KODAK Logo  Intro  1234567  Art CarsPhotography by Harrod Blank
Photo Van
Oh My Gawd
 Camera Van (L), Oh My Gawd (R)   Harrod Blank
Harrod Blank grew up in a forest. His best friends were chickens. Really. Then, at 17, Blank and his family moved to downtown Santa Cruz, California. Learning to deal with people was a real challenge, until deliverance presented itself -- as an all-white, 1965 Volkswagen beetle. To express his identity, Blank began spray-painting the car in fluorescent green, red, and gold. Then came a globe on the hood, a TV on the roof, and a Reggae-style rooster on the door. Moving parts sprouted everywhere. Before long, everyone noticed the kid with the "Art Car." Blank named the bug "Oh My God!" for the inevitable reaction it elicited.

Fast forward several years. Harrod Blank is now a photographer and filmmaker, criss-crossing the United States to cover the burgeoning Art Car scene. He attends major Art Car shows in Houston and San Francisco, and searches out kindred souls in odd spots. The results: an annual Art Car calendar; a related book and documentary film (both called Wild Wheels); and a new documentary entitled Driving the Dream, which made its debut on National Geographic Explorer. (Much of the accompanying caption material is adapted from his Wild Wheels book and Wheels of Dreams 1998 Calendar.)

Not surprisingly, Blank travels in style. As he tells it, "I had a dream one night that I covered a car in cameras and traveled around the country capturing people's faces." Upon awakening, he immediately began collecting obsolete cameras from friends, relatives, and local thrift shops. Using silicon caulk, screws, and rivets, Blank ultimately attached over 2,000 cameras to a venerable 1972 Dodge Van.

The vast majority of Instamatics, Super 8 movie cameras, and other plastic wonders covering this "Camera Van" are just for show. But hidden among them are several motorized, autofocus 35mm single-lens-reflex models, remote-controlled from the driver's seat. These cameras, hidden in plain sight, have enabled Blank to create a major collection of photos of startled onlookers. Their responses are extremely pleasing to the man who still loves to hear people say "Oh My God!"

Harrod Blank makes his documentaries on Kodak 16mm color-negative stock, including daylight-balanced EASTMAN 7245 EXR 50D. (his favorite, for its "fine grain and rich color"), and the tungsten-balanced EASTMAN 7248 EXR 100T and EASTMAN 7293 EXR 200T. For still photography, Blank uses a variety of 35mm and 120-size color-transparency films, including KODAK EKTACHROME 64 Professional Film. He can be contacted at excentrix@aol.com.

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