During the summer of 2019, I attended county fairs in Northern California, from Marin to Santa Cruz, and just for fun made long exposures of rides in motion. While fairgoers screamed at every twist and turn, holding on for dear life, I stood silent behind my tripod, photographing the blurs of color and patterns of light. At first, I made wide shots to juxtapose the rides’ soaring, plunging, and spinning movements with the stillness of the fairgrounds. As I became familiar with the rides, I zoomed in, as if freeing the gravity-defying amusements from the Earth, and the photographs turned abstract, even astronomical. With this shift in focus, I transformed the midway into my own Milky Way.
Arthur Drooker is the author and photographer of American Ruins (2007, Merrell), Lost Worlds (ACC, 2011), Pie Town Revisited (2015, UNM Press), and Conventional Wisdom (Glitterati, 2016). He just completed Cosmic Carnival, a self-published monograph. His next book, City Hall, will be published by Schiffer in 2020.