PhotoBiography: Troy Paiva

PhotoBiography: Troy Paiva
International Photography Grant 2019

My light-painted nightwork captures the abandoned and discarded underbelly of the American West. I sneak through fences during the full moon to capture the inevitable march of nature, scrappers and developers, who conspire to erase the fading memories of all these things we once held so dear. I convert these dark, dirty, places no one wants into surreal, glittering wonderlands, colorful, ghostly echoes of what once was.

I’ve been using light painted, full moon-lit night photography to capture the abandoned American West for 25 years. Telling the story of the ghosts of America’s Western Expansion, from a post-wild west, post-Route 66, 21st Century perspective has become a never-ending source of inspiration. My documentarian, yet surrealist–sometimes playful, sometimes haunting work examines the final days of decommissioned military bases, NASA installations, derelict ocean liners, airliner boneyards, Hollywood prop graveyards and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of abandoned amusement parks, train stations, factories, hospitals, gas stations, hotels, even entire towns–and the intensely exhilarating, yet strangely comforting act of sneaking around in the middle of the night, creating art from their ruins.

I only shoot at night, by the light of the full moon, using minutes-long exposures to capture the palpable passage of time onto a single frame. I augment the scene with hand-held light–frequently colored–during the exposure, treating the site like a dark stage set, using theatrical and cinematic techniques to manage the composition, create mood, and lead the viewer’s eye. It’s about tightly controlling the scene, even though the scene itself is wildly entropic and out of control.

Website: lostamerica.com

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International Photography Grant 2019