Nocturnal is a result of photographer Frank Hallam Day’s month-long journey through Florida. In his images, Day explores the relationship between man and the environment through the lens of the recreational vehicle (RV). These ultra-modern, high-tech, luxury homes on wheels, seemingly as anti-nature as could be, become confusingly entwined with the night-time jungle landscapes of Florida.
Throughout Nocturnal, the ambiguities of this relationship become evident. For example, the RV models shown in the series have names like Wilderness, Mountaineer, Escaper, Cougar and Falcon. This closeness to and simultaneous alienation from the world of nature feels characteristic of the relationship between modern man and the environment. While the brightly lit mobile homes cower and hide themselves between the trees, they also become beacons of safety against the darkness.
Many of Day’s images appear posed and artificial but they are not. Day had the time to take such careful photographs because he was not bothered by the owners of these vehicles. The residents are never seen because they are cocooned in the bright warmth of their luxurious homes away from home. But outside of their sanctuary, the atmosphere is artificially illuminated by the electric glow they bring into the “wilderness”: Do the RVs represent escape or isolation? Fear or excitement? Destruction or appreciation?
These are eerie photographs and the book is unsettling from beginning to end. Day takes a very specific subject and pushes it as far as it will go. Nocturnal is not a magnum opus but a focused, very well executed series worthy of consideration.
Nocturnal by Frank Hallam Day
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag
Hardcover: 80 pages