Inspired in part by John Baldessari’s ‘The Backs of All the Trucks Passed While Driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, California, Sunday, 20 January 1963’, Glen Rubsamen began a project in 2012 to photograph billboards and palm trees together in the same moment. It became quickly apparent that it was almost impossible to photograph a billboard in Los Angeles without a palm tree sneaking into the picture frame. The aesthetic construction which Rubsamen describe as “An accidental ensemble” is an exercise in ‘chance’ composition and a humorous negation of the classical photographic principles of perspective, sequence and scale. The rules of the construct included:
1 All photos had to be taken from inside the car
2 The photos were taken ‘along the route’ to normal destinations (shopping, visiting friends, work) not the result of an Art-making expedition
3 The billboards and palms in the photos would share the role equally of primary subject.
The Billboards are a two dimensional, constantly changing, mass-media sales event, the palms are mostly very old (at least thirty years sometimes much more) and they are three dimensional living creatures. The result of this ‘accidental ensemble’ is an image which defines a new ‘Culture/Nature’ symbiosis. The images transform themselves into a type of child’s play, like the games we used to invent in the back seat of the car to drive away boredom during a family weekend.