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Alex Eaton

[ Stillnotes ] 06 — Book-shaped things

Published over 1 year ago • 2 min read

06 » Book-shaped things

Oi! Apologies for the late post this week. But we'll be back on schedule moving forward.

I was laid up with COVID over the past two weeks, and I fought through some of the brain fog to work through my digital archives from the past year. As my road trip around the American west enters its final leg, I've started thinking about what comes next. The biggest answer, which I've known I want to do for a while, is a book-shaped thing. A full photo book? An essay collection with images? I'm still unsure of the final structure, but working through the archive was helpful as I think through initial themes for the project.

What do I have to say from what will end up as a year and a half on the road? What do my photos say separately and together? Are their threads linking them all?

It's a daunting task, but I've made some initial progress which feels exciting. The image I shared above hits on one of the themes I've been exploring... which is the meeting between past and future selves. If you'll humor me... a few of my working thoughts on this:

Often we find ourselves suddenly thrust into new chapters of life. A major event happens, whether positive or negative, and we are living a different life than maybe even the day before. But these selves you can compare are varied. You can compare yesterday and today, or your six year old self to your 30 year old self.

This trip, I realized, is a slow introduction to my next chapter. It extended this meeting of selves over a very long period of time... to the point where I'm able to realize I'm in this transitionary phase while I'm still in it. I can feel the pull of these different selves at the same time and it spans across years of my life. Referencing the image above, I'm feeling more connected to my past self growing up in Indiana than I ever have (a topic I talked about in my latest Rambler if you'd like to hear more). Images in the country, the plains, remind me of this self. They also serve as representations of the transitionary. Gas stations off the highway are the threads that tie America together across thousands of miles. These spaces blend together as you visit more of them, coming to signify a liminal state more than a place in and of itself. They maintain their uniqueness in very small ways, if at all, but the state they exist in feels exactly the same.

So this image, while seemingly innocuous seen individually, holds a lot of stock for the themes I'm working through.

If you have thoughts on this let me know. I'm following every idea to see where it leads, comparing it to my photos, and eventually I'll hopefully hold a book-shaped thing that brings it all alive.

Thanks for reading, see you on Thursday!

—Al

Alex Eaton

Writer, photographer

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