This series is called American Surfaces. It began as a road trip. My idea was to keep a visual diary of meals I ate, people I met, televisions I watched, motel rooms I slept in, toilets I used, as well as the towns I would drive through, and, through this visual diary and series of repeated subjects, build a kind of cultural picture of the country at the time.
But, I had something else in mind at the same time, which was, I wanted to take pictures that felt natural. I think everyone is familiar with the fact that they often write in a different way than they speak, and that their writing can sometimes seem more stilted, and even use a different vocabulary. And I wanted pictures that felt as natural as speaking.
At random moments, whenever I thought of it, I would take what we would call today a screenshot of my field of vision. What was I looking at? What was the experience of looking, like? And I used that as a reference of how to make a picture, rather than the more conventional language about how a picture is supposed to be constructed.
This was first shown in the fall of 1972. The pictures were shown just as you see them here; in a grid, three rows high. They were not behind frames or glass, because I wanted people to see them as small snapshot prints. And one of the things that fascinated me was the color, the palette of the age I was living in.