or working out at a gym at 4 in the morning--or doing these same activities at 2 pm, for that matter? How do people relate to different hours of the day, and how can one space be versatile enough to encompass all of these human feelings and needs? How do we understand time through place? All of our portraits, in both photography and writing, will be set against a backdrop of these questions.
Why photography and writing?
We are each constantly plagued with neurosis about the insufficiency of our respective mediums in capturing and communicating our subject matters. We’re going to bring together photography and writing to explore how and if these mediums can work together to make a new (to us, at least) manner of representation.
We will compile our efforts into a book, where the two mediums will work with, and maybe against, one another. We want to make a book--something that is real and tangible, that people can hold in their hands and flip through and smell.
We’ve known each other for eight years, and have always supported (i.e. critiqued, insulted, proofread) each other’s creative endeavors. NOW we are finally making something that is wholeheartedly a collaboration. We've just graduated from college, and want to do the project in this moment, before we forget all of the true yet idealistic things we think right now about the world.
Wait, so where are we going to do all of this?
To complete the project, we're going to take a road trip around the United States, in search of unusual 24-hour establishments, as well as other local oddities. We're going to stay with friends and family along the way, and our final book will also include portraits and stories about these hugely generous people who host or help us during our trip.
Where is your money going?
We are very thankful that we have already received an Eddings Opportunity Grant from the English Department at Reed College to go towards this project. The grant money will cover our basic living expenses and some travel expenses, but we have come to Kickstarter to ask for help with the many production costs for the book. Here’s what we need funding for:
- Film: Midge exclusively works with film, and will be using both medium format and large format cameras during the trip. As you may have heard, film is very expensive these days.
- Gasoline: We live in a really big country.
- Post-production book-making costs:
Printing costs for the book and prints
- Shipping (for the book and other rewards along the way)
- Any other expenses needed to finish the project
Okay, we think that’s it. Remember that if our project does not reach its goal, it doesn’t receive ANY funding.
Please spread the word to your family and friends! We can't wait to share our project with all of you.
A hopeful and gracious thank you for your support,
Midge & Eliza
For more information about our project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z88U915uq8
some examples of Midge's work:
- (27 days)