When we hear of the American West, we immediately associate it with its landscapes and distinct culture. Portland-based Brendon Burton, however, explores what he considers as the “New American West” with a recent series of cinematic conceptual work called Western Gothic.
According to Brandon, his work is focused on “studying the side effects of cultural isolation and the concept of liminal space.” Part of this is a fascination for vacant and decaying places which was sparked by his childhood on a farm in an isolated community, For the curious, liminal space is, in the simplest sense, a place of transition and where waiting often takes place. Western Gothic is indeed teeming with these elements, both in the setting and the visual narrative housed by each photo.
Set against either a dreamy landscape, a man-made structure, or an eerie abandoned space, the series shows Brendon’s characters seemingly at the cusp of something; waiting for something to unfold, someone to arrive, at the threshold of carrying out an action, or for the day to end. The result is a cinematic collection of fine art photography which Brendon seemingly captured as he himself lay waiting as a spectator.
Each photo is a testament to the vision, preparation, and imagination involved to get the series’ story across. Brendon achieved the cinematic mood mostly through the atmosphere of his chosen locations, primarily outdoor spots with abandoned houses or buildings, open spaces with quirky elements, and the breath-taking expanse of natural landscapes. His ability to spin a narrative around such locations is what I consider to be his strength as a fine art photographer.