the Beachcombing series

38 images Created 17 Nov 2013

I live on Mount Desert Island, Maine, where I have been exploring and studying the intertidal zone for 20 years. I first began to make still life photographs as a way of articulating my curiosity about the things I find and teasing apart the layers of natural history and human occupation on the shoreline. I identify things as specifically as possible - not just plants and animals, but rocks and garbage. Over the years I’ve become more and more concerned with plastic trash and its effect on ocean ecosystems, and I give it the same attention as other occupants of the shore.

For many years I used science-based metaphors for this work – I thought of my walk on the shore as a transect, the items I picked up as points of data, and the photos as abstracted graphs of those data points. As my knowledge and understanding of intertidal ecosystem dynamics has grown, the science has become the foundation of the work and not the focus, in the way that mastering a language allows your attention to shift from grammar to expression. You know you’re fluent when you can crack a joke or craft a poem. My old visual code of graphs and data sets dealt with static systems of understanding, like scientific nomenclature and species identification. Now the still lifes are morphing into spirals and syncopations that reflect the intertwined relationships and the constantly shifting energy of the intertidal zone.
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