Friday in February, Highway 316
One cannot speak of American culture without referencing its full embrace of the automobile and the endless ways it has shaped American geography, architecture, and social structures. In a country where it is almost impossible to live without a car, I feel that the interstate has become the public space of our time, not the town square, not the internet. Curiously, most people choose to drive their own car rather than take public transportation. Perhaps they are acting out of a deep-seated desire to avoid interaction with strangers, preferring privacy and the ability to control their immediate environment. But the truth is, our windowed vehicles create only the illusion of privacy. Car interiors are a rare space - at once both private and public. And while people may tune out the outside world; deep in self-reflection or absorbed in the dramas or minutiae of life playing out in their car, just as often they feel compelled to look at each car they pass, curiously searching for momentary glimpses of fellow travelers and the details that can reveal their personal stories.
Since 2014, I’ve been taking portraits of interstate drivers and passengers acting out this paradoxical desire for both isolation and connection. I am purposefully invading this space, not just with my gaze but with the camera lens, penetrating the illusion of privacy and separation and recording their reaction or self-absorption. This provocative action brings awareness to a disturbing drift I see in contemporary interactions – a move away from connection and toward ever-increasing time in isolation. This tendency has been accelerated by the practical necessities of the COVID pandemic. “In Passing” seeks to draw attention to what is an unnatural way of being for such social animals.