Standing in front of a Drive-in some time ago, I heard a friend simply say, “Katte sien spoke”,
( cats see ghosts ). It seemed inexplicably profound at the time. We may not all see ghosts, but there is a sense one gets upon seeing a Drive-in that is a mixture of history, memory, nostalgia and fantasy and a very real sense that time changes everything.
Time itself has not only stood still here but also been stretched and turned somewhat inside out.
There is, I think, more to this picture than meets the eye. Taking this picture was essentially an endeavour to save this moment, but time and meaning move inexorably onward.
This picture, I think, simultaneously combines both birth and death, though is not important in and of itself, unless by using it we might discover our own immediate and only important purpose.
Its meaning follows our feeling.
Seeing this picture establishes our place in its surrounding world, the photo is at once a silent, meditative memorial and a diorama-like narrative stage on which we project our own stockpile of imagery and meaning.
I have been unconsciously drawn, in retrospect, to a few similar aspects about Drive-ins and how they relate to other Drive-ins. The screen itself is obviously a focal point but what makes the scene so arresting is its desolation and vacancy. The “panorama” series is a way of looking at a Drive-in and placing it within it’s own distinctive context. More than a documentary though, it is a private conversation or a dated home video of a child’s feeling of discovery and sense of adrenaline, (I discovered the Hartebeespoort Drive-in by accident, looking down from a near by cable car).
I have invariably found at least one inhabitant at each Drive-in I have visited and they, like this picture perhaps, become their vigil keepers.