Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Obvious & Ordinary : America 2006

Figuring out who the two photographers are in the new book Obvious and Ordinary: America 2006 is not hard to do. Both of these artists have such distinct style that if one has trouble figuring their identities then one has apparently been sleeping a lot lately. What is more interesting is trying to figure who is who among the two. I figure that MP is Obvious and JG is Ordinary.

The book has no text with the exception of the title, requisite Printed in China credit, and small notices informing us that there are 750 copies for America and 750 copies for Europe. In regard to China, I should mention that they did a fine job and the design looks suspiciously in character with the extraordinary aesthetics of Ordinary.

The back story that I have been told is that it is a road trip made by O & O to go visit WE in Memphis. What we get as a result, are photographs from two soloists singing from different song sheets that somehow form a coherent duet. The reason that it works is that it is all sung in perfect pitch for a piece called America 2006.

They are apparently on the same trip, but only on rare occasion do the two seem to be in the same car. In a couple of instances they perform an impromptu form of photographic dueling banjoes when they aim their cameras at the same subject, but mostly they are looking out different windows and at different scenery. While Obvious concentrates on America’s colorful offense to the senses and preoccupation with all forms of gluttony (my own vices included), Ordinary concentrates on what could amount to be the un-noticed ultra-violet spectrum of crumbling infrastructure. Ordinary’s contribution is painted in sinister tonalities of gloom and heavy grey while Obvious’ saturated neon tries to mask that gloom and distract us from our inner unhappiness.

To me this is a tag team description of a failing, or possibly fallen, empire. Its citizens are blinded to its state of disrepair by celebrity and oversized bags of cheese puffs toned with mind-numbing, market-researched colors. I hate the truth that can be found in these pictures. It does not seem post-apocalyptic but wishing for the apocalypse, in order to wipe the slate clean. But, then again, I’ve stopped taking my bright green and white meds.

With a portrait like Obvious and Ordinary: America 2006, it makes it hard for me to look in the mirror. Even the title can be read as an affront to the inflated impression we have of ourselves. We are not special. I am obvious and ordinary (and so can you!).

Buy online at Dashwood Books

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