Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.
In this work, the photographer presciently foreshadows the essential dialectic that was to become the touchstone of the nineteen sixties. The polarities of the cultural rift that was to come is limned by the stark juxtaposition of iconic figures: one, a near-Kerouacian embodiment of the rejection of middle-class bourgeois values and mores, confronts his antithetical archetype, himself a veritable paradigm of conventional managerial-class affectations. Note also the seemingly aleatory disposition of deceptively mundane objects: the "bullet" lamps, an allusion to the violence intrinsic to the enforcement of conformist societal imperatives; the desk with no legs, an unconscious admission of the illusory foundations of work-ethic mythologies. Most tellingly, a copy of the Declaration of Independence is inexorably detaching itself from the wall, an ironic metaphor for the impermanence of superficial obeisance to culturally-imposed eschatology.
Back here on planet Earth, I'll point out that this is my brother visiting his college friend Bob in his room at the Blue Rock Apartments in Larkspur, California. The misè-en-scene was captured by me with my then-new Kodak Starmite. The negative is gone, and all that's left is this Scotch-taped print. View full size.