Lost for Words
For seven years I was captivated by a small rectangular, weathered wooden plank that was nailed to an imposing oak tree alongside a rural road that I passed nearly every day. It’s blank face spoke to me strongest in the days of transition from winter to spring, when the scene was enveloped in flat, grey light and there was no foliage on the trees to distract from it. In early winter 2010, I began noticing more of these abandoned signs revealing themselves when unobstructed by vegetation, made of wood, metal, plastic or paper. These signs were originally posted to assert possession of a particular piece of property, but over time the legal messages that they originally bore had worn away. Some still possessed remnants of a message. All of them exposed a strange moment in which language was literally, physically decomposed, eroding and emptying the signs of their original linguistic force. These signs compose “Lost for Words,” and the first of five interrelated series of photographs I have made, based on isolating and elevating the unseen, unrecognized passage of time as man encroaches on nature, and nature returns the favor. One hundred and thirty seven sites in Ulster County, NY were visited and photographed between 2011 and spring of 2014.