The American road culture includes not only the inevitable and distinctive vintage cars and truck transport (as documented alphabetically by Eric Tabuchi), but also vans which are regarded as conventional means of traveling the endless roads of the United States. The custom of travelling and living in vans has been characteristic of the American lifestyle in the last century, but today “rooms on wheels” are slowly dying out. American filmmaker and photographer Joe Stevens documents the last surviving prototypes of this charming American custom in his ongoing project “Vans and the places where they were“. In the past fifteen years, mainly in the west of the United States, Stevens has been using photo-recording to examine the dialogue on aesthetics of vans and the setting in which they were found. His long term work resulted in holdings of hundreds of photos shot with medium format film. Stevens indicates that over the years such vans have become a real rarity, and the reasons for this, besides technical deficiencies and outdated models, are a general change of taste and government initiatives that encourage more energy efficient means of transport. To record these interesting automobile classics he has been using analog photography, a medium which is, much like the aforementioned vans, gradually disappearing from use and being replaced by new state-of-the-art technology. As the author emphasizes, the final goal of this project is to record the last “living” van on the last existing roll of film in times to come.
For more information on the author and a more inclusive photo gallery of “Vans and places where they were” click here.