Same Dream Another Time
When I made these photographs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were two major centers for gambling in the United States: Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Devoted to games, spectacles, and temporary diversions of all kinds, representing the ultimate immoderacies of American consumerism, these cities were designed to be architectural seductions, tapping the collective thirst for risk and reward. Still under the influence of underworld kingpins, Las Vegas was fueling the needs of dream-seekers, utilizing a huge infrastructure of resources and hundreds of thousands of workers. It was the fastest growing city in the country. Atlantic City was trading its worn out, seaside image for modern gambling and convention complexes, displacing thousands of local residents in the process and hoping to turn around the fortunes of the city and the state.
Especially appealing to me were the peripheral associations, which enriched an already complex, social and physical structure: i.e., celebrities, prizefights, prostitution, beauty pageants, weddings, etc. As a photographer, I was fascinated with the accentuated layers and intersections of people, artifice, architecture and landscape. I was searching for circumstances charged with expectation and aspiration; stirred by fantasy, so that, through my photographs, I might then strip away those expectations, exposing the symbols of desire along side the realities of pretense and uncertainty. In this way I was hoping to construct images of visual and psychological tension, mirroring the complex processes that contrast imagination and reality.
Revisiting my archive of negatives now, has necessarily suggested a different viewing of these pictures. Many photographs that I had originally ignored or rejected have found their way back into the body of this project, and have commanded a new edit. This project is both a time capsule and an index of the contemporary, addressing themes that are every bit as acute today as they were twenty-five years ago.