Recent Articles

Book Review: Forgotten Seas Tanja Engelberts (Autumn, 2023)
Source Magazine, # 112, pp76-77. 

Tanja Engleberts’ photobook ‘Forgotten Seas’ provides a valuable insight into the offshore oil and gas industry of the North Sea, which has been a mainstay of energy production for countries such as the Netherlands, UK, Norway, Denmark, and Germany, for over half a century. Published by The Eriskay Connection (NL), the Dutch artist’s offering is a large paperback volume of approximately 200-pages. The result of six years intensive research in archives, and the product of numerous voyages across the North Sea to photograph oil rigs, Engleberts’ monograph is essential reading for anyone interested in the intersections that lie between industrial maritime architecture and the ethical concerns of environmental photography.

La Vetta e L’Abisso: Carrara (August, 2023)
Photographies, 16 (3). pp. 414-431. ISSN 1754-0763.

La Vetta e L’Abisso is a sequence of photographs which address the problems associated with over-mining in the famous white marble mines of Carrara, Tuscany. As a visual essay, the series attempts to undercut contemporary notions of the sublime in the documentation of mineral extractivism, which has been dominant in recent years due to the popularity of photographers such as Edward Burtynsky. Furthermore, the title of the essay, and the display of the monochrome large format photographs with the addition of a gold-selenium tone, alludes to eco-Marxist notions of commodity fetishism and social alienation, which underpin the exploitative logic of capitalist (re-)production. Drawing on the authors previously published critical commentaries on the qualities of photography and environmental activism, this essay proposes an approach to praxis which undercuts the distant passivity of the sublime in favour of encountering the negative effects of extractivism first-hand.

John A. Todd: Photographing Mining Pollution in Gold Rush California (June, 2023). 
Youtube: Lecture for California Historical Society. 

John A. Todd’s photographs document the destructive effects of hydraulic mining in California during the Gold Rush, which ultimately led to the mining technique becoming outlawed [1884]. In this talk, Dr. Conohar Scott and Michelle Bogre argue that Todd’s photographs represent a prototype for the relationship that continues to exist between environmental activism and photography in which corporate polluters are held to account by the evidential power of the image.

Gideon Mendel Fire/Flood (February, 2023)
1000 Words Magazine.

Conohar Scott posits that Gideon Mendel’s outdoor exhibition at the Soho Photography Quarter provides a much-needed counterpoint to the iridescent spectacle of the solitary iceberg, which, upon further observation, is divorced from the broader socio-ecological context of climate change.

The eco-anarchist potential of environmental photography: Richard Misrach’s & Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America (2020)
The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory. Routledge, UK. ISBN 9781138845770. 

Taking Richard Misrach’s & Kate Orff’s publication Petrochemical America (2012) as a starting point for a range of debates, this paper argues that environmental photography has a crucial role to play in bringing about an awareness of environmental ethics, which can aid activists and autonomous groups such as citizen scientists in their struggle against industrial pollution. Key to this debate is the definition of the term environmental photography as a multimodal and collaborative genre of cultural production, which promotes the political values of eco-anarchist theories such as social ecology, through the medium of aesthetics.

Photographing mining pollution in gold rush California (April, 2017).
Photographies, 10 (2). pp. 189-209. ISSN 1754-0763.

This paper draws comparison between three photographers who documented the North Bloomfield Mining Co.’s (1866-1899) hydraulic gold mine, in California. The history of the North Bloomfield Mining Co. is of interest because of the role that photography played in promoting the interests of corporate capitalism, and conversely acting as an evidential tool for farmers whose lands were flooded by polluted tailings emanating from the mine. The company twice commissioned Carleton Watkins to document their undertakings; however, this paper argues that the aesthetic of the ‘industrial sublime’ originating in Watkins’ photographs obfuscates an understanding of the ecological realities of mining. Alternatively, this paper presents two lesser-known photographers, J.A. Todd and ‘Clinch’, who adopt a counter-aesthetic approach to Watkins. Todd’s photographs from the Woodruff vs. North Bloomfield [1884] trial were presented as evidence in the first collective civil action in US legal history, which pitched the interests of farmers against the corporate mining industry.