/06 Cars

Michael Corridore

Angry Black Snake

This is a project that I have undertaken over the past six years or so. I’ve always had an interest in the culture of the automobile and its influence on us.

My original thought was to portray the people who attended the events that involved automobiles until I experienced these incredible moments during a burnout competition. At the first event that I attended, the atmosphere in the crowds was quite charged leading up to the burnout competition. Once the competitors began their performances in the burnout competition, these amazing moments of absolute mayhem unfolded within the crowds. People, particularly kids, just scattered in reaction to the alarming jet engine noise levels and the toxic smell of tyre smoke. The smoke becomes overwhelming, after a while, your eyes sting and your lungs are screaming for a break from the rubber residue in the air. The combination of smoke and noise leads to these strange dreamlike moments where without the benefit of information of the scenario, it’s difficult to make senses of the events. The actions of the people in the photographs seem totally at odds with what appears to be going on within their landscape. The expressions on their faces in many cases appear calm and contradict the suggestion of a tragic event unfolding.

It’s this loss of connection with their environment, which appealed to me. The smoke created a visual censorship of the true story. The movements and reactions of the spectators combined with the smoke and random topography of the landscape where these events occur, helped to create this strange sense of deceptive perspective and back story. You begin to question what is happening in these people’s lives within these sets of circumstances.

These photographs have taken on more of an observational view of the way we interact with our environment or landscape, rather than a be a commentary of the given events. This train of thought is more in line with my landscape work, which relates to a broader topic of the way we in which we interact or impose our ways on the landscape. The photographs do pose questions rather than offer an easy answer. Like the landscapes photographs that I take, the work is minimal in its supply of visual information.

The events themselves can be rather spectacular and the captured moments are fleeting, which is why it has taken so long to build a body of consistent photographs. I’d be lucky to leave an event with more than a handful of images that I’m happy with. If there is any wind around, the smoke blows through quickly, so you may only have seconds to capture the spectators suspended in a curiously choreographed moment. There are so many variables, the people’s positions, level of smoke, direction of wind, weather conditions, the nuances of peoples reactions. The people need only open their mouths slightly, close their eyes or turn their heads down and the pictures will communicate a different story.

When I first reviewed my proof sheets from the very first event, I found that the photographs that were mostly filled with smoke were the most compelling to me. The scarcity of any visual clues to the cause and effect of the smoke, the censorship of the landscape and the apparent disconnection of the crowds emotional response to their environment asked many questions. As the work progressed, I found that I needed to concentrate on specific sets of circumstances to capture the scenarios that I wanted at these events. If those circumstances didn’t evolve, I wasn’t going to get the pictures I wanted. The images are not set up, subsequently this approach dictated the time frame with which I had to work with.

The ‘Angry Black Snake’ project has led me down a path of searching for fiction captured within real moments.