RIFT / FAULT
Rift/Fault is a study of the shifting land-based tectonic edges of the North American Continental Plate in California and Iceland. Rift refers to where the North American Plate meets the Eurasian Plate, along the Mid-Atlantic Rift in Iceland. Fault refers to the San Andreas Fault, where the North American and Pacific Plates meet. Tectonic plates slide along the mantle of our earth, underneath our oceans, our land, our homes. Tectonic plate edges are geologically active - they spread, move, erupt, and tremble. Their behavior is for the most part unpredictable, and wholly uncontainable. And while boundaries upon the land are often contested, politicized, and fought over, tectonic plate edges remain immune to any human efforts of control. In this series I looked for the visual traces (or not) of the tectonic plate edges upon the land, as well the structures and uses of the built landscape upon these edges. The pairing of images allows for a dialogue between the wild and the contained, the fertile and the barren, the geologic and the human. These dichotomies create a visual tension that questions the uneasy relationship between geologic force, and the limits of human intervention.
My images of CO2 science research and clean energy labs share an inescapable and dialectically opposed dialogue with earlier photographs of the carbon heavy industrial age, as seen in Lee Friedlander’s Factory Valleys, the industrial buildings and structures by Bernd and Hilla Becher, and the machinery of Albert Renger-Patzsch, among others. As the complex science of global warming is being distorted by reductionist politics in the USA, I hope that my work transcends the didacticism and polemics of the climate debate — to offer, as Lucy Lippard puts it, a “poignant metaphor” that reminds us of the profound existential reality at stake. Earth Research is a work in progress.
SURROUNDED EVERYWHERE BY THE SEA
Change and impermanence are the subject of my work. I photograph landscapes, civic structures and people on the cusp of change, evoking liminal moments expressed in artifact, symbolism and mood. I am currently working in Cuba where fitful change is omnipresent — yet tentative, fraught and uncertain.
Although I began photographing in Cuba more than a decade ago, this project originated the week President Obama and the Rolling Stones visited Havana in the spring of 2016. I witnessed the excitement of the presidential motorcade and thrill of the Rolling Stones playing in a country where their music had for so long been prohibited. Optimism and hope, and analogies to Woodstock (albeit a clean and sober one), were inescapable. Since then I have been back four times, felt the Cuban people’s enthusiasm grow, then begin to tire and wane, and, now, dissipate with the coming of another crackdown on American travel.
The narrative structure includes four distinct, interrelated frameworks: Hotel, Farmer, Monuments, and Cemetery. The perspective is subjective; the physical locations are rendered by distinct artifact, the individuals by intimate portrait.
TENUOUS LANDSCAPES: PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES
“They are mystical and strange, having a peculiar enveloping atmosphere of timelessness that is most poignantly felt when one transverses the dark maze in a boat. Under such conditions there is a feeling of vague uneasiness, even of slight depression, a sense that this will always be a wilderness capable of overwhelming the puny efforts of mankind by the sheer exuberance of its own life. Upon emerging from the confines of the Everglades there is a sense of escape, one breathes easier and once again can kid himself into thinking that he amounts to something. Later, in going back over the experiences the visitor will wish to return, the sense of bafflement will have been overshadowed by curiosity to see more of this strange tropical jungle. Hence the Everglades are not inspiring, they have about them a certain quality of making as deep an impression on human sensibilities as do the grand and awful silhouettes of the Rockies.”
Clifford, C. Presnall, Assistant Chief of the Wildlife Division, Department of the Interior
July 12, 1938
I read the Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and then the Watson Trilogy by Peter Matthiessen. One book led to another, and I began to imagine the visceral feel of the place, the humid touch of the air, the oppressive heat. I had seen the Everglades from the plane – a dark nothingness at night, and by day a flat, often wet, expanse of swampland, punctuated by agricultural fields and housing developments. I was curious to experience the natural landscape, of course, but I was even more interested in the determined efforts of engineers, over many years, to eliminate the swamp – to drain it for sugarcane fields and development profit. To me it was the dark heart of the state.
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
The Naugatuck River is 40 miles long, and carries the distinction of being the only river to begin and end within the state of Connecticut. It essentially parallels Route 8 for the duration of its length. The source is just north of Torrington, and it flows south, into the Housatonic River in Derby. During the 19th and 20th centuries the Naugatuck River Valley was highly regarded as a manufacturing center. I grew up in the town of Naugatuck, home to the United States Rubber Company, later renamed Uniroyal. The town is probably best known as being the birthplace of Naugahyde, but it is also where the Mounds bar was made, at Peter Paul. The Naugatuck Chemical Company, (later Uniroyal Chemical), also made it’s home along the River in Naugatuck. The company would discard noxious, neon-colored chemicals into the air and river. The water was lifeless, and the air, sharp and polluted. The town was scrappy and dirty, as were the other mill towns along the river. The River was so toxic and dirty; that the thought of it being anything more than a dumping ground for waste was unthinkable. Yet today, the mill and factory buildings sit fallow and decayed. The water in the River is clear, if not altogether clean, and fish have returned. Stretches of green adorn the River where industrial activity once rendered the waterfront a monotone dirty grey. Still, much of the land cannot easily be reused because it is haunted by contamination and pollution. The unkempt in-between spaces of the post-industrial Naugatuck Valley, the River, and Route 8 are the focus of this new body of work.
In Real Estate, I investigate the in-between status of uninhabited interiors. Some spaces reveal hints that reference past occupancy and use. A flooded hospital wall holds a painting, suspended in time; a podium sits in an abandoned courtroom; a paper American flag still hangs in the emptied newsroom; floors still reveal evidence of use, whether by footsteps embedded in the carpet or through scars made by past activity. Newer construction, defined by blank walls, suggest narratives as yet undefined. The photographs portray the inevitable transformations that define cultural spaces. They picture impermanence.