Purple Time Space Swamp's Creator Captures a Unique Photographic Vision of Houston

Recently, I happened upon an interesting photo blog with the odd name of "Purple Time Space Swamp," and I was immediately drawn in. The photos are of Houston, but the photographer captures a vision of this city that is unique and that other people might pass over or in some cases consider unsightly. Abandoned gas stations, rundown storefronts and concrete expanses create urban landscapes that we all interact with living in Houston, but mostly ignore or consider to be a form of blight that must be endured but certainly not enjoyed.

However, the photos in Purple Time Space Swamp command the viewer to look at these scenes in a different way, and I found them to exude a certain strange beauty. The blog is mysterious, leaving the viewer to form his or her mind about the photos, without offering any commentary other than the pictures themselves. At the top of Purple Time Space Swamp is a mission statement of a sort. Three sentences that read:

"This is a visual archive of Houston for public use. All images are by the author of the blog. Copyright will not be enforced."

Beneath that is a link that says, "Ask me anything."

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And ask I did. I got a response from a friendly gentleman named Sebastien Boncy, who was kind enough to talk a little bit about his work and the motivations behind it.

Boncy says that he's lived in Houston for about 20 years but is originally from Haiti. Asked if he feels that gives him a perspective on Houston that's different from a native's, he says, "You know, it's a weird thing. When you're an immigrant long enough, you don't quite belong to either world. It's definitely going to color how I see things, but I don't know what the ratios are. I don't know how much of this is coming from the Haitian in me, and how much of this is everything I've learned to be and love from being here so long, which is pretty much my whole adult life."

Boncy's background in photography is lengthy and involved, as he explains.

"I have two degrees in photography, one from the University of Houston, and one from the University of North Texas, and so this is something I'm all in. Most of my income comes from teaching photo classes around the city, and it's what I've been doing since around '98."

When asked about the types of images he chooses to capture, Boncy says, "I'm a big fan of the city, and I choose to stay here. Even when I was getting my grad degree, I knew every single day that I was coming back to Houston. Basically, you don't exist unless you're imaged, and people have ideas about Texas, and about Houston, but they don't really know because we're not imaged."

According to Boncy, Houston is different because it hasn't been extensively documented like other big cities.

"You know, the great cities have been imaged powerfully, places like Paris has had Versailles, and New York has had Friedlander, and the West Coast has had people like Henry Wessel. So these places are allowed to exist in the imagination in a very rich way because they're imaged. So I just wanted the opportunity for Houston to have that. I'm here now and making these photographs now, so they are very current, but maybe with an eye towards the possibility of Houston existing in the vernacular imagination in a more interesting way."

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