Home From The Gulf

I just returned home, and I feel overwhelmed thinking about how I am going to process what I experienced over the past few weeks. Although not like trying to put my experience in Iraq into a form that others could understand, many aspects of the situation in the Gulf are the same. The fact is, many things in this world one must experience for themselves to fully understand. Even after having the experience it is often still impossible to fully comprehend.

While in Louisiana I had access to opportunities in which it would have been impossible to use the wet collodion process. These include accessing skimming operations offshore via boat, and visiting the relief well drilling operations. These opportunities, although not resulting in plates for my primary purpose for being in Louisiana, provided a more complete vision of the situation in which I was working.

Below, a fishing vessel from Grand Isle, Louisiana is being used to skim oil from the surface of the water. Fishermen who sigh on with BP to conduct skimming operations are paid to drag boom whether oil is currently in the area or not. On this day, the only day I ever smelled oil in the air from the beach, it is obvious that this boat had been busy in the earlier hours. All boats are decontaminated every 24 hours.

©2010 Phillip Nesmith

Some have asked how many plates I have from the trip, and I can honestly say that I am not sure. I can say that I don’t have as many as I would like. I continue to feel frustrated that I needed a few more weeks to make what I wanted, and to take advantage of the expanding opportunities that were continually developing there. I have avoided looking at most of the plates after I wrapped them up to but some distance between myself, the plate, and the situation surrounding it’s creation. I have often worked this way, even on digital projects as I am often hyper critical of my efforts at the time of creation and often cannot see the full potential of my results. Time helps me to see full potential in what I have accomplished and how things live together.

The next several weeks will be spent processing what I have experienced and made over the past few weeks. I will be writing about my experience and processing digital images from the island of Grand Isle and the visit to the well site in the Gulf of Mexico. The wet collodion plates still need to be varnished and professionally scanned so much work remains to be done with those, and I expect that because of approaching teaching responsibilities for the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) that final resolution of the plate work remains a while off in the future. I will continue to share with you my experience and results through Kickstarter until all reward levels are fulfilled. Please be patient, but feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.


~ by Phil Nesmith on July 1, 2010.

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