In Phil Jung’s first monograph, Windscreen, we are positioned to peer through the windows of American cars that have seen better days. Captured on city streets, existing in a space somewhere between public and private, these car interiors are often found decrepit and empty, however each one comes alive through its inanimate details, the idiosyncratic marks of past and present owners, revealing a series of portraits without subjects.
Items both mundane and peculiar –– empty packs of Carlton cigarettes, the shattered frame of a digital Van Gogh, a Ouija board planchette –– trace the outlines of lives lived but not seen. Scum, frost, and dead insects, appearing like beautiful color field abstractions, at times prevent us from seeing inside, and then the sudden presence of a disembodied hand makes us wonder if we should be looking at all.
Shot on Kodak 4 x 5 sheet film and printed with stunning articulation, Jung’s work, in its powerful use of color and composition, stands as an achievement of photographic formalism. But most striking is Jung’s deft and poetic evocation of the American social landscape told through renderings of automotive decay.