Miller Farmstead is an old Appalachian farm-turned-museum that is now part of a state park in eastern Tennessee, in the mountains on the border with North Carolina. The museum preserves a house and farm just as it was in the 1960s, a successful subsistence farm of southern Appalachia. The house-museum has an unreal sense to it-almost as if the owners had just walked out the door, leaving the home unlocked. When I visited it, visitors were free to wander anywhere in the building, pick up artifacts, rummage through drawers and in closets. The museum offered little in the way of contextualizing material or exhibition contexts-the remains of these lives are evident only through these remnants.
Photographs seem immediately nostalgic, being so descriptively attached to one precise moment that they evoke the past compellingly. The nostalgia evoked by a photograph has a tricky relationship with truth, drawing more on the viewer's knowledge and experiences than any objective reportage. I was keenly aware that as I took these pictures, I was carefully selecting things that fit within my own biases and preconceptions about this place and these lives. As I was designing the book, I was interested in how a graphic translation that broke down the illusions created in the printing process would erode the reading of the images.
The truth of photography is a well-understood fiction, and nostalgia is a dangerous feeling. And the idea that an image could represent something real, the idea that something is verifiable, seems like a quaint notion now.