Boundary Project? Yeah, that happened.

©2012 Phillip D. Nesmith

The last time I posted to this blog I was writing about putting together a trip to explore the ideas of boundaries, surveillance, and the landscape.  Specifically I had my sights set on spending two months in the southern desert of Arizona.  Well, I went with the help of a group of very supportive people who I will introduce here in the near future.

The project?  Other than my first trip to Iraq, I can say it was my most challenging endeavor, more so than the BP Gulf spill in many ways if you can imagine that.  The trip was filled with high hopes and adventure, defeat, wonderful sights, technical issues, vehicle breakdowns, awesome hospitality, flash floods, encounters with drug loads and ultimately a few really nice plates.  Yeah that all happened and more.  Although I shared some of the happenings of the trip fairly timely via Facebook, over the next few weeks I want to share some additional details and observations here.  Until then, and while I continue to get my thoughts together, enjoy the wet collodion ambrotype above.

The plate is 7×5″ and was made in late June during the morning hours while overlooking the international boundary between the United States and Mexico.  While I was making this image, and conducting all of the preparation work necessary such as setting up my portable darkroom, about 500ibs of dope lay hidden near by.  The airwaves were abuzz with radio traffic about my strange activities which were clearly visible by electronic and optical means from great distances.  The Border Patrol was watching the dope and the smugglers were watching them and me, everyone wondering what the hell this guy with the bright red tent was doing.  In the upper right of the plate, if you use your imagination and look in the right spot you will see two Border Patrol trucks blurred by their movement during the slow exposure coming to get a better look at me.

For the past to months I have avoided looking into the boxes that contained the 7×5″ and 12×20″ plates I made in Arizona.  Partly this was due to mental and physical exhaustion, but it is also the way I like to work.  Having some distance from the time of creation helps me to see things with greater clarity, I don’t believe making critical judgements while the sweat is still stinging my eyes produces the best results.  This wait has been much longer than normal, but the distance has been very helpful.  Now the time has come for light to once again touch the surface of the glass.


~ by Phil Nesmith on October 12, 2012.

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