13 November 2014


You arrive at New York's Penn Station fifteen minutes ahead of the train's scheduled departure, uncharacteristic of you, but your morning meeting in DC is important, and out of nervousness, you left the apartment a little early. While you stand on the platform, you shake your head thinking of the old days in which you would be biting your fingernails in the taxi crawling through traffic to the airport, and suffer the indignities of the security line for a flight, the door to door time being four hours. You never cease to marvel at the sleek white bullet trains as this one pulls into the station, or at the ease of the 2 hours door to door that your journey will take today.

High speed train in Hamburg Station

Though this may seem like a fantasy, it is the reality today in Europe. Germany, especially, has made tremendous investments in its high-speed rail system, and is reaping the rewards. The world marvels at the German miracle, but it is no miracle, it is the result of smart investment. The Deutsche Bahn connects Europe, creates a very efficient place for people to work and live, and, not coincidentally, binds the continent together. Germany is also making major investments in renewable energy, investments that will pay off many times in the future, as have the investments in high-speed trains.

Evening storm clouds over wind mills in Baltic Sea

In America while our politicians debate the reality of climate change, scientists, unless they are under the pay of climate deniers, unanimously stress the urgency for action to reduce carbon release. Investments are never easy when they are made, but they pay off. As the world changes, the conditions will favor new industries, and the old interests will resist that change. It has always been so: carriage makers undoubtedly fought the dominance of the automobile. The world will change, and carbon energy will be obsolete. Those that have invested in alternatives will come out ahead, those economies that have been dominated and directed by obsolete industries will stumble.

Humans are not good at reacting to threats that they cannot see. When there are opposing information sources, one saying to worry, change will happen, the other saying not to worry, one wants to believe the voice of inertia. But the time has come to act, and get that fast train to DC.

05 November 2014

Images from the Bakken

I can always count on myself to do the wrong thing.
Often I act even knowing that it is the wrong thing, but usually it's just a reflex.

As a visual artist in the digital age, one struggles with the questions of reproduction, rights, usage, and of course money.
Reflexively one wants to limit access to images, and thus make every use more dear, yes? Isn't that the basic model of supply and demand? And we have all watched the media giants struggle with that question, losing their shirts more often than not.

Then there are the respective policies of the web giants with whom we entrust our oeuvre, all of whom claim unlimited usage of our property.
All these factors have caused me to limit the exposure of pictures on the internet.

But there are stories to tell, and social media provides a great platform for so doing.
And, these stories won't be told if the pictures stay interred on hard drives.

Letting go and resignation are often inevitable aspects of contemporary life, a two-step that we seem to do automatically in this world. Because who can question every issue, read every notification, check the ingredients of every product?

One story that burns to be told over and over is the source of the petroleum we use so heedlessly. As we have exhausted the easy access resources, we must now exploit the remote, and they are generally located in more challenging topographies and at greater distance from help.

One of the fruitful new exploits in the USA is the Bakken Shale Formation in the bread basket of North Dakota, from which we are extracting a goodly amount of oil using unimaginable volumes of fresh water, while, like a junkie that prefers the drug to even food, we allow grain to rot for want of transport to market. The trains are all busy carrying the oil to refineries.
Meanwhile the farms that once fed the nation are left with piles of radioactive drilling waste and contaminated water.

One wonders how to tell this complex story with a visual narrative, whether to create a story board and illustrate the process step by step, or perhaps lay out my method and timetable, thus my slice, and then show the pictures as they were taken.

Given the arbitrary schedule of social media viewers, we have opted for a more random presentation, and will post these pictures more or less as they were shot, hoping that anyone who is interested will go back, look at the totality, and formulate their own impression of the process.