Layers: Photographs from Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley


During a dinner party conversation in my parents’ dining room in about 1969, a composer friend described a fantasy recording instrument sensitive enough to read the sounds etched into the walls by the impact of sound waves. That possibility of being able to listen to the history of a place--playing back an echo of the past--has resonated in my work and the way I think about photographs. I imagine that photographs provide proof of a moment in time but also, by inference, evidence that all other moments also exist.

The images from my ‘Layers’ project are collaborations. With this group of works most of the creative decisions that normally belong to the artist/photographer (subject, point of view, light, camera, time) were made for me decades and, in many cases, more than a century ago. I am simply, miraculously, revisiting moments in time, trying to share an experience with men and women that I'll never meet.

When I am making my version of the photographs, I try to imagine what it would have been like to be there when the original photograph was taken: what the weather was like, what sounds were in the air, what day it was, and what world events were shaping life in this small corner of California.

I'd like to give special thanks to the Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley Historical Societies, the Lompoc Museum, and Curt Cragg for their generosity in loaning me photographs from their archives. I hope that these layered images, and the stories behind them, will give pause and perhaps enrich our understanding of local history.


Kam Jacoby
May, 2008