By Star Rush
“America is a dream / The poet says it was promises /
The people say it is promises—that will come true,”
—Langston Hughes (The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes)
Go! On the move. Rubber. Steel. Chrome. The vehicles that take us to and from our destinations also give us a glimpse into our selves, our past and our cultural, collective, and personal identities. Cars. An Open Road. Freedom. Consumption. Promises.
Taken on the streets of Seattle, this series explores feelings that cars of the 1960s and 1970s evoke in me, an immigrant, of an American past that’s hard to get a handle on. Cars have a close association with America’s cultural mythos of mobility, independence, self-reliance, consumption and the ethos of cool. Jack Kerouac romanticized them as he explicated “the road,” about driving away and watching people on the horizon receding as cars pull away from one place to head to another. But the gaze turns from inside to outside; I’m standing here, watching these cars pull away from me, receding into miles that stretch from such an idealistic vision of wants, of careless highways, dark and starry nights in a mythical west, to an endlessly deferred horizon. It keeps me from looking too closely at the debris and residue between here and there. What fuels this imagining? What sustains the consumption and recycling of past into present? I’m not sure if I’m nostalgic or sentimental.
A symbol of the American Dream, a car is a metaphor built of imagination and steel, sculpted forms, the output of manufacturing lines and factories, hot sparks, physical labor, sweaty brows—the design of a dream. Whose dream? All over Seattle, I find the cars of my own childhood, now there, suddenly parked, at the corner of a street … and they’re here, in another America, today. I’m provoked by the juxtaposition of that scene between what is arriving and what is departing. What am I recovering in these images, these observations of old cars parked on city streets, artifacts from somewhere else that are as far away from me as a fuzzy dream, one I struggle to recall throughout the day and can’t.
Click through and check out Star Rush’s beautiful black and white image of classic american cars taken on the streets of Seattle. The photo series is exclusive to The Mobile Photo Group.