Artist Statement: Transportation Transformations

image of Cruisin 32 Ford by Kathleen Hocker Photography

Cruisin 32 Ford by Kathleen Hocker

As I approached retirement after many years of teaching, I rediscovered my passion for photography. With newly found time and energy, I sought out situations that provided opportunities to shoot systematically and extensively. After a long career in chemistry and physics, I was drawn to mechanical objects that for me were fascinating on several levels. The surfaces and components of these machines contain a wealth of raw material for creating photographic images.

In engineering a vehicle, as with any successful design, form follows function. In my photos this function of the object becomes irrelevant as I create a new form from the basic elements that are presented. The new form becomes more interesting than the intended function of the vehicles. I attempt to renew and preserve the artifacts from different stages of technology. That which was once new became old and now becomes new again.

In Transportation Transformations, I have concentrated on details of vehicles that have been transformed by nature or by the camera lens. Nature has eroded and rusted surfaces. Sometimes, the vehicles provide a place for plant material to grow and transform the machine into a suitable home. Nature has taken what was once smooth and shiny and transformed the vehicle into texture and entropy. What was whole becomes perforated and broken. My work discovers what is left behind that is still intriguing and visually captivating. When the machinery is new or restored, I work with the camera to transform the vehicle to appear in a different form. Brightly colored or shiny parts are isolated to be appreciated for their individual form or beauty.

I look through the camera lens as both artist and scientist, to uncover the hidden reality that lies beyond the obvious. I study complex systems of mechanical devices and see the simplicity of the structure — the elegance of the fundamental form that underlies the function of the machine. I present these in a visually formal composition. These images seek to present the balance found within a chaotic world as I attempt to preserve what is beautiful and meaningful.

Technically, I shoot mostly with a 300 mm lens that serves to magnify and reduce the dimensionality of the object that is forming my images. I use the camera lens as a microscope to research little noticed parts that can be isolated and transformed into photographic images. The images I capture lose the identity of the vehicle and study the lines, shapes, patterns and colors balance of the image. Designs tend to be asymmetrical to show the dynamic balance that is found in working machines that is sometimes lost in two-dimensional images.

I have travelled from big city auto shows to small town auto museums and country auto graveyards. I have visited aircraft carriers in naval yards and airplanes in museums throughout the United States. I have walked railroad tracks and discovered trains in dozens of museums and depots.

The opportunity to find meaningful images is all around us.

— Kathleen Hocker