I went out into the desert to photograph Pearblossom Highway HWY 138. Inspired by the work of David Hockney.
I was interested to see how the location looked some 30 years later. Also to see how he transformed the landscape into the actual art piece. When I arrived at the location, to my disappointment the location had changed tremendously. The highway was widened to four lanes, the stop sign was removed and replaced with a traffic light. The HWY 138 sign was gone and the stop sign ahead was missing.
Originally it was my intent to make a 180 degree panorama of the location with a set of five polaroids. I also took my Leica Digilux made in 1997/8 to make a few images using old technology. I made the five polaroids using my Fuji 4×5 polaroid camera, but was not happy with the results. The images were too dark and the resolution and color did not serve the image well. It was difficult to see the traffic light color against the back lit sky.
So I decided to experiment with the Leica Digilux. I was limited by a small smart media card 3MB and 25 images, the battery of the camera is old and was running down. The winds were about 70MPH and the Temperature was around a 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so conditions were not pleasant, in addition I had driven out 21/2 hours to the desert location. So, I had to make something out of the experience.
I decided to make a series of five images, and decided to name it a polyptych instead of pentaptych which is the correct name for five images, because polyptych sounds more fluid and it means many.
Polyptych Pearblossom HWY138/165E #2., Jun 27, Noon. 2018 ©Pierre Chemaly
I decided to leave the date stamp on the image. This was the default of the manufacturers production date. Felt like I was looking at the images back in 1998. I used the color red for the traffic light, same color as old stop sign of David Hockney’s image, also it clashes with the color in nature symbolising the clash between industry and nature. Green was the same as the bushes and yellow blended to much with the sand. I went over to all the vertical poles, sign, light and Joshua tree and set them up side by side. I made a few versions on this image this one the horizon line is more of less even. In the others I had the centre image larger, more in line with the requirements of the polyptych, and in another version, I had all the verticals in the centre.