"The familiar as such, precisely because it is familiar, is for that very reason not known."
The lauded American dream of owning a home seems to have died an unceremonious death during the darkest moments after the housing crash of 2008. The talking heads on TV pose apartments to be a new normal; a lesser dream for the masses. I happened to be living in an apartment in Santa Monica, California at the height of the crisis. When I first heard this pejorative narrative about settling for apartments it merely annoyed me. After all, I've lived in apartments all of my adult life. So too, most of my friends, both in Los Angeles and elsewhere, live in apartments. But after my initial irritation subsided, I started noticing the tangled texture of the apartment landscape that sprawled all around me.
Over the course of five years I restlessly wandered and re-wandered a ten block radius around my "Apartment Home" (as the sign that advertised for vacancies called the units). Alongside the traces of the frenetic activity, now faded, during boom years, the apartment building landscape in this ocean-side town seemed designed to hide humanity. Deep and densely armored with stucco the architecture itself pushed the outside world to the edges of the lots. The ever-shifting neighbors anxiously present precisely because of their absence. Their discarded furniture and housewares the only hints of their fleeting presence.
The more time I spend wandering out amongst the apartment-scape the more clear my position as the observer of poetic nothings is solidified. I can never know even a fraction of the stories happening all around me. But here too, the camera rises to become the tool to still the world and pry beyond the edges of restless vision. It is the tool to drive a focused search for the small clues hidden in plain sight as to what makes up a home. Like the end of a relationship, this landscape is always forged of a simultaneous lack and overabundance of imagination. Under the camera's scrutiny the most familiar places break apart and become increasingly alien. The gravity of the alien is a spiral of images leads ever inward. The most familiar places are often the hardest to see.