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.

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