“The wonders of digital photography have told me that this picture was taken on July 7th, 2008. That data has stayed buried and encoded in that picture since I exposed a digital frame of film on that day, and since it has moved to and inhabited several devices and computers since that date.
The person is my cousin, Andre, and he is cutting the letters ‘SB’ and an upside down cross into a mirror next to the words ‘HATE FUCK’ which my roommate, John, had cut into that mirror. A mirror that is where the seat should be on a the corner section of a sectional sofa. On July 7th I had just returned from trip to New York, and I had moved into a new apartment the day before I left for that trip. A coworker was about to move out of state and was unloading large items. He told me he had a sectional couch to give me. My roommate and I agreed to pick it up, and we were super bummed at it on sight; not wanting to insult my coworker we took it, and it went straight to our curb. It was remarked to have looked like ‘what Prince would have used for beach furniture in the 80’s.’
I’ve always loved everything about this shot. I love the composition, all the lines that run out of frame, the shapes that creep or slam in from the corners. The power line reflected on the mirror above Andre’s head is almost perpendicular or parallel to the edges of the frame, and it’s the only line that comes close. Closer than it looks at a glance. For a shot with a mirror in the center, there is perhaps no symmetry.
On a personal level. I love Andre’s expression of devious satisfaction. SB was a ‘bicycle gang’ that was a huge part of our social lives at the time. My cousin has been a key figure in my life for a long time. A close friend and someone who I can always count on. A guy who cracks me up, and know everything about me, and vice versa. So many little details in this picture are historical markers about Andre’s, John’s, and my life. It’s a nice artifact that I find myself referencing on occasion and I hope to always be able to look at it when I’d like.” – Justin Blandford
Header image: map of Northeast Houston in 1922, courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.