In the summer 2016, I decided to cross the United States coast to coast for the third time, three years after the two times I did it by car. I travelled with one of my best friends, Giovanni, mate of many adventures together, among which a journey on a timber raft along a Swedish river the year before. Gio had never been in the States before. Because of our job in Italy we had just 3 weeks of holiday that year, a really limited time compared to the 3 months of the first trip there.
So, trying to pass through so many places as possible, we decided to land in New York City, visit some friends in the city for few days and then leave to reach San Francisco, where another friend of us, Tom, was waiting for us to enjoy the rest of the trip. The idea of traveling three days by bus instead of using an airplane obviously came from our desire to experience once again the way of a slowly journey, when you have time to observe and catch details we often miss living so fast. Both inspired by the words of the Beat Generation’s poets and their journeys. To see, during the condensed time of 72 hours, the landscape transformation of a boundless country as the Unites States. To leave behind the high-rise buildings of the East Coast’s big cities with their light reflections and shadows that expand all over the daily life of the people. Then to find yourself for hours and hours in the endless green of the Middle East getting drier and drier as we chase West sunsets. And finally to wake up in the middle of the ocean fog that every summer morning covers the Pacific coast.
The first time I’ve watered it down in the course of three months, this time in three days. And although they were landscapes already seen before, I watched them through the bus window as if It was the first time.
Their size are in my opinion something breathless, the facility with which you can suddenly outline spaces and read their details has conditioned for sure my way to take pictures, because I always use to find that situations where the elements are easy to read inside a composition clear as possible.
I can say I’ve found this as something unique and different from what I use to see in my country, together with colors and a particular light intensity. But there is an entire world still to see and I’m sure I’ll find similar spaces in my future trips, so maybe one day, when I’ll be able to compare the States with other countries I’ll tell you exactly why they are so special to me.
I hadn’t particular expectations from this bus trip, actually it was really interesting to see the other face of the United States; travelling with a cheap transportation I got closer to that side of America made by ordinary lives. I had never seen before a person with an ankle bracelet, or someone just got out of prison who called a relative to say he was coming home; or an old couple reaching Las Vegas from NY (2 days on the road) for a long weekend of vacation. Physically demanding, but cheap for sure.
Inside Gio’s mind before this trip the States was a country that took shape from big contradictions, a land of freedom but with a conditioned vision, made by big natural spaces near which big malls were built, with a big respect for each other but confined within specific limits.today he says: ”This journey let me make all these sensations alive, testing them in a flowing and sincere way, without no frills. I believe I’ve finally scratched the appearance’s surface to go beyond all of this, and seeing in this country, so big and so different, a unique path simply made by people who live miles away from each other’s. As my Beat’s heroes I understand the fierce beauty of a country that can be lived only a ride at a time, always on the road.”
I brought with me an analog Canon AE-1 with some Kodak Portra 400 films and a digital Canon 5D Mark II with which I shot videos. Photographically speaking I don’t remember a more incredible place than the others, but my favorites have always been in the West; the most special is perhaps the Death Valley.
Generally speaking, maybe the characteristic of “being independent”/decontextualized from a series of some pictures, comes from my attitude to shoot with the desire of taking a note about what I see during that precise moment, apart from the subject, focusing more on light and colors that mark it out. I’ve always collected images from magazines and especially from films, with the wish to become a director of photography one day, so I found out in my camera a way to note down these pictures when I came across them in reality.
I think this is the reason why some shots work alone rather than in a series, even if in my opinion there all part of a same big story.
Text and Images © Giulia Fassina