Hotel McCray, No. 2 • [collage from 11 6x9-inch prints]
1988 • Santa Cruz, California
(click in the image for a larger version)
This post marks the return of Time Machine Tuesday, wherein I fire up the photographic Way Back Machine to delve into my photo archives and post and image from at least two years in the past. Typically I try to post an image taken on or around the same date as the current day, but for today's post, I'm deviating from that practice simply because this one is from nearly 25 years ago and I can't quite recall exactly when in 1988 I made it (that's one of the nice things about digital metadata: it's always easy to identify when you took a photo).
This is an image style I used quite a lot in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I would take several 35mm frames of a scene, enlarge the negatives to 5x7, 6x9, or 8x10 prints (always trying to match each print as close as possible to the ones adjacent to it), and then collage the results together to create large finished pieces such the one above (this one was 36x36 inches). When taking the photos I would try to be conscious of the shape I was creating and how it might look when the prints were fitted together. The gap between the hotel and the sidewalk in this image was an intentional experiment with creating a more fractured image form. In some cases, such as with this image, I would print them full frame with a filed-out negative carrier so you could see the edges and sprocket holes of the 35mm film.
One of the fun aspects of this style was that I could break free from the typical rectangular or square frame. But the style was also very labor-intensive and of the many individual scenes that I shot for this project (each one consisting of 6 to 12 separate exposures), only a small amount made it to the larger finished state. The image above is a copy photo that was made with my iPhone before I removed the prints from the foamcore of this piece. The backing had suffered water and mildew damage over the years and had to be discarded. I still have all the negatives, of course, from this scene and many others. One day, I tell myself that I will fire up my 35mm film scanner and revisit some of these using Photoshop to collage the individual puzzle pieces together and make large format inkjet prints from them. But current work and projects always seems to take up the lion's share of free time. So, while I still hold onto that goal, I'm not holding my breath that I'll get to it any time soon. But, as they say, hope springs eternal...
A Note on the Location: For those familiar with Santa Cruz in the late 1980s, this is when the Hotel McCray was an abandoned wreck of a building (you can see the barb-wired topped chain link fence in front of it in the collage above). I had the opportunity to get inside it once (legally, I might add), and it was in pretty sad state and very creepy. The interior was quite run-down and the exterior had the look of a classic haunted house. In the late 1990s, the property was purchased and the building rennovated with extensive addtions and reopened as an assisted living community for seniors called Sunshine Villa.