I'm fascinated by the boundaries between properties in my midwest suburban community. In larger, more affluent neighborhoods the boundaries appear much more open and natural. Elements such as sweeping picket fences or tracks of trees combined with the greater distances between houses allows for an ease of interactions and casual transitions from one property to the next. In neighborhoods like mine the space is more compressed; the distance between domiciles is much more intimate.
Boundary conditions suggest a myriad of complex and dynamic human relations. In some cases they are the boundaries between good neighbors and close friends. In others, the boundaries conditions suggest distant acquaintances, even rivals. Some neighbors try to make the quality of the lawns identical, signaling a veneer of shared values, both aesthetic and monetary. The public-facing front lawns may be identical and seamless but, more often than not, the back yards signal separation and provide privacy and security.
These boundary interactions seem to evolve slowly over time. Sometimes spoken and worked out between cooperative neighbors, other times they are passive aggressive action and response. They may breed confidence, pride, insecurity, and judgement. The conflict and community that occurs along these borders is a peculiar kind of of fascinating intercourse. To complicate matters, the state, in the form of local municipalities often engages the same space with terribly unsatisfying eyesores of bad design.
I have been documenting these transitional spaces between properties to use as basic vocabulary in my work. I take daily walks and stop at every interesting border I find to take a few quick shots with my cell phone. The entire process takes no more than fifteen seconds. Apparently, in the Post 9-11, Homeland Security See Something Say Something, stay-at-home quarantine Covid19 era taking photographs of property boundaries is an activity that is sufficiently suspicious to alert the local authorities. I might add that Google constantly engages in the same activity, though their focus is not on innocuous landscape marginalia but on the actual residences. As a side note you can, according this website, request that Google blur the street view image of your house.
Here is an image of a small yellow SUV standing across the street from my house. Inside the SUV is my concerned neighbor who, upon noticing my fifteen second stop at the boundaries of his property, decided to stealthily follow me home in his vehicle and call the police, A few moments later the police arrived and an officer sauntered up to my front door to inquire about my activities. I was a little shocked but took the opportunity to explain my cool art project to the officer including the photographs of fences, bushes and fire hydrants. He asked to speak to my wife...alone. I think all the art talk was just so completely out of the ordinary that he may have thought I was suffering from mental illness. My wife played the artist card and the officer seemed satisfied and left to mollify my alarmed neighbor.
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