Night Shots: John Brian King's Photos of 1980s Los Angeles | KCET
Night Shots: John Brian King's Photos of 1980s Los Angeles
The following is an excerpt from the photography book "LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84" by John Brian King, being released November 2, and available for pre-order at spurleditions.com.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, near the airport, in a neighborhood called Westchester; it was blank and empty, a physical landscape of concrete and an aural landscape of jetliner noise. Aeronautics was omnipresent in my childhood: I lived on a street called Flight, I went to Orville Wright Junior High School, and my father worked as an engineer on the B-52 bomber and the Space Shuttle. My visits to the airport were limited to dropping off and picking up my parents' friends and relatives -- we lived close, after all, and they could park at our house for free.
I left Westchester at the age of seventeen, but I often returned to shoot photographs of people at the airport (the "LAX" section of this book). I rode a motorcycle (I had a couple of secret spots to park my bike) and mostly shot at night before going to late-night punk shows in Chinatown, Hollywood or the South Bay. I consciously went for an assaultive form of photography -- flash, wide-angle lens, hit and run, no permission asked.
I went to art school thirty miles north of Los Angeles. My favorite teachers were photographers Jo Ann Callis, Judy Fiskin and John Divola; conceptual artists John Baldessari, Michael Asher and Douglas Huebler; and poet-translator Richard Howard. It was a fortunate time in my life.
After finishing school I lived in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles and worked at Carnation Milk. I bought a beautiful piece of machinery, the brutalist Pentax 6x7 camera, and took photos of Los Angeles at night (the "L.A." section of this book). Avoiding people, I imagined myself as an archaeologist who had landed amid the bizarre debris of a dying culture. (I was also influenced by one of my favorite childhood movies, "The Omega Man," with its images of an empty apocalyptic Los Angeles.)
Then the negatives sat in a box for thirty years. I gave up photography and did other things: writing, design, filmmaking.
But recently I made a feature film called "Redlands," which was about the relationship between a young female model and an older male photographer, and even though the film was (among other things) a critical look at the genre of "glamour photography," I realized I missed taking pictures.
So I have picked up the camera again. I am now shooting digitally and in color, but my aesthetic, as evidenced by the photographs in this book, remains the same.
-- John Brian King
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, KCET and PBS SoCal will air special programming throughout the month of September and October.
Enter to win a pair of tickets to Gem of the Ocean.
A Q&A will immediately follow the screening with star Reneé Zellweger.
The latest salvo is California’s long-running water wars has the potential to emerge as one of the most important pieces of water regulation in recent years.
- 1 of 202
- next ›
From the typeface of “The Godfather” book cover to the Noguchi table, the influence of Japanese American artists and designers in postwar American art and design is unparalleled. Learn how the World War II incarceration affected their lives and creations.
"Artbound" looks at the dinnerware of Heath Ceramics and a design that has stood the test of time since the company began in the late 1940’s.
Inspired by Oaxacan traditions, Dia de Los Muertos was brought to L.A. in the '70s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity. It has since grown in proportions and is celebrated around the world.
Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time defined by political movements across the country.
A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch.
- 1 of 11
- next ›