Roadside photography holds a prominent place in the chronicles of Americana, but none are quite like Luis Gispert’s. While Dorothea Lange took to the road with her camera in the 1930s to document families migrating during the Depression; and William Eggleston began producing intensely saturated photographs of cars and roadside culture in the ’60s, inspiring artists, such as Paul Graham, to pick up their cameras and follow suit; Luis Gispert presents photographs of landscapes taken on his own road trip, but through the windshields of military aircraft cockpits and fetishistically pimped-out cars.
In “Tender Game,” Gispert’s upcoming exhibition at David Castillo Gallery, he showcases new photographs in which he superimposes shots of retro aircraft interiors, dense with mechanical controls, over images of epic landscapes—from the South Dakota Badlands to the German Alps—placing viewers in the driver’s seat. “Alas the clichéd ubiquitous landscape photograph bored me to tears, I needed to frame the landscapes in a context that interested me,” Gispert told us in an interview last year.
These mediated panoramas of the natural world present an interesting tension: viewed through the lens of fighter jets, the pristine wildernesses beyond are framed as targets, recalling video games, or space ships and science fiction. We are reminded of the potential for human destruction, as well as the will to lord over the natural world. But Gispert’s images are ambiguous in their stance, charged with as much nostalgia for man made aircrafts—lovingly titled Superstratto, Fat Hercules, and Globemaster during wartime periods of deployment—as for the sublime landscapes outside. It’s hard to know where to look in these photographs; interior and exterior are equally seductive. Their beauty lies in the fact that they are filled with a sense of promise—and with loss.
“Tender Game” is on view at David Castillo Gallery, Miami, Feb.6th—Mar. 29th, 2014.