Block City Chroma Planes

-Yuri Long, 2015-2018

The spaces I want to be in are nurturing and soft and saturated with color. Our cities don’t have enough of that, and as humans we need it.
— Janet Echelman

Preface: Wildfire Spark


Chapter 1: Narrative of a Daywalker


Chapter 2: Horizon Dreams


Chapter 3: Coarse Terrain


Chapter 4: Cycles of Influence


Chapter 5: The Entropy of Misrepresentation


Afterword: The Breakdown


This project explores juxtapositions of color that occur in the vernacular architecture of Washington, DC and its immediate suburbs. This is not the federal city of marble monuments and drab office buildings, but the commercial and residential neighborhoods inhabiting the everyday lives of local residents. Investment in the redevelopment of early 21st century Washington has brought benefits, but some elements of the city’s history are inevitably lost; gentrification is felt in every corner. One of the unique characteristics to emerge in the landscape of 20th century Washington was the vibrant colors of its brick facades painted by individual home and shop owners. Even when unnoticed on a conscious level as people move through their environment, these colorful tableaux still influence our psychology and feelings about a place, but this is gradually being supplanted by a new, homogenized aesthetic. 

My camera is drawn to things with the appearance of imminent disappearance, and in order to root the photographs with their subject matter in time and render the feeling of a place in flux, I decided to execute the entire project using a disappearing technology: expired medium format Kodak Ektachrome color reversal film and a 1964 Rolleiflex 2.8f camera. The particular color palette of film is integral to our memory of the late 20th century, and as film expires its colors subtly shift and variations occur, mirroring our neighborhoods' continuous revision as properties deteriorate, change hands and are renovated. 

My aim with this project is to excavate the marks of color left by anonymous collaborators and create a portrait of the Washington, DC landscape that records and speaks to the transitions we are experiencing in the early 21st century.