No Man's Land

Forward created by request for Photographer James Bannister's photoessay: The Road Not Taken 
Image: Book cover designed by James Bannister

The Road Not Taken

Youth is synonymous with wanderlust. Endless searching. Not endless in the sense that it lasts forever, but end-less in that it requires no reason, no justification. The search has no end in mind and is therefore limitless.

The Road To Nowhere is a photographical manifestation of wandering without a destination. Although the age of the photographer is a catalyst for such exploration, the series itself is ageless. Transcending existing differences in age, upbringing or lifestyle that could create division, James shares common ground with his subjects; an appreciation of solitude and the peace that derives from existing off the grid. The resulting images juxtapose a youthful desire to discover a land of fantasy with a realistic representation of what actually exists; a hybrid of the expected and the bizarre.

Although RTN denotes the A30 as a metaphorical thread that runs through the project, the road itself does not appear in the series; it's significance subtly enhanced by it's physical absence. Similarly, there are some images that convey the absence of an individual only via traces that adhere to their ubiquity. Throughout the series these traces are interjected by sporadic portraits, a reminder of the individuals responsible for them.

The method of shooting large format directly reflects the inquisitive nature of the photographer. James mentioned once that the world looked better through the glass plate of a 5x4 viewfinder, indicating the appeal of a world not usually seen; one that is upside-down and back to front. This remark alludes not only to the world that becomes visible through the photographer's lens, but also to a real world that is shown in this project alongside the lives so often hidden from view.

The locations of the images maintain a certain quietude, one that opposes the busy road needed in order to reach them. But contradiction in itself is the root of RTN - the road continues and yet leads to nothing, the people exist but are not really present, the land is used but seemingly empty... and one gets the impression that those involved are content with said ambiguity; the perpetual companion for the wandering disposition, young or old.