I was down at the LA Courthouse with an army of other photographers wondering why I was taking the same uninspired pictures as everyone else. What really interested me were the views of bystanders; after all, everyone had an opinion about O.J. – and I saw a means of creating a platform for this chorus of voices rising up from every corner of the city.
In a flash, I pictured myself interviewing people from all over LA, writing their opinions on sign boards and photographing them having their say. Armed with permanent markers and whiteboard, I criss-crossed the city, visiting barber shops and boxing gyms, a bowling alley and an arcade. I stopped at a Gurdwara in North Hollywood and plied a group of Punjabi Sikhs hesitant to speak out. I joined a Pentecostal service in Panorama City and elicited the views of worshippers. I went out to Catalina and stopped a pair of snorkelers as they emerged from the surf. I talked to an ice-cream vendor and a dressmaker, MTA workers and sailors and miniature golfers. I could go anywhere and people from all walks of life were ready to sound off. This was democracy in action. Looking back at my first “sign series” I see the form as a pre-curser to twitter and instagram – my crude but immediate social media platform that sought inclusion, enviting disparate voices to be heard and felt.