Thirty Six Views Of Mt. Lee and The Hollywood Sign
In the early 1800s Hokusai created “36 Views of Mount Fuji”, a series of woodblock prints of Mount Fuji, a powerful icon in Japan. The series depicts Mt. Fuji in different seasons and from many different vantage points and distances, in some prints Mt. Fuji dominates the scene and in some is a small part of the composition. Many of Hokusai’s prints juxtapose scenes of varied aspects of daily life with this powerful symbol. This power is derived not only from the graphic elements of Mt. Fuji’s physical presence but each viewer’s personal idea of what Mt. Fuji represents.
When photographing in the Los Angeles area I noticed that I was including the Hollywood Sign in images if it was in sight. When I thought about what attracted me to it I remembered Hokusai's series and how the power of his icon charged his prints.
For many the Hollywood Sign is instantly recognizable and that recognition locates an image in geography as well as implies some meaning based on the viewers assumptions of what Hollywood represents in the past and in the present. In his book “The Hollywood Sign” Leo Braudy writes, “But the Hollywood Sign still delivers, perhaps because it can be commandeered by everyone with a camera to mean what they want it to mean. Because it’s not a billboard, not flat, it’s shape is more elusive, with letters set at odd angles to each other. How you capture it in memory or on film is always a personal choice. For anyone climbing or driving the hills of Hollywood to seek the best road to the sign or the right angle on it, the sign situates you in your own experience. To photograph it or see it enhances your sense of self like seeing a movie star. Unlike fixed icons that may be viewed from different angles but don’t really change that much, the sign is a shifting icon whose viewers supply the context, framing themselves and the sign at once.”