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Transparencies: Small Camera Works 1971-1979 offers an alternative account of one of the most fabled episodes in photographic history: the cross-country journeys that produced Stephen Shore’s luminous new vision of the American landscape, Uncommon Places. Along with his large-format camera, Shore also brought a 35mm Leica on his travels. The images made with it, on luminous colour slide film, are intimate, spontaneous and personal, while retaining Shore’s studied formal sensitivity. In these entirely unseen photographs, a parallel iteration of an iconic vision emerges like a piece of music played in a new key.
The vocabulary is familiar: highways and homes, phone boxes, fast food and sun-strewn parking lots. But the alternative format unmistakably re-envisions these subjects through distinct experiments with composition, attitude, and colour. Transparencies uncovers both a detail-oriented survey of the American landscape of the 1970s and a rigorous, imaginative exercise in form by an undisputed modern master.
With an afterword by Britt Salvesen, curator at LACMA, titled ‘Ordinary Speech: The Vernacular in Stephen Shore’s Early 35mm Photography’.