Commentary - 'Plano'

Having recently relocated to North Texas from Southern California I am seeing the area with fresh eyes. I was a Dallas native and left after college 13 years ago, returning only rarely to the East Dallas/ White Rock Lake area - an older part of town which has changed little. The rapid expansion in population and development in the far northern parts of town, including Plano, is like an entirely new city for me. It reminds me somewhat of Irvine and parts of Orange County in Southern California - its newness and cleanliness and economic demography. The differences, however, are substantial, and the visual aspects of the regional landscape and culture are particularly interesting and the focus of this work.

The miles upon miles of cookie cutter housing developments ('pink palaces' or Plano palaces') - the large open fields that still exist and which transition directly into even larger cemented parking areas and long walls of super stores, still new, clean and sparsely populated - the unrelenting horizontality and hence the lack of ability to get a 'view' on anything; the overwhelmingly large and active sky which is mostly ignored - all these image places are both the resonant center and dissonant catalyst for the project.

The visual method for exploring the ideas involves massaging video data to the point where it becomes in one way generic (through obfuscation) and in another way aesthetically very specific (by strictly dictating the look). Capturing and manipulating these images has allowed me to ingest them and reflect on their possibly unconsidered implications and effects - to examine intuitively how such a landscape is now influencing lives as well as how even in its absence it has influenced mine.

The textual method for exploring these ideas in this case is through an imaginary character in a combination of sample/example confessional and conversational text. The subject talks alternately of his general state of happiness and his violent tendencies - contrasting the social pressure to behave and an increasingly uncontrollable desire to react maliciously. In the end he feels that his (traditional, regional) god is toying with him. His language and forms of personal expression display his limited context, a context which has betrayed him.

The larger project, for which this is a study, will deal more extensively with how visual structures and landscape and the specifics of regional culture inform and actually define character and potentiality.

Dean Terry
October 2002

video | stills | commentary