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ten convenient stores

Over the past year, I have combed the streets looking for convenience stores with common architectural details. This project is a collection of images produced in a limited number in conjunction with 20"x30" prints taken in Miami, Florida in 2004. In these images, I am concerned with the consumer culture of immediacy, 24-hour availability, information overload, and the loss of local identity.

Most convenience stores are built with common architectural details. They cater to car culture by placing their parking in front and pushing the entrance off the street. This allows cars easy access but becomes a hassle for pedestrians. The stores' similarities are not concentrated across a brand, but an entire industry. This formula is a sad fact of living in cities where cars have become the only viable form of transportation. Their cookie cutter architecture has contributed to a loss of local identity and the homogenization of the American city.

The photos were all shot after midnight with a 4"x5" view camera in a straight-on objective style. Shooting these stores in the same straight-ahead angle highlights the differences in each product display and the unique advertisements of each store. I use a view camera because it provides ultra-sharp detail and helps create a window into each scene. By using a large format camera, the scene contains vastly more detail than the human eye can digest at once. Thus, it is the ideal way to document the information overload of the Miami–Dade County landscape.

harlan k. erskine   www.harlanerskine.com