In Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road, his second book with The Ice Plant, Brooklyn-based photographer Tim Carpenter (born 1968) revisits the Central Illinois topography of his first monograph, Local Objects, with a sequence of 56 black-and-white, medium-format photographs, all made on a single winter morning. Where Local Objects meandered this semi-rural Midwestern landscape through changing seasons, detached from time, here Carpenter follows a straightforward path, literally taking the viewer on a chronological two-hour walk from point A to point B. Nothing much happens along this brief narrative arc—there are fallow fields, standing water, dormant trees, the occasional tire track on worn pavement—yet Carpenter explores the stillness of this outdoor space with an intensity of attention, a lightness of touch and a palpable, almost erotic longing, discovering complex subtleties at every turn.
While each picture records the seemingly random non-activity of a typical street view, Carpenter’s meticulous composition and contemplative sequencing creates a harmony of natural and geometric motifs running quietly throughout the book, an interplay of minor chords that draws the viewer into this specific physical place (mostly central Illinois, where Carpenter grew up). Detached from the urgency of current affairs, stripped of all excess, the photographs reflect a poetic attempt to see “the thing in itself,” to make meaning with the barest tools possible.