I am interested in the way aesthetics and media become idealized in the late industrial and how one-time working-class communities internalize such ideologies within their practices and everyday lives in ways that might appear contradictory, or even toxic. To that end, I intend to engage in ethnographic research across the various towns and bedroom communities of the Inland Empire and Southern California desert communities. To get at visuality through a broadly conceived notion of toxicity, I will observe urban explorers local to Southern California, observing their relationalities to the infrastructures of the area, paying close attention to the aesthetics they foment in praxis, and analyzing how people, places, and expressive and social mediation interweave to embody the toxicity intrinsic to life amidst late industrial cultural forms. Moreover, I anticipate time spent with locals in the context of the exploration of structural ruination, will lead me to broader considerations and iterations of toxicity in the intricate milieu of housing instability and flexible capitalism, domestic and working structures endemic to life for young people along the periphery of California’s wealth. My visual attunement will be centered on the artifacts of ruin created and aestheticized by my interlocutors, versus my own captures of the emergent infrastructures of the “gig economy” now proliferating in place of the decaying past across the high and low desert geography of Southern California.
This image was taken at an abandoned munitions bunker in Tustin, California. It was created and included to embody the ways in which vulnerability breeds chaos from sites of rigid structural order. The site in the photo is emblematic of the kinds of places engaged by urban explorers. I made the photo in the spirit of the typical stylized photos circulated on urbex web milieus.
This photo was taken at an abandoned dairy farm in Chino, CA. I used the window of the farmhouse as a foreground frame encasing light saturated hay bales from a still operating farm across the street. Here, I am intimating the viscerality of absence and the entanglements between labor, intimacy, and identity.