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The Nostalgic Phantasma: A Transhistorical Visual Poetics of Place

The works shown here were part of an exhibition on display at the Window Gallery at Last Ave StudiosThis project makes use of the gallery’s situated context in the Outer Sunset District of San Francisco to construct a visual poetics of place developed from photographic and ephemeral materials from several archives and localities.  The project’s aim is to create an installation that makes use of materials from the historical past and the contemporary present to synthesize and represent various socio-historical realities.  Archival photographs provided an opportunity to integrate several points from the historical record spanning from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to a more recent present.  In particular, I was searching within the visual archives for the ecological transcendent and the nostalgic sublime: elements that I suspected would require recovery using contemporary methods.  Digital editing allowed for this excavation, in conjunction with original photographic works integrated into a seamless fold of the visual historic record (one less immediately representational than poetically communicative).  The larger installation (not available here) includes an assemblage, or visual poetic, making use of remixed materials. Maneki Neko Money Lucky Cats (common fixtures of local businesses) and shrine lights purchased from Chinatown are de-contextualized and appear next to found objects such as driftwood and discarded ephemera from Ocean Beach.  These objects are reestablished in communion with the historical record to re-constellate various time markers and suggest a new relationship to the place where they conglomerate: The Outer Sunset.

Special thanks to the California Historical Society's North Baker Research Library Archive and Princeton University’s Minor White Archive for use of photographic materials for this project.