18 July 2012


We were extremely pleased when Dartmouth's Hood Museum notified us that the student curatorial team had chosen “Arsenic is Grey” as their addition to the permanent collection last year.

The Museum's focus on environmental photography is a pleasure to see in this world of denial. It was also gratifying that they invited me to come speak in conjunction with the exhibit “Looking Back at Earth” for which my image was chosen as the key artwork.

The trek from NYC to Dartmouth is long, and, as I always prefer mass transit, the best option was a bus from the Yale Club, which proved to be a door-to-door pleasure, complete with internet and decent coffee. Hanover, NH has many features of other college towns: a thriving cultural life, good organic and local food (so hard to find elsewhere in the USA), and decent coffee, though the boutique cafe brews each cup singularly using a plastic drip funnel, a horror for a plastiphobe like myself. I spoke first to a Photo 101 class, and as usual in that setting, bounced back and forth between photo-technique and environmental. My query established that there were some climate change deniers in the group, so I did not hammer that sensitive issue too hard (god bless amerika). We live in a land polarized by vitriolic dialog, and a rabid denial of science. The water is rising and storms increasing, yet half of our population clings to the Fox party line that climate change is non-existent (god bless amerika). But God will not save us, only we can do that, but the tipping point comes perilously closer. Once we push up global temperature enough to release that frozen methane in the tundra and ocean floor, game over.

But it's pointless to tell this to someone fed on a diet of Fox disinformation, because, like the Incas that could not see the murderous weapons of the Spaniards, they will not hear it.
So I take pictures. Of the things that are causing cancer and climate change. And I make them disturbingly beautiful, so they create doubt in the minds of the certain. Because dialog has failed in our country, and hard has a magical way of getting around that, of sidestepping the “rationalizing brain.” So just look at the pictures, and I will try to keep my mouth shut. And think about the impact on your grandchildren of that next roll of toilet paper you buy.

After the class there was a well-attended public talk in the auditorium, with lots of questions at the end, which I love. Dartmouth was a wonderful experience, and it's a pleasure to interact with young people that are asking questions with open eyes. I hope they can awaken the rest of us.