"In the Direction of Travel" is an ongoing exploration of the way Chicago’s elevated (or “L”) trains navigate and influence the City’s disparate geographical and cultural landscape.  Working at night and using long exposures, the fast moving steel bodies of the train cars are nearly invisible to my camera.  Only a narrow trail of light emitted from the train’s external lighting and passenger compartment is recorded against a static landscape.  The aim of my technique is analogous to the manner in which a physician injects a tracer into a patient’s bloodstream to capture x-ray images of their circulatory system.  Just as the tracer provides a means for examining the patient’s otherwise invisible blood flow, my long exposures help reveal the 224 mile system of L tracks as a kind of circulatory system in its own right.  The narrow band of light in each image exposes the physical connection between the locations in the photos and represents the flow of people across the City.  I see these flows and connections as fundamentally democratic in nature.  For example, they reveal how the headquarters of a multinational corporation at the City’s center and a modest home in one of its working-class neighborhoods are both points along the same network, allowing a person to travel effortlessly between one and the other for just a few dollars.  Yet while the L’s infrastructure functions as a unifying force on the City’s geography, it’s important to recognize that the distances spanned by its rails may also serve as a barrier, reinforcing the various types of segregation that characterize many of its neighborhoods.  My project is an attempt to use this vast urban rail system as an alternate means of visualizing the City's discordant topography.  

Using Format