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L.A. Vedute: Thomas Locke Hobbs

Chase Starr

Thomas Locke Hobbs methodically captures property lines in Los Angeles in large-format black and white. The smooth paperback cover displays the title in large type and a photograph representative of the abundant negative spaces that can be found between apartment buildings. The book is quite thick at ~1 inch. Between the binding packets are sections of yellow paper that add variety to the minimalist design. On those pages are images of leaves, dirt, and trash that stand in contrast to the manufactured structures. Maybe they highlight the eventual end-state where the apartment buildings are demolished and returned back to the earth.

A driveway and tall, thin tree between two apartment buildings.

Stained white walls, cracked pavement, tall iron fences. Signs display repeated messages: “no trespassing”, “private property”, “tow-away zone”, “premises under video surveillance”. Photographs in the book span across each page spread where the page gutter highlights the division point between properties. It’s a cleaver idea that invites the book material into the artistic statement. Some buildings are Spanish inspired with stucco walls and clay roof tiles. Others have overgrown vines crawling up the walls or weeds reaching up through cracked pavement. I’m attracted most to neighbors which are starkly different from one another: A construction site next to a finished building, or a vacant shell covered in tarps next to a parking lot.

Save for one or two photographs, no humans are present within the book. Little decoration conveying inhabitant expression can be found. Angelenos are said to live in their commutes. They certainly do not live in these in-between driveways, parking garages, and walkways. “Liminal spaces” as an artistic subject matter is creatively commodified to the point that “/LiminalSpace” is a top 1% Reddit community; where images in this book would be tagged “Classic Liminal”. I will likely not return to this book for a while. It aptly delivered its message within the first twenty pages, but I don’t need a comprehensive dictionary.

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