Jay Muhlin


Passerby consists of images made while traveling at 55mph or faster in an eighteen-wheel truck. Over the course of driving hundreds of miles through the American West, I amassed a collection of over twenty thousand photographs. I am editing these images into different formal presentations; a cinematic three channel video installation slide show, a single channel version with narrower visual themes, a photographic book of about 100 images, and a smaller book of images paired with drawings.

The photographs from Passerby conjoin the voyeuristic act of seeing and photography’s ability to render a subject’s image in the landscape at high speeds. Navigating the Western landscape through the myopic view from the window, distance and time collapse and become intertwined within the shifting landscape. Landmarks become obscure and passer-bys are barely noticed. A decaying sense of the local is further broken down by the homogeneity brought on by road culture, erasing the specificity of place. Our collective mythology of the American road trip creates an unrealistic image of America. Making the images involved a process of active looking and confronting the dislocation from the place that is part of the traveler’s experience. Compounded by moving at high speeds, the photographs are removed from the initial experience and context of seeing through human vision. Passerby is a meditation on seeing the American West.