A similar temporal register—which could be described as the “anterior present,” or perhaps “ghost time”—can be found in “LAX NAZ,” a series of photographs made in and around the empty houses of a suburban neighborhood next to the Los Angeles International Airport that was purchased by the state of California and slated for demolition in order to create a Noise Abatement Zone (NAZ) around the airport’s new runways. Many of these houses, which Divola photographed with a sculptor’s eye for spatial relationships and minimalist forms that recalls another of his photographic contemporaries, Lewis Baltz, fell victim to break-ins. Divola assiduously documented the details of these forced entries: boards wrenched off windows, glass panes shattered, walls sullied by teenagers’ graffiti extolling the virtues of marijuana and Pink Floyd (presumably in combination). But, like the vandalism Divola perpetrated in his previous series, these acts of violence and destructive effort exist in Divola’s photographs only as traces—evidence of the act, but not the act itself. Of course, in addition to these traces of the past, the houses Divola photographed for “LAX NAZ” were also indelibly inscribed with their future destruction, which renders their ghostly aspect somewhat Janus-faced: hollowed out remainders of their past incarnations, the houses have also already vanished. This same double-sided vanishing act is characteristic of the derelict beach house that Divola took as the subject of his most well-known series, “Zuma” (1977). Initially discovered while he and a friend were jogging on the titular beach in Malibu, California, Divola spent a year documenting the house as it suffered the vicissitudes of neglect (teenagers’ parties, conventions of the homeless and destitute, acts of petty vandalism, and at least one indoor bonfire that got slightly out of hand), and simultaneously intervened with his own spray-painted embellishments, until the house was wiped away in a fire. In some ways, these photographs could be seen as a synthesis of Divola’s two previous series, the painterly acts of vandalism comingling with the inexorable march of entropy on view in “LAX NAZ.” But in “Zuma” the marriage of Divola’s previous strategies actually results in something that is greater than the sum of its parts. First of all, by expanding his interventions into the realm of time and allowing himself to become enmeshed with the fate of the space as it decays, Divola renders his presence even more specter-like. His photographs becoming snapshots of the process of his own acts of haunting—a state of affairs that Divola occasionally literalizes through the flash-frozen intrusions of books and magazines that appear to float in midair as if of their own accord, levitating in the space like mysterious, mangy birds. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in terms of the series’ relationship to Divola’s conception of photography, in “Zuma” the act of photographing becomes an attempt to delineate the contours of a system in a continual state of flux. Of course, it is somewhat vain to undertake this project using photography—as fragments of the past that have been wrenched from the flow of time, the photographs can provide only the past’s semblance, its ghost.