J. Scott Smith
29 Palms



29 Palms is a mirage of sorts, a photographic re-imagining of the original oasis of twenty-nine native palms around which the desert city of the same name developed. Washingtonia filifera, the Golden State’s only indigenous palm, is featured in this collection alongside a remarkable variety of geographic transplants that flourish in Southern California’s benign climate. Captured with a large format view camera on 8 x 10” film and rendered in high-resolution 38 x 60” chromogenic prints, the 29 Palms series is both a typological study of individual palm trunks and a shimmering reflection of the region’s ethnically diverse human population.

2. Howea forsteriana 2. Howea forsteriana 2. Howea forsteriana 2. Howea forsteriana 2. Howea forsteriana
Sentry Palm Ivovowo Palm Zombie Palm California Fan Palm I King Palm I

"Of all land plants, the palm is one of the most distinguished. A columnar stem crowned with giant leaves is the perfect idea, popular or philosophic, of what a plant should be. It suffers no attrition through ramification. In all the warmer parts of the earth this form stamps itself in grand simplicity on the landscape. It manifests itself in more than two thousand species and several hundred genera, every one restricted more or less by climate, terrain, and geographical history. The present distribution of palms resembles an immense chessboard on which we see the last moves of a great game of life. Kings and queens are Malaysian and Amazonian. The major pieces have moved into America, Africa, and Asia, and the pawns have reached the islands. We do not know when the game began or whence it was derived. All we can say is that the palms are as old, if not older than any other form of flowering plant and that they have endured while the rest have pressed forward into modern trees, climbers, herbs, and grasses, ramified, extended, twisted, and simplified. We find palms in the meadows, steppes and deserts, on the mountains, and all through the tropical and subtropical forests. Whether surrounded by grass-blades, towering trunks, or tree-ferns they maintain their rigid character as if this great family had been pitched, as a block of special creation, into the Mesozoic world, and around, through, and over it the subsequent streams of life had flowed. The palm is an evolutionary challenge, primitive, standardized, and viable."

from 'Natural History of Palms' by E.J.H. Corner