Most of Ed Ruscha’s photographic studies can be seen in his many books. Many of these books are studies of Los Angeles and its crazy architecture and oddity, which is a subject that he’s always been interested in. Some notable books are his popular Some Los Angeles Apartments and the more coveted (and rare) Every Building On The Sunset Strip, both of which sought out to do exactly what their titles suggest. The latter of the books, the Sunset gazing one, is particularly interesting because it obviously caught the city in a very special time and functioned as a photographic time capsule. He actually did the same thing on Hollywood Blvd too, which is now making its way online thanks to Getty Research: they’ve taken photos Ruscha took in 1973 and 2002 of Hollywood Blvd and placed it in video form for everyone to see it. Because LA folk love seeing how LA once looked, you will want to see this. It’s pretty crazy.
The video simply and silently scrolls through the popular street, comparing the buildings then and now. Many have the same form and are with minor changes while some have gotten wild makeovers you’ll kick the wall over. There are some mysterious things (Why was the Egyptian Theatre hidden in the seventies?) and some obvious things (The space by LACE has always been artsy.) and some wild things (That sexy lady clothes shop at Wilcox used to be…a See’s Candies!!) but they both showcase an area that is constantly changing. While the 1970s photographs may be what you think will be the most interesting, the 2002 photos are actually more grabbing because the strip has changed so much in a short eleven years. It doesn’t seem as shitty or gross and, really, could be the start of the current state Hollywood Blvd is attempting an exit from. Who knows: this is all based on watching the video.
The video was made as a part of Pacific Standard Time’s Overdrive exhibit and has been placed in the Streets of Los Angeles Archive at The Getty. Who knew that was a thing?! That’s great. Ruscha needs to revisit this project in another twenty years to attempt a triple reflection of the area that spans over sixty years. That’d be wild. You can catch the video below and you can see Overdrive at The Getty through July 21.