He anticipated Google Street View. In 1966, Ruscha mounted a camera with motor drive to the roof of his car, drove down Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and systematically photographed every building on both sides of the street in sequence. He published his findings as two facing strips of buildings carefully labeled with addresses for easy navigation.
He anticipated New Topographics. Ruscha's photographic style which came to maturity in the early-60s was a dry deadpan aesthetic cataloguing exteriors in the Western U.S. It wasn't until 1975 that New Topographics crystalized the style in a show, buzzword, and movement that continues to have reverberations in documentary photography today.
He anticipated today's photobook boom. Between 1962 and 1972 Ruscha self published 15 photography books, a rate of over one per year. This was four decades before Blurb.
He anticipated meta-photography. In 1967, Ruscha hired a professional photographer to shoot his Los Angeles parking lot project. Without picking up a camera, he made another person's photos his own through the power of production, editing, and publication. The examination and appropriation of outside work was explored by Heinecken and Sultan/Mandel, but it wasn't until the current era that it's really taken off with numerous Google Street View edits and other online photo mining. In the future no one will use a camera. We'll simply sift through what's already out there.
Photograph by Art Alanis / Ed Ruscha
He anticipated Los Angeles. Ruscha moved to LA in 1956. At the time it wasn't exactly the center of the art universe.