This is Yucatán, Mexico, January, 1990. The decade before, I'd been working almost entirely with landscape. And the central visual problem for me, with the landscapes, was to take a very simple picture that did not have manmade elements that I could use in a city to give structural complexity to the picture and use it to convey something that was deep and meaningful to me.
And I wanted to take this, and now bring it to situations where I encounter culture. To make this transition from something that's very elemental, like the rocks and trees and the landscapes, to these cultures, which have, in different ways, very deep roots.
With this aim in mind, I thought of going to the Yucatán—a place I had been to a couple of times before, and was struck by the cultural transformations going on in rural Yucatán, where there were extended families living together, where the grandparents' generation spoke Mayan and not Spanish, and the grandchildren spoke Spanish but not Mayan, that had houses that, architecturally, have remained the same for 800 years, but now are wired, and have television sets. And I saw cultural artifacts that I felt that, in a generation, would disappear.