Think road trip and the sensory richness of childhood comes to mind: a rush of wind through an open window, the world whizzing by in a blur. It seems almost quaint, doesn’t it? Driving from west to east, America unfurling one mile at a time. But now, the journey itself has become inseparable from the photographing of it. With our ever-smaller devices, we record what we see, so that when we return home, we’ll remember what moved us, how free we felt.
Whether the snowcapped mountains of Colorado or a kitschy Elvis statue in Nashville, these fleeting images are infused with a sweet wistfulness for the past—a time of innocence, of slowness and ease. What would we do if we had nothing but hours to while away? The highway stretches in front of us; the country is revealed in all its minutiae. God, a wise man once said, is in the details.
The colors of memory itself are oversaturated just in the way of these photographs, captured using the vintage-inspired Hipstamatic iPhone app. But wait: Is this real nostalgia, or an ironic stance? After all, we’re seeing the country through the lens of an iPhone. Reto Caduff’s photographs look old but not old—the colors are brighter than any Kodachrome—so he seems to be rewriting history, complete with text-message-style captions. Nothing ever really looked this way—but perhaps we wish it did. With smart phones in hand, we can, and do, attempt to capture and communicate everything. Who knows what will matter to us later? Memory becomes bolder, sharper, edging its way into our present lives. This happened, we are reminded again. Once we were here. —Dani Shapiro