Since 2007, I have undertaken a massive project: photographing all of the remaining iconic sites & structures of world's fairs.
I have completed work at 20 sites in North America and Europe (in Paris, Brussels, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Montreal, Spokane, Knoxville, Buffalo, Seville, Barcelona) and plan to photograph the remaining historically significant sites in dedicated phases: North America, Europe, and finally, Japan and China, finishing the project with the incredible 2010 site in Shanghai.
With the funds from this Kickstarter campaign and a portion of donations that I will be matching, the next group of sites that I will photograph are: Vancouver (1986), New Orleans (1984), San Antonio (1968), Seattle (1962 and 1909), Chicago (1933), and San Francisco and San Diego (1915). Notable architecture from these sites include Canada Place in Vancouver, the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, the Space Needle in Seattle, Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the entire site of Balboa Park in San Diego. I am excited and inspired to make new photographs for the project at these dynamic sites in the U.S. and Canada.
World's fairs were (and are) short-lived and spectacular events, temporarily transforming a bit of land on the outskirts of a city into a magical mini-world, complete with fantastical landscaping, public sculpture, and elaborate international pavilion buildings, representative of architectural daring and ingenuity. The sites are super-structures unto themselves, with committees and organizations overseeing the development of every square inch of ground. However, after the fairs close, there is often a lack of commitment and funding to maintain the fair sites and structures, often unusual, unwieldy buildings that are costly and difficult to maintain.
In my pictures of these sites as they have organically developed, a different and haunting story gets told about what inevitably has been preserved, repurposed, or simply left to age.The photographs of these sites reflect the very history of humanity, illustrating through the remaining fair architecture what our ideals have been and are, whether those ideals involve space travel, responsible urban living, or simply the beauty and grace of neoclassical structure. These sites also tell a story about the ongoing challenges of urban preservation and redevelopment. And lastly, we are provided with a map of how great icons are created, by whom, and why.
I have had meetings over the last year with esteemed curators, gallerists, and editors, and the consistent consensus was that this is an important body of work with a big future, culminating in a book and exhibitions internationally. Some of the photographs have been exhibited and recently featured in Wired, National Public Radio Picture Show, and ArchitectureDaily.
I research each site well beforehand and secure necessary permissions if it is a private property. Usually the locations and PR directors are happy to be part of this project; I have never been turned down from a location. (The biggest complication so far was in Montreal where Nascar had rented an entire island that was part of the Exposition site!)
I print or locate multiple original fair maps and map out where the most iconic structures still stand. I usually spend at least half a day when I first arrive scouting the location to study how the light falls, from what direction, and how the best photographs might be made.
I photograph with a 4"x5" Arca-Swiss technical view camera. All of the my photographs are made slowly and deliberately, with great care into the feeling and composition of the photograph.
The negatives are then processed, scanned on an Imacon scanner, and perfected in Photoshop, where I spend anywhere from 2-10 hours retouching and finessing the color.
Finally, test prints are made. I prefer Digital C-Prints on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
As I have been working on this project since 2007, I take great care in fully researching the sites before I visit them, procuring necessary permits and permission for access. The main setback is the weather! If I get to a site and it is inclimate the entire time, I would make the necessary requirements to extend the stay and self-fund this change.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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