Travis Fox: Remains to be Seen

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 14, 2021

The noted video journalist and TV documentary maker Travis Fox was an early adopter of drone aerial photography, and has since gone on to teach City University of New York's  first drone journalism course at the CUNY Newmark Journalism School. His new book, Remains to be Seen (Daylight 2020) explores a disappearing but still tangible American landscape. Amid abandoned industrial sites, amusement parks, and shuttered Borscht Belt resorts of the Catskills, and California’s Salton Sea, are the new realities that have since emerged, such as Baltimore’s redlined minority communities now being cleared and San Francisco ‘s abandoned Candlestick Park baseball stadium. His photographs, while hauntingly beautiful, expose old and continuing social problems from institutionalized racism to environmental destruction.


In his Introduction to the book, Philip Kennicott writes.“Fox’s intuition, borne out in these images, is that to understand a society, you must look to its interstitial spaces — the shards of parking lots, strips of grass, empty concrete slabs, and patches of shoreline that no longer front bodies of water. ‘Remains to be Seen’ offers a taxonomy of these in-between places, the interface between the natural and the man-made world, the porous divide between the haves and the have-nots that cut through urban neighborhoods, and the temporal thresholds between various stages of wrack and ruin, from neglect to decay to collapse and finally, the last faint traces on the landscape, waiting for the archaeologist to rediscover them. Or for the drone, which finds things we cannot see.



“[He finds] patterns and sometimes beauty, and his process, he acknowledges, is also governed by serendipity. But there. is darker stuff here too. If we can chart the social history of the twentieth century in the overt subject matter—the worldly stuff we recognize in the images—we can see many of the signal moments in the history of twentieth- century art cast their shadow on the style and form of the images too. The Saint Peter and Paul Church spire recalls Moholy-Nagy’s 1928 photograph of the Berlin Radio Tower, which plunges to earth along a diagonal similar to the one Fox’s camera has captured. The ruins of thrill rides from the Geauga Lake amusement park in Ohio have the biomorphic forms of Jean Arp and Joan Miro. The demolition of a shopping mall in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, creates a rhythm of vertical lines—some clean and taut, others messy and smudged—that recall the vertical “zips” of Barnett Newman.…. Images from Owens Lake in California and from Youngstown, Ohio, resemble, in different ways, Andy Warhol’s urine-based oxidation paintings.”


The book is designed as an album, with full bleed images accompanied by captions on blank facing pages, and the occasional double spread. Captions are amplified in the back pages, accompanied by period postcards from old attractions. The book is in stores, and can be purchased directly from Daylight Books here

The exhibition, Travis Fox | Remains to be Seen, opens Saturday, April 17 at Wired Gallery, 11 Mohonk Road, High Falls, NY Info

Artist Talk with Travis Fox on Zoom, Sunday, April 25, 4-5PM, moderated by award-winning video producer, Susan Farkas. To register, please go to the Facebook Event Page.


Travis Fox is an award-winning television documentary maker. His work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, and The New York Times. He graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. From 1999 to 2009, he worked as a senior video journalist at The Washington Post and was widely recognized as a pioneer of news video on the web. He covered such major stories as the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. In 2006, he won an Emmy Award for web video coverage of Hurricane Katrina on Fox teaches broadcast and drone journalism at the Newmark J-School and multimedia filmmaking at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also trains journalists in video storytelling around the world.
Instagram @travisfox