Category Archives: California

The Salton Sea : My Siren Song

Palm Tree. Salton City, California. 2019.

Since December 2015 I have been pursuing my project Siren Song – a body of work that centres on the desert landscape of California’s Salton Sea. Although I have always known that it is the sparseness, the desert’s horizon, the open terrain, and the distant mountains that draw me in, I did not fully recognize what, specifically, called out to me and made me want to keep taking photographs there. The project continuously evolved and, very slowly, revealed itself – culminating in new and different work during last month’s trip. I have been moving steadily toward this but, to my amazement, it has taken seven visits to the area (a total of about 18 weeks) for me to finally figure out what has pulled me back to this environment, over and over again – what has been haunting me throughout.

For me, the area around the Salton Sea has a ghost-like feeling. It is the silence and emptiness, the realness and rawness of place, that lures me there. The streets give the illusory impression of being un-peopled yet generate a strong sense of a corporeal presence – something invisible there has always stared back at me. Although some of the photographs I made, this past visit, are steeped in the here and now most are not quite in the past, present, or the future. What I was seeing has always been there but, in some odd way, this time, this place has facilitated conjuring my own dreams and encountering my own ghosts.

Tree. Salton Sea Beach, California. 2019.

Rain Over the Desert and the Salton Sea. Salton Sea, California. 2019.

Inside-out. Bombay Beach, California. 2019.

Baughman and Forrester Roads, Westmoreland, California. 2019.

Trees. W. Eddins Road. Calipatria, California. 2019.

Tree and Brush. Westmoreland, California. 2019.

Landscape. Outside Westmoreland, California. 2019.

Don Avenue. Salton Sea Beach, California. 2019.

The Salton Sea Redux

Seeding Artichoke in the Fields. Imperial Valley, California. 2018.

This is the first time I’ve visited the Salton Sea in April. It is a much greener time of the year and the flowers are beautiful. It’s all about flora today (although not all green).

Wetland. Managed Marsh Complex for Hunting. The Salton Sea, California. 2018.

Your guess is as good as mine, here. If anyone knows what this shrub(?) is please let me know. Road off the Fountain of Youth Spa, Imperial Valley, California. 2018.

Imperial Wildlife Area. Finney-Ramer Unit. Imperial Valley, California. 2018.

Burned Tree. Desert Shores, California. 2018.

Palm Trees. Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Land. The Salton Sea, California. 2018.

Flowers. Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Land. The Salton Sea, California. 2018.

Return to the Salton Sea

          

View of Santa Rosa Mountains from the Salton Sea Recreation Area, California

View of Santa Rosa Mountains from the Salton Sea Recreation Area, California

I am back at the Salton Sea. I have been here for two weeks and have less than a week to go. This past weekend I realised that blanks are filling in, on this project; it is a satisfying feeling. Another trip or two, to this area, and I should be able to say “that’s it!”  This place, right from the start, touched me. It will be odd to not have to return. In the meantime… there is still more work to get done.

Dust Storm seen from Route 111, California

Dust Storm in the Imperial Valley, California

Niland, California

Niland, California

Niland, California

Niland, California

Calipatria, California

Calipatria, California

Calipatria, California

Calipatria, California

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

Brawley, California

North Shore, California

North Shore, California

North Shore, California

North Shore, California

Westmoreland, California

Westmoreland, California

Westmoreland, California

Westmoreland, California

Westmoreland, California

Westmoreland, California

Bombay Beach, California

Bombay Beach, California

Bombay Beach, California

Bombay Beach, California

For some facts about the Salton Sea take a look at the Salton Sea Authority website.

Bombay Beach, California

Bombay Beach, California

Breathless Without You

I am playing with an ongoing series of diptychs and triptychs of photographs, mostly shot in completely different places and/or years apart (and certainly not meant for each other), that seem to come into being when put together. The three pictures below are something of an exception to the rule and were taken during my last trip to the Salton Sea, in California, a few weeks ago. Not intended to be linked, jointly they come to life.

Desert Shore, California.

Desert Shores, California.

Off Highway 111, California.

Off Highway 111, California.

Bombay Beach, California.

Bombay Beach, California.

Back at the Salton Sea

Road toward Naval Test Site, Salton Sea, California

Road toward Naval Test Site, Salton Sea, California.

Another view of the road toward Naval Test Site, Salton Sea, California

Another view of the road. Naval Test Site, Salton Sea, California

This past week I wandered off Route 86 onto the only paved road (not in a city/town) that leads to the Salton Sea – just past the Border Control station. That morning I hiked eight miles to and from the water; I spent the rest of the time photographing what little remains (without going off-road — a sedan does not cut the grade for driving in the desert; and on top of that, there *may* be unexploded ordinances in the area!) of the old World War II Naval Test Site.  This was operated by Sandia Base (later Sandia Laboratory) as a site for test-dropping dummy and live bombs; Sandia called this site The Salton Sea Test Bed.

As I headed back toward the “86” I noticed a Border Patrol truck parked at the edge of a date-palm field. Moments later, it seemed I was being followed; it took about three or four minutes before I was pulled aside. The officer asked me what I was doing down the road. Had I slept there overnight? How long had I been there? I was never asked to open my trunk (thus my smuggled Mexicans and meth remained undetected), my car was not searched, nor was my driver’s license asked for. He did request that I return to my car, however, because i had stepped out (foolish me). Once he’d convinced himself that I was not a risk to anyone or to myself, I had a chance to ask him a few questions.  It turns out that this is a common area for illegal entry into the United States from Mexico. Below are two articles I dug up on that topic (most of my findings had to do with people being stopped at this Border Patrol point – not after or before it…) :

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jan/31/news/mn-14074

http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/NewRToxicPathtoUSA.html

And here are more photographs from the Naval Test Site:

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea!

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea! Salt-encrusted metal at the Salton Sea, California.

Naval Test Site Pier. Salton Sea, California

Pier. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California

Building A-1(?). Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Building A-1(?). Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Naval Test Site. Salton Sea. California

Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Same building as above - frontal view. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Same building as above – frontal view. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Inside. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Inside. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Inside. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.

Inside. Naval Test Site. Salton Sea, California.