Dice is a work from the series Midcentury Studio, in which Douglas emulates press photography from the 1940s that depict a world of urban pleasure and crime. Here, the imagined photographer captures a group of men gambling in a scene that appears to be illuminated by the photographer’s flash, an illusion that challenges the notion of the camera as the all-seeing and revealing.
Michigan Central Station is part of a larger photographic series, Detroit Photos, which includes images of houses, theaters, stadiums, offices, and other municipal structures. Continuing his fascination with failed modernist utopias, Douglas depicts Michigan Central Station as a monolithic, almost prison-like structure lording over a desolate landscape. Once the hub of industrial transportation, the station is now devoid of any human activity and lies fallow, surrounded by train-less tracks and vegetation-less ground.
Stan Douglas makes videos and photographs that draw on the legacy of modernism to explore the cultural, social, and political history of the twentieth century. This is evident in his reference to large-scale housing works and other public projects. It also surfaces, perhaps more unexpectedly, in his connections to that period’s cultural production, like the great “auteur” filmmakers and authors, whose grand and utopic artistic projects now seem impoverished.