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Meanwhile, onlookers

Meanwhile
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I got drawn into deltiologist James Brouwer’s enormous postcard collection after watching Vox’s short film on his discovery that many of them feature the exact same sky. Delving further into his flickr albums, I found myself mesmerised by this set that identifies another midcentury trend, simply titled Onlooker Postcards. Individually, the cards are unremarkable – just perfectly pleasant photos of lakes, mountains, forests, with the addition of a token onlooker taking in the scene. But gathered together, there’s something rather eery about them. With characters dressed in Don’t Look Now-evoking bright red, passively absorbing the environment with their backs to the camera, they’re like screenshots from some unsettlingly placid video game – imagine Daphne du Maurier’s Red Dead Vacation. An uncanny narrative conjured by repetition and the hand of the collector.

Old Mission Light House, Michigan
Old Mission Light House, Michigan
Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Mt. McKinley, Alaska
Mt. McKinley, Alaska
Muir Woods National Monument, California
Muir Woods National Monument, California
Hawk‘s Bill, North Carolina
Hawk‘s Bill, North Carolina
Cabin Interior, Lost River State Park, West Virginia
Cabin Interior, Lost River State Park, West Virginia
Lake George Near Bolton Landing
Lake George Near Bolton Landing
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho
Whitehorse Road, Yukon Territory
Whitehorse Road, Yukon Territory
Inside The Crown, Statue Of Liberty, New York
Inside The Crown, Statue Of Liberty, New York
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
The Bluffs at Highland Light
The Bluffs at Highland Light
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A newsletter about art and design from the desk of Daniel Benneworth-Gray.

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