Entry Title: "Memoirs of a Screen"
Name: Casey Brown , United States
Category and Expertise: Landscape|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional
Entry Description: A series documenting the large drive-in theater screens from the Southeast U.S. standing like recent cultural relics. Each screen was host to thousands of screenings over the years, marrying the American public's love of the car and outdoor gatherings. All images are large-format to mirror the size of the original screens. The high- resolution detail is created by the very cameras that forced these celluloid projection screens to become obsolete, revealing both the deterioration of the screens and the exuberant regrowth of previously maintained vegetation.
Story: As icons of the original "big screen" Hollywood obsession, these large drive-in theater screens from the Southeast U.S. stand like a recent cultural relics. Each screen was host to thousands of screenings over the years, marrying the American public's love of the car and outdoor gatherings. Drive-in theaters dot the rural American landscape as reminders of a social fabric that once drew entire towns out on Friday nights. Each has featured classics from the 1940s onward, with as much drama played out on the field it faces as on its decayed screen. These communal events have become much rarer.
Shifting tastes, technologies and uses of leisure time have relegated this prime social spot to a cattle pasture at the edge of town. Vegetation now encroaches on each screen as they lose audiences and appeal due to proliferation of individual digital screens and instant movie delivery. These composite photos are very large format to mirror the size of the original screens. The high- resolution detail is created by the very cameras that forced these celluloid projection screens to become obsolete. The exuberant regrowth of previously maintained vegetation will soon consume the theatrical space and further deteriorate the decaying screens.
The series attempts to capture this unique moment where we still remember old Hollywood and its rallying effect on the American public, but already know that the capabilities and conveniences of the digital world are the next stage in imaging evolution. The silver screen is literally fading before our eyes, replaced with imaging technologies it helped bring into existence. We are a more intensely visual culture than ever, and the origins of the film industry are synonymous with the roots of that visual media obsession.
The muted spaces of these outdoor theaters are a type of sacred, ritual arena where we first began to worship the moving image, celebrities, and its associated lifestyle. Hence, “Memoirs of a Screen” is a type of recent archaeology of American public culture. It is an homage to our modern version of Stonehenge—a gathering place where we all basked in the flickering lights after sundown, projecting our wishes, hopes, desires and beliefs onto a collective surface. These are the images we will need to remember our visual roots.