TV nightscapes


I have always been enchanted by the kinetic light of the television screen. Since my early twenties, I have followed its fluorescent blue glow, photographing it at night when its gleam emanates from living rooms, hotels, bars, campgrounds, trailer parks, and gas stations across the country and throughout the world. I have recorded these moments, when we are all connected by the same news broadcast, baseball game or soap opera – in the act of washing dishes, making love, drinking beer, or babysitting.

I received my first camera as a gift from my friend and fellow filmmaker, Joel Gold. At the time, I was making television, and I was fascinated by the relationship between technology and intimacy. Immediately, I began to photograph these nighttime landscapes, from coast to coast, north to south. And yet, the importance of the locations seemed to diminish as the architecture of gas stations and motels lost their regional identity. It seems like an archeological discovery to see a Native American watching television in his teepee or to catch the electronic glare radiate from a Santa Fe faux-adobe home.

After a while, I started shooting images straight off the airwaves, as a disconnected record of history, and television sets in interiors, to record where and how we watch television, and how we decorate it. Much of our lives are consumed by this ferocious piece of furniture – it is only fitting that we often ornament it so lovingly. These images shift from documentary to single frames from big-screen films, fractions of seconds removed from a narrative. We don’t know the conversation, the soundtrack of intrigue, only that all too familiar action of switching channels, adjusting the dial, and watching. When Joel first saw these photographs, he said, “TV is the glue that keeps us apart.”