Renowned photographer Abelardo Morell was born in 1948 in Cuba but since 1962 he resides in the USA. His first experiments with the camera obscura technique started in 1988 as a teacher of photography in art college when he covered the windows in the classroom with black opaque plastic sheeting in order to darken the place and no light be visible. Then he cut a small hole in them and his students were mesmerized with the result. On the opposite wall was projected the upside-down image of the scene from the outside. Simple but so powerful. And as he says “It felt like the moment photography was invented.”
Owens Lake in California was once a 200 square-mile lake in a fertile valley. Drained for the water needs of Southern California in 1913, when the Owens River was diverted into the Owens Valley Aqueduct, now it is transformed into an arid landscape.
“For decades, fierce winds have dislodged microscopic particles from the lakebed, creating carcinogenic dust storms. Indeed, the site has become the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States, emitting 300,000 tons annually of cadmium, chromium, arsenic and other materials. The concentration of minerals in the remaining water yields blooms of microscopic bacteria, turning the liquid a deep, bloody red.”
From an eye bird view, however, it looks quite fascinating. David Maisel captured abstract scenes of color and texture bearing a resemblance “to river of blood, a microchip, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map – a strange beauty born of environmental degradation”, as he described it.
The project was mainly made 2001-2002 and is available as a photo book.