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Once upon a time I lived in a double-decker bus, reg. JRR 404, better known as the Free Photographic Omnibus. She was my home, my travelling darkroom and gallery. We were an unlikely couple; she with her crash gear box and temperamental ways, me with my bushy hair and homemade flares. But we got along okay and, during 1973 and '74, we travelled about making a national portrait of the English. We covered 10,000 miles shooting pictures and giving them away. The bus's glory days, taking holiday-makers on seaside runs to Skegness and Mablethorpe, were in the 1950s but, by the time I got to know her, she was 25 years old and (it has to be said) past her best. By comparison I -- fresh out of art school and all of four years her junior -- was just a whipper-snapper. Secret HistoryAmazingly JRR 404 is still with us. Thought to be the last remaining model of her class and type she has been acquired by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Trust (link opens in a new window) who have her on show in their museum at Wythall, UK, where she is listed as "exotica" under "other" and "rare". Much is made of her exceptional spec: her side gangways and front entrance, her air operated doors, her fluted mouldings and her illuminated signs. But there's no mention at all of her secret history, when she dropped out, did her own thing, experimented with alternative living and tried to change the world. You have to be on Photobus to learn about that. For this is where the adventure continues, our journey serving as an exemplar for a contemporary value system which embraces the expectation that we should all participate in the conversation that mass media is becoming. There's a lot about participatory media on Photobus and a lot more about the stories that live in photographs. So welcome aboard. Make a start by viewing our story The Bus.Polyfoto
r/t: 2 min, 23 sec.
About the England I come from, this story is currently screening at the exhibition YOU_ser: The Century of the Consumer
, at ZKM, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie
(link opens in a new window), Karlsruhe, Germany.
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