Monday, 17 October 2011



Water has no color of its own, color in water always refers to something extra: sky or foliage reflected, water bedding shining through, algae and other microlife, metals or minerals brought in from the soil or otherwise - sources that are either natural or the result of industrial pollution, sometimes harmless or sometimes disastrous; and ironically the worst kinds of ecological disaster create the most striking colors of water, delighting the eye until they turn bleak or black when the spectator realizes what causes this luring beauty and at what price.

For me the lovely little orange streams in Owens Lake turned pitchblack when I learned how this lake had fallen dry after in the early 20th century the Los Angeles Aquaduct had been built, turning it into a salt bed and mineral mining area from which alkali storms plague the surrounding regions, causing various illnesses. The dazzling cyanoblue of a large basin in Baha California (Mexico) paled when I found out it was brought about by waste from huge power plants providing electricity to tens of thousands of households. The intense and ecstatic green of an Arizona pond washed into grim greyness when I realized poisonous mine tailings pigmented the water.

I felt this cruel beauty might not only speak to me but also to others, and might arouse an interest in what had brought it about. So I decided to document these colors of water as signals of ecological impact of mining, water supply, farming, irrigation, salt industry and power plants. Next to Owens Dry Lake, the Cerro Prieto power plants areas and Arizona mining areas, I portrayed Salton Sea, the San Francisco Salt Ponds and Searles Lake (Trona) - all are the result of human interventions in the landscape and all are polluted areas though not all equally disastrously. A few areas have entered the first phase of restoration. For most areas, however, this still is a faraway future.


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