Springs and Swamps
These photographs were made in a geographical location that is both seductive and sickening. This place is Florida, home to some of the most unique and breathtaking ecosystems in the world. But it is no secret that Florida is a victim of its own allure. Along with these remarkable environments, it is screaming with out of control development. I am not interested in making pictures of what created this mayhem; it’s all over the media. The New Yorker in April 2009 had an article about what happens in communities near the Everglades when non-native species invade. In July 2009 the national nightly news had a story about a 14-foot python eating a 6-foot alligator. We all know what post Disney strip malls, towering condominiums and McMansions look like. I want to show what you haven’t seen.
I bring you unique views of rare landscapes. The pictures are hard to classify, try as people will. No one genre fits. They are landscapes, most shot underwater, and combined with elements of street shooting, documentary, the pictorial and the ethereal. This ambiguity is their strength and very much part of the world from which they come. The photographs are not manipulated.
The pictures are from two related bodies of work, Springs and Swamps. The first series was shot in the pristine freshwater rivers and springs of north and central Florida. This exploration and the resulting photographs inspired a trek to the southern part of the state where the most magnificent primordial swamps are located in Big Cypress National Preserve and its neighbor, Everglades National Park. Parts of the park and preserve are a mere forty-five minutes from the sprawl of Miami to the east and Naples to the west, much of these areas are wild and untouched. Via the good fortune of Artist-in-Residence awards from both the park and the preserve I got to explore this vibrant and organic region.
The exquisite natural light that graces the springs and swamps is used solely to illuminate my pictures. In open water there is ever-present particulate matter. This layering of mud and muck, although it may appear to interfere with the water’s clarity, is in fact its lifeblood: the living, and breathing, matter seasons the soup and reflects, refracts and bends the light to create its complexity. There is no attempt by me to slick up the environments or for that matter, the pictures. These places are powerful and visceral and to show the essence of these remarkable areas, the photographs are as layered and rich as are the environments. And sometimes, therefore the pictures are unapologetically messy, messy at its most appealing.
These photographs are in no way intended to be a scientific mapping of Florida’s wilds. But, due to my pure obsession with these phenomenal places it has become some sort of survey in a looser and more poetic way. One location leads me to another and
I continue my trek through Florida’s fresh waters.
Living preoccupied lives, water is far from our day-to-day consciousness and concern. My pictures remind you of the intricate and infinite nature of water. The images are sensuous because the places I photograph are. If the images can provide a respite for the viewer he or she might have a moment of awareness and consider one of many possible scenarios. For example, you are in a gallery in Miami viewing my pictures and you are enjoying a refreshing glass of water. Only a short distance from the wilds of the Everglades, you may very well be drinking water that originated in the swamp I slogged through to make the picture you just viewed.
The mystery of these waters and the complicated puzzle of their continued existence inspires these pictures and continues to summon us to look even deeper.