Time Machine Web Space: ‘The 50 States Project’

While timing is usually everything, some things grow more relevant after the fact; especially in our digital age when fragments of old content still exist in the unremembered – or untouched – spaces of the web.

In the early 2000’s with the emergence of the ‘online’ as a powerful platform for communication, the web saw a greater amount of art crowdsource projects than ever before. Websites such as Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More and Thing A Day come to mind, and, while no longer active, still live online as the dried up shelves of the someone or something that’s moved on.

It in this style that I came across The 50 States Project, an online participatory art project that ran from 2008-2009, connecting photographers across the country with other artists from neighboring states, in a very collaborative way. The goal of the site was to capture life in 50 American states by a native photographer from each state. For the year, photographers would respond to a series of uniform assignments, designed to highlight the differences and, ultimately, similarities of each person’s home.

These assignments ranged from “People” to “Habitat,” and even “Environment,” and, while perhaps taken directly out of a High School Photograph I, resulted in a fascinating anthropologic and documentary web of up-until-then-unconnected pieces, suspended in a national chain.

The 50 States Project is over but their images, though fuzzy in the rear view mirror, are definitely still there.

Photo by Christopher Wurzbach

About the Author: Fernando Bendana