Research

  • The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

    Photo Stacey Rain Strickler, Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Ed Ruscha Streets of Los Angeles Project 

Francesca Russello Ammon, an assistant professor of city and regional planning and historic preservation, is helping to analyze the vast body of photographic work by legendary Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha for the Getty Research Institute (GRI).

Since 1965, Ed Ruscha has led an ambitious, systematic effort to photograph the streets of Los Angeles. The Streets of Los Angeles collection contains more than a half million images, including negatives, digital files, contact sheets, notes, and the complete production archive of Ruscha’s seminal artist book Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966).Tracking distinctive elements of the Los Angeles cityscape, the project spans five decades and records major streets, such as Hollywood Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Sunset Boulevard.

Ammon is a member of one of four research teams made up of scholars in the digital humanities, cultural geography, art history, urban history, photography, and visual culture who wereselected from a competitive proposal process to contribute to the digitization and online exhibition of the Streets of Los Angeles.The teams are receiving advance access to the digitized archive as well as facilitated access to metadata, including geographic information system (GIS) information. Ammon’s team is working on Ed Ruscha’s Street-Level View and the Postwar Redevelopment Vernacular, and they’ll be gathering at the GRI in mid-January 2019 for their first research workshop. Their work will inform her Spring 2019 seminar HSPV 638/CPLN 687: Photography and the City.

With the input of the invited research teams, the Getty Research Institute expects to make the Streets of Los Angeles archive accessible online in 2020 through an innovative application that will make 130,000 digitized images navigable via keyword, geographic coordinates, and possibly additional attributes such as building type or optically-recognized text that appears in the signage in the photographs. 

“Ruscha’s vast photographic archive opens up new possibilities not only for art history and the history of photography but for architecture and urban planning, cinema and cultural geography,” says Andrew Perchuk, acting director of the Getty Research Institute.

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. 

Read more about the project and view Ruscha’s work at getty.edu.

Team

Francesca Russello Ammon, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation