Jun 10, 2010

off the grid

today, i'm packing for a week long packrafting trip in the Brooks Range. good friends, 80 miles of hiking, 70 miles of paddling, and some needed absence of external stimuli. i have a heap of new images, and i'm happy with how things are progressing, and i feel like i've rounded a bit of a corner. i feel like i need to be pushing harder, but also feel like maybe i'm in a weeds a bit. history has proved, that its probably a good time to get some distance and freshen up.

some extended time with only necessities on my back will be therapeutic. the oil spill in the gulf still has me stewing, and i find myself asking many questions. selfish questions, that deal with my own environment and obligations. i can't help but look in the mirror, and question my own responsibilities as a photographer - especially in Alaska. its easy to be romantic here, to be wooed by the promise of beauty, and a frontier that is perpetually threatened. i feel, today, like i should be doing more, employ a more critical eye, but to what end?

tomorrow i begin an adventure across ANWR, and i feel profoundly empty of any perspective on accomplishing anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. there will be much time to think, and i'm hoping the distance will provide some clarity. my questions aren't unique. its the notion of where, and what we consider untouched, protected, and worth fighting over that i question. the ultimate decisions of a few, having the ability to destroy the lives of so many. its not about being for, or against, drilling in the arctic as much as its about responsibility, stewardship, and ownership.

if we speak about conservation, my own hypocrisy isn't entirely lost on me. two weeks ago i drove over a thousand miles on a road into, and out of, the arctic. a road made possible by the oil industry. i burned oil to make the trip. my photographs, my objective, frivolous to most. what i see at the end of the road is not attractive. the possibility, and reality, of catastrophe there is not attractive. off shore drilling in the arctic is not attractive. five hundred miles of new road across permafrost is not attractive. but, in its ugliness is complication. not black, nor white. similarly, my focus has not been predictable. i think often about the subtlety, and nuance, in other photographer's work - photographers whom i admire greatly. it's a supremely difficult thing to do. my use of oil as a consistent minor player behind a more human story which attracts me. my need is to offer questions, not to attempt to provide answers. i wonder often, however, whether i'm better off swinging for the fences. being more predictable. whether the quest for a subtle, slow burn, through fifty photographs is enough. and, whether the fire is even on the negative. i sometimes question the whisper, when at times i want to scream.

mile 294, February, 2009

its time to get off the grid for a bit. concentrate on the effort of forward momentum and exist simply. removing myself to become more moved.

we're taking the Northern of the two routes.

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