I realized two things:
I haven’t found the question of my project yet. What is the question I am looking for the answer to. Instead, I’m just finding information that could be building up to bits of answers.
I need to find or create a photographic process that will create something new; a process that will stretch the limit of our notion of the photograph.
It seems like my thesis project on Oakland is beginning to narrow itself down, which is a very good thing. For the last two weeks I’ve been really scared that I wouldn’t be able to find a focus of my project.
I went jogging around Lake (it’s actually a lagoon) Merritt with a friend and I described to her my project. She listened, truly listened, and said: this is what I’m hearing:… It helped so much to have her tell me what she thinks about where my work is going, and the links between that and where it’s been. She was right! My work really deals with place, and asking the question over and over: where am I? Who am I in this place? It sounds obvious and maybe everyone is asking this question all the time, but I suppose I am still young and feel allowed to consistently ask it. I am understanding myself by bouncing myself off the world. And the world is changing me as I attempt to change it.
At the Oakland Public Library, in the upstairs history room, I spent a couple of hours reading about the Key System that used to run all over Oakland. I thought, what if I picked one streetcar line and followed its current-day road, with my camera, with my poetry, with my experience? A professor suggested that I use my own street: the line that used to run up Shattuck Ave to Berkeley. It was a prominent line, getting students and faculty up to the university.
Since I’ve moved to my new apartment I’ve considered Shattuck as the back of something—it feels like it’s the back road up to Berkeley, and in some ways it could be one of the main roads, and perhaps it is, but it still feels to me like it isn’t the main drag. Maybe because I have higher more urban expectations of it from living in Brooklyn, or maybe because it feels like it should have more people on it. I’m not sure. But this is worth thinking about and researching, too.