The dreamlike quality of Todd Hido’s photographs might best be summed up by a remark the artist Leili Towfigh once wrote on her blog: "Hido’s photographs do something to me. Like he remembers my memories, except he hasn’t met me, and I haven’t met him.”
Nowhere is this illusory effect more clearly realized than in Hido’s book, “Excerpts From Silver Meadows,” a series he shot in the part of Kent, Ohio, where the renowned photographer grew up. Hido had long made a habit of taking pictures when he was home for the holidays, but much of this particular undertaking was the result of a grant from the Bidwell Foundation, a local organization that sponsors artistic projects in the area. Hido’s body of work was the group’s inaugural exhibition. The assignment? To capture the suburban environment he knew so well, and the rural farmlands that surround it. “They paid me to go home and make pictures,” Hido says. “My eyes became wide open, and I was able to get out of my get-it-done mode and into my creativity mode. It was a blessing.”
The series turned into a study of the quality of light during wintertime in the Midwest. “There were many nice days spent in the car, exploring the locations of my past, driving around where I grew up, retracing steps, retracing the places where I used to ride my bike.” Hido found himself drawn to the farmlands, as he often was as a kid. “What one would do, if one was not necessarily down with suburbia, was to go out into the country,” he says. “When you’re not getting the return you’re looking for with people, the landscape is always there.”
From the point of view of his car, Hido noticed, the landscape looked different — the images took on a cocoon-like, foggy feeling — and he found this was due to a certain visual effect provided by the windshield. “There is a real sense of a partial frame,” he says of the windshield-as-lens. “It fluctuates in a dreamy kind of way. Parts are in focus, parts aren’t. Parts are crystal clear, parts are hazy. It’s just like memory.”
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