Bubble Gum Alley, a narrow brick walled walkway between two stores, connects a small street surface parking lot to Higuera, a San Luis Obispo one way downtown street. Gum on brick first appeared anonymously in the early 1960’s. After cleanup efforts proved futile, local youth openly stuck chewed works with varying skill on brick surface and in mortar seams. Eventually, from far and near, others came to press gum wads onto brick, in mortar seam or atop a previously pressed wad. Others stood for minutes chewing a variety of colorful and tasty choices in order to carefully form initials, a word or words or a shape. As an added accent, some used gum to anchor paper and other materials.
The alley has become a popular sight-seeing attraction. Visitors shudder in a hypochondriac germ jumping fear or shake disapproving heads or laugh or stand in awe contemplating possibilities.
In the winter of 2005, I began photographing various sections of the walls with a used small digital camera given to me by my bonus daughter, Amy Franceschini, a highly regarded multimedia and environmental artist. I continued capturing images, textures and letters over the next few months after delivering bagged micro-green sunflower sprouts and wheatgrass flats to our local customers. This series began my return to the camera after a thirty year hiatus, except for the documentation of the Chumash solstice sites I had recovered.
Chewed is a series of highly altered digital photographs carefully guided through digital programs, none of which are photoshop. The photo is meant to remain hidden below the surface much like the bricks under the gum. These are my first Photons. - karl kempton
CHEWED by karl kempton. visual poetry collection. avantacular press, 2012. 28 pages. $25.00, which includes shipping.