After The Fall
Some time ago, I found myself standing before a field littered with a kaleidoscopic array of plastic bags. A retired couple was just passing by. “Isn't this absolutely ghastly?” they announced in a mutual tone of consternation. I paused momentarily before surprising everybody, including myself, by remarking that the scene was one of the most remarkable things I'd seen in a while. I returned to the site the very next week only to find the surroundings transformed. The ground was bulldozed clear and for me at least, the magic had dissipated.
So that was how it all started. By degrees, and unconsciously at first, I began seeking out places that reminded me of that field. Environments that existed in a state of impermanence, both fragile and fleeting, where the urban zoning system fragmented at the edges as the city gradually unravelled. Over the next several years I visited hundreds of towns and cities in more than 15 countries, with the Internet-driven democratisation of geospatial information enabling access to locales that would have remained completely undiscovered to me a decade ago.
As time passed, what originated as a purposeful exploration of the unpredictable, often disturbing results of the collisions that are gradually and chaotically refashioning the spaces around us was itself reshaped into a more unquantifiable and deeply personal endeavour. The dislocating effects of travel, the desire to cultivate a consistent visual language that might span geographic borders and the recurrence of certain visual tropes had combined to engender situations where I felt almost totally disconnected from the geographic specifics of place, where my location became immaterial.
Was I instead wandering uncertainly across a ubiquitous and interconnected global metropolis, at once both everywhere and nowhere? Or, having navigated halfway across the world to spend a handful of hours, never to return, in a remote urban wilderness, what if I actually was the singular transitory element within the landscape? And if so, what quixotic impulse had possessed me to do all of this?
The presence of those potent, disconcerting elements of uncertainty became a key ingredient of the entire experience. In any case, the resulting images may speak to something deeper within our collective memories: the loss of places we once knew, an inexorable reminder of the inevitability of change. A farewell to personal Edens.