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David Hockney's "Pearblossom Hwy"

The artist David Hockney called his photo collages, “drawing with a camera.” Here he discusses perspective and other issues in Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2. Created by Getty Museum.

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Video transcript

- Originally it was meant to illustrate a story for Vanity Fair about Humbert Humbert looking for Lolita, and it was about driving 'round the Southwest and kind of, what he called "the monotony of the road". I'd agreed to do it, and we came looking for a location as it were, to do a road like this. We needed a side road because I knew how complex it would be to do it. And we eventually found this, and I realized the signs were good, the highway sign. That there were one, two, three, four signs quite close to each other actually then. I think it was 10 days shooting the pictures. There's about 800 i think on it. In the end the whole scheme, I conceived it much too big. I'd just gone off on another area really, and I didn't mind when they said they wouldn't use it. I thought, "Well, I've got something quite terrific "out of it, so I don't mind". Although it looks as though it is a central viewpoint, the perspective does look traditional, not one photograph is taken from that central viewpoint. They're all taken from all over. And, you're looking down on the road, you're looking up, you're looking every direction. I think I probably began with the stop sign, meaning I'm up a ladder and I'm photographing very close to it. Every photograph here is taken close to something, which is why you the viewer feel involved in it and feel close to it, that's what does it. You can see the cracks in the enamel. You are actually, literally close to everything. You're moving around in it. But, I mean, I was aware that cameras do push you away. I was trying to pull you in. My photographic friend said it was a painting and I said it was photography. In a sense, one did paint the sky, because you could decide on blues. I would photograph the actual sky, but of course in printing it can be done lighter, darker, so in a way I was making a choice of blue, and in a way that's like a painter, not like a photographer. I think the sky is made up of perhaps 200 separate pieces. In that sense I'll admit, I made choices. As you will now notice here, I moved the trees from up there, I could move things around. When I first did collages I called it "drawing with a camera", I felt that's what you were doing. Like in drawing, you make choices. We don't all see the same things. We don't all hear the same things either. That's what artists tell us, or that's what I keep trying to do anyway.