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Theoretical Papers

Vol. 3 No. 1 (2018): Crossing Borders, Shifting Boundaries: Image, Body and Territory

A Vernacular of Generic Growth




Studying a series of photographs taken by Gavin Brown in Houston, Texas, I argue that Brown sets up a provocative feedback loop between content and composition that offers a new way of seeing our generic built environment. In his images of fragments of cars, strip-mall ceilings, and new constructions, Brown uses various techniques to separate the object from its context and meaning, isolating one of the city’s foundational tenets to show us a vernacular of economic growth itself. While a vernacular is typically tied to a place, this vernacular is tied to a state of mind.