Far from the Californian experience of long car trips to which I had grown accustomed, I rediscovered the joys and constraints of European public transportation. It was during one of my many trips from Genoa to Milan and Genoa to Turin that this project was born.
I had taken some photographs and very quickly realized that my pictures were out of sync with the landscape going by the train window. In my memory I had retained a combination of many fragments of images, a phenomenon Benjamin Gastineau called “synthetic glance” and Aldous Huxley defined as “global vision”.
To indicate how fast things were moving I had to call upon the blur of the moving object, as well as typical visual accidents: reflections in the windows, interference from trees, etc. Also, the slow exposure added an unforeseen element to the project, an interplay in which “chance” often determines the image’s framing. After much back-and-forth, a photographic sequence took form where the landscapes’ details disappeared into a blur and form dissolved into color. All that remained was to simulate the train’s movement as well as the fragmentation of the images. The final form of this enterprise is an installation of ten photographs divided in half, with each half mounted on sliding aluminum panels, which, once opened, measure more than four meters wide.
In retrospect, what remains of a train trip? “Fugitive impressions” wrote J. Jongkind or “visual states”, according to Degas. “Travels (by Train)” is an attempt to answer this question by suggesting an original and ever-shifting visual approach.
Unique copy, 2011
10 inkjet prints on Epson Luster paper – 17″ x 11″ (43cm x 28cm), divided in half.
Twenty aluminum panels on rails – 9 1/2″ x 13″ (24cm x 33cm), open: 13.5 ft x 13″ (420 cm x 28 cm).
Protective aluminum box – 9 1/2″ x 13″ (24 cm x 33 cm).
Prototype: Gianni and Giuseppe Sechi – Project: Luigi Alessandrini.