Why Road Movie?
Although the project consists of a series of fixed images, it's a "movie" in the sense that virtually all of the photographs were made with the car in motion. There's also a sense, when viewing the complete sequence of visually similar images, that they're actually a strip of motion picture film. And, of course, the process of making the images followed a classic "road movie" format...
The title refers obliquely to the 1941 film "49th parallel", which is set along the Canadian border (49°N). Despite the wartime propaganda element, it's an excellent example of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's film making skills, and does give a sense of passing through a landscape even though it's not a road movie as such.
For my own attempt at the genre I have chosen the 52nd parallel: actually a line of 51.904 degrees latitude which corresponds to the widest point of mainland Britain (St David's - Harwich). With pinhole camera clamped against the car windscreen, I embarked on a road trip from west to east coast, tracking the actual line as closely as possible. Wherever my route crossed the line a pinhole photograph was made, usually with the car still in motion. Because of this movement the resultant images (127 in total) are visually similar, with every shot showing the road as a central "A" shape amidst more or less burred surroundings. Occasionally we stopped at the point of crossing the line - to admire the view or wait for traffic ahead, in which case the image is fixed and quite identifiable.
The trip took place during the week 19th-24th July 2010, with an extra day "filling in" on 15th September. I'm indebted to my wonderful assistants Ava Truly Scrumptious & Claire Winfield for their documentation skills, navigational aid & moral support. It was fun!
Now shall I continue the line around the globe...?
University Centre Milton Keynes. 25th June - 13th July 2012
The full set of 127 photographs, documentation, plus a 40 minute "behind the scenes" audio journal
Broomhill Art, Barnstaple. 21st-30th October 2011.
Selected images & documentation.
Photo of MW © Claire Winfield, all other images © Martin Winfield 2011