For his latest project, Glasgow-based photographer Calum Douglas took a three-week road trip around the south eastern states of North America to “explore the scientific and supernatural subcultures that exist in the region.” Capturing the environment through the people who make up these offbeat communities, Calum’s series is a charming, if a little bizarre, insight into this part of the country.
The series is called Where is Everyone?, and takes its name from a quote by Enrico Fermi, a physicist well-known for the Fermi Paradox theory, which looks at the statistical likelihood of intelligent life existing within our universe. During his trip Calum visited meeting places for UFO hunters and areas of paranormal activity as well as space centres and museums. A part of Calum aimed not to plan his trip too much, and let the series take shape naturally. “I had certain sites in mind to visit like the White Sands Missile Museum and the Famous Black Mailbox (which I was sad to find had been stolen), but I wanted to leave the rest to chance,” he says.
“The series is not just concerned with the supernatural, it also looks at the scientific community of the area and I liked the overarching theme of humanity looking to the sky for answers,” he explains. “I was mainly concerned with the stories of individuals, finding out how they have come to hold the beliefs they have and understanding their way of life. I feel it is important to stress how much respect I have for these individuals and their hopeful search for answers.”
As well as the remote destinations Calum visited, the focus in the series seems to be on the characters he met along the way: “I met some incredible people, from a rocket engineer to a psychic and everyone in between. I was travelling alone for three weeks and I was so fortunate to meet so many open and friendly people from all kinds of backgrounds. The most fascinating person I met was a paramedic, a chance encounter that led to a three-hour conversation covering everything from religion to parallel universes.”
Aesthetically Calum was inspired by classic science fiction films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and David Lynch’s take on the sci-fi novel Dune. “I had initially planned to shoot mainly at nighttime using flash photography,” he says. “I didn’t expect the harsh desert daylight to work to my advantage, giving images a flash-like quality. The series I’ve ended up with is full of contrasts: day and night, contrasting textures, national parks and machinery.”
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