»L.A. Special«: Photographer Phil Jung peers through the windows of American cars

Images courtesy of the artist and TBW Books from the book Windscreen, 2022.


To what extent can a look inside a vehicle reveal the influence of language, religion, economics, politics and other value systems in the private lives of its owners? The American photographer and artist Phil Jung looked through the windscreens of parked cars with his camera and made this otherwise rarely so transparent boundary between public and private space the subject of his »Windscreen« series.

»I see this group of images as a contemporary look at our social landscape through the windshields, or windscreens, of parked cars. I am fascinated by how these unique personal spaces can be rendered in a photographic image. A car’s interior defines the line between public and private space. While peering into these spaces I wonder if the interior, often littered with personal articles, can describe the way language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena play a role in the owner’s life. The biggest challenge of the project is taking something as iconic as the automobile and adding something new to a conversation that has been going on since its inception. The gasoline-powered vehicles that were introduced in 1896 represented freedom, hope, exploration and independence – quintessentially American ideals. By 1947, when the photographer Wright Morris made his image of an aging Model T, those early ideals had already begun to deteriorate. Like Morris’s pictures, »Windscreen« is about a culture that is disappearing. When combing through neighborhoods for cars, I look first for the way light enters a car and renders color. If I find nothing inside its cabin that tells something about its owner, I move on. Above all, the car needs to be drivable or just recently taken off the road. If a car sits for too long uninhabited, it loses something. The composite of this space reflects who we are, where we come from and, possibly, where we are going.«

Windscreen, Phil Jung, 2022. Erschienen bei TBW Books.

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