Rob O'Neil | photographs
extraordinarily commonplace This project is a photographic exploration of the town of DeSoto, Illinois between 1996 and 1998. It was the culmination of my Masters of Fine Art in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. What exists in DeSoto is an ordinariness that small towns contain. This ordinariness might be referred to as boring, common or even banal, but within this simple exterior lies something wonderfully exotic, layered and full of beauty. DeSoto has an individuality that makes it extraordinary. DeSoto has very few distinguishing characteristics; it is nothing more than another intersection as you drive north on Illinois State Route 51. It has two gas stations, a bank, a motel and a post office on the main strip - businesses or places that are not out of the ordinary in southern Illinois. The attraction of a town with little differentiating subjects had an almost immediate effect on me. Historically, photography seeks out the extraordinary and makes it the subject; I have always been much more interested in the sublime and the subtle. The photographers after the Civil War gave us views of our establishing nation’s glorious landscape to promote our expansion westward; nature photographers show us an unspoiled beauty; and Ansel Adams chose the monumental and the glorious to be fashioned into photographs. We are bombarded by images everyday, in the form of advertising and magazines, on television, internet, and posters. I think we as a society have become somewhat immune to an image just for that image’s sake. I chose to concern myself with a much simpler landscape.