TYLER ROSTE (New York, USA)
Kansas City native, born in Missouri and raised on the Kansas side of the border. The experience of growing up in a very traditional midwestern community can feel a bit stifling, however I always had the endless support of my parents to follow whatever path was in front of me. We lived close to the nearby city and the diversity it brought into my life changed who I was forever, spending much time at places like the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. I still get chills going back there, to me that is the most magical place on earth. I remember driving west to Lawrence, KS to visit my grandparents. We often took trips to Saint Louis and Chicago. Road trips were often, and a special kind of family travel. Ever since I was young I loved to explore, make forts etc. in the many creeks and backyards of my neighborhoods. Creating fantasy worlds and really churning the imagination. I have recently decided that this type of childhood really played a huge part in my love for photography and art in general. It has something to do with the mystifying effects of photography, the symbolism, the poetry. Creating a vision in your head that becomes intertwined with that of reality and spits out some kind of poetic version of both. I get excited thinking about how I am only halfway in control, what the real world reveals to me is ultimately what I can photograph, and I interpret those pictures in my own language.
Change sweeps over the land like a vast fog. Dawn is cold, deep blue resting on the crests of the old hills. Towns of this region have dwindled and been reduced to empty shells. The men are old and battered; the blue-collar dogs of the past have seen their day’s come and go. A tired America looms in the woods alongside the rivers. Fleeting views of rust and black earth. The warm wind in the trees reminds me of something I used to know. Faded flags snap in the gusts on dimly lit porch fronts. Paint flakes dance and chain links sing in the wind. The faces seem to feel it coming, this sort of emptying out of the old, the days being numbered by an unknown future. The weathered eyes stare deep into the soul of something far gone. History is violent and unforgiving in its nature, and as one ancient region fades, I wonder what will happen to the old America.
These photographs were made throughout the state of Pennsylvania mostly within the last 4 months. I wanted to focus on the physical connectedness of land, man and machine. What have we done to our mother Earth to farm the fire from the ground? You can see it in the dystopian landscapes; the earth is pockmarked with leftover mines, buckets of rust and boarded up homes. The project is still in progress; my aim is to explore in depth the fractured land of Anthracite and Bituminous coal in Pennsylvania. I want to know what happened to this idealized version of an industrial America in the 20th century, what’s leftover but a wasteland of old mining towns? What do these places tell us about the future of America?
“…You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.”
– Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Using film to photograph definitely gives me a sense of respect for the world. Each image is an immersive attempt at really seeing. Looking at the world is different. You must really look, and look a lot before you even try to make a picture. With digital I feel that is the opposite. There is less care for the world first, it is about taking the image and adjusting and making another one and so on. Slowing down causes me to reflect on what I am doing at every step, it forces me to be there with image, there with the environment or my subject. Using film, specifically a large format camera, is slow, and sometimes painful, but the sacrifice forces my involvement, forces my full commitment to the images. I am in a sense sacrificing a part of myself to hunt for images and create the world I have imagined. I love it dearly and would not be able to make images any other way.