August 25, 2007. Glass Beach, Ft. Bragg, CA
infrared, #21 orange filter.
Glass Beach is located near a site which was formerly a town dump for Fort Bragg, CA. Over time, much of the discarded glass has washed ashore and the shoreline is covered in a layer of "beach glass", opaque, brightly colored, tumbled smooth fragments.
Here, the beach glass is contrasted against the still-living seaweed, (in visible-light illumination a dark olive color, now brightly reflecting the natural infrared light), colored pink to white. Most of the frame is deliberately out of focus- the intention is to draw attention to the natural elements, which appear artificial, compared with the mostly human influenced remainder of the frame. There is no arrangement or deliberate composition, and the image is not digitally altered except by choice of relative color palette.
Much of the perception of what is natural is framed not by what exists outside of human influence, but instead by what humanity recognizes and defines to be natural. The intention of my use of infrared light is not merely to remove color, as with black and white film, but instead to pervert the perception of color and to see imagery from a non-human perspective. Color is a choice- we choose to see narrow bands of light as distinct colors, which drives what is brightly illuminated versus dimly backgrounded.
Humanity is largely considered separate from nature. This is the abdication of the title- that we must step back and passively observe to commune with nature. More than mere observer, humans have the greatest impact when both so-called natural elements and guided human influence are synergistic, working together to create works of art. Here, what most would consider garbage has been sanitized into glittering beauty, while the natural elements seem almost alien in this environment- invasive, even putrid.
This is not a rejection of the natural, but an acknowlegement that all of what we observe is driven by choices: what we choose to create, or how we choose to observe what we did not create. Equipped with at most three possibilities for color perception by nature, we consider partially blind those who do not have one or the other type of pigmentation in their optic assembly. Rather, I view all of us as blind to the many choices we could possibly have, which exist unperceived around us at all times. Given invisible options, what range of choices do we leave undecided?