Blythe irrigation canal, 2009, 5×19″ open-edition digital print on archival paper, signed by the artist: $175
Please inquire if interested in a larger, custom size, up to 36 inches wide.
In 2002, I took a trip through parts of the Southwest—mainly California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado—to photograph bodies of water for a project I was then working on. I was mostly interested in unglamorous water like ditches, small reservoirs, and irrigation canals, as well as creeks and rivers where they passed through urban areas. Almost the entire western part of the United States depends on these unobtrusive waterways, as well as the even less visible systems of pipes and pumps that move fantastic amounts of water from the mountains to the cities.
I photographed every site with the expectation of later stitching the series of images made on that spot into a panorama. I was not interested in creating something seamless and spectacular, so I paid minimal attention to the technology of panoramic photography (the camera’s axis, exposure balance, etc.). I was shooting with an early digital camera so that I could work with my image bank as I went along.
The project I started out on never materialized, but I have slowly been working on the “Western Waters” panoramas in the years since.
As its title suggests, the panorama above was made in the small city of Blythe, which sits on the border of California and Arizona, straddling the Colorado River. It was one of those hot, dry summer days when all life seems to have been sucked away except for a few sparse weeds. While I was photographing this site, I began to feel as if it could never change, and that I too might be there forever, gradually slowing down until I turned to concrete myself.
This panorama was composed of half a dozen individual images, with the black-line dividers placed to punctuate the visual rhythm of the piece and create five smaller images. I colorized and abstracted it as a visual analog of the mental effort I had to make to imagine the site as otherwise than it was then, a composition of austere mauve-browns, gray-greens, and muddy blues. What might it look like at sunset, at dawn, in the winter, under the influence of a fever or some other altered mental state?
This is the first of the panoramas to be completed, and hopefully not the last. I’m also offering, as a self-contained print, the second and third sections of this panorama. You can find the information about that print on its own page.