My friend Richard Smith is an amazing photographer. I adore his photos of shopping carts that are embedded in the mudflats of the Thames.
I offered to give Richard a tour of Dashville and he took me up on it. It was early evening and the light was lovely. We made a couple stops photo stops along the way. By the time we got to Dashville it was raining. We didn’t know it but a tornado warning had been issued. We started the tour by the hydroelectric facility in a light rain. We took a few shots and it started rain harder. The thunder and lightning seemed to get closer so we retreated to the car.
When the rain slowed we explored the downstream/eddy part of the Dashville site. I took this photo of Richard at work.
Richard and I share an interest in the New Topographers. We talked about Richard Misrach and other photographers who have an interest in landscapes that show signs heavy human use. Watching Richard as he carefully made his away along the bank looking for shots, helped me understand my own fascination with finding beauty and hope in ruin. Something is being created here amongst and with the the trash. I think there is more to be said on this topic in later posts.
Brief interview with Richard:
Last Photo by Richard as we leave Dashville…
Dashville is exactly the kind of place I would have been drawn to as a kid. What we are talking about here is a largely unwatched stretch of land, heavily worn, polluted, and (except for the fisherman and the occasional daring swimmer) ignored. The river, the fish, the debris, the propane tanks, the car parts, the nail polish bottles, the fire rings, the bones… a repository for all the things that we cast-off, but also a spacious locale for pre-teens who are looking for some independence and something to do.
My amazing friend Michael Wilcock joined me for a few hours to gather debris for my project. We toured around the Dashville site and talked about similar locations that we remembered from our youth. Michael grew up in Scotia, NY and his version of Dashville was situated along the Mohawk River and was dubbed “The Pines.” Check out the video below where Michael tells me about his experience with “walking fire” at the “The Pines.”
In December of 2008, Michael and I visited “The Pines” with our bikes. I’ve included a few images from our exploration below…
Back at Dashville in 2012, Michael and I continued to scout around, collected a truckload of debris and met a family of swimmers. At Unison we started laying out the shelter.
In a previous post, I referred to an angled ramp that I had hoped to use as a part of my information kiosk for the campsite at Unison. I really liked the shape. Somehow it made sense to me for the kiosk. I think I have it figured out now…
My information kiosk loosely resembles signs from the National Forest Service. The color scheme is quite similar to signage produced by the Bureau of Land Management.
I also started working on the flood debris trail.
My friend Emily Martin agreed to help me move a load of flood debris using a borrowed truck. The first load of debris (from my previous post) was collected very near to the hydroelectric plant. This second load was collected downstream a couple of hundred yards toward the end of the eddy that forms in the river’s bend. Check out the aerial photo below to get a better sense of the place.
Emily carts a load from the truck to the site at Unison.
Two loads of flood debris at the Unison site.
My first order of business is to establish an area of flood debris at the Unison Site. The ground there is pretty much level so the placement of the debris is really arbitrary. Flood logic would mandate that the site be completely covered with debris or not covered at all. But I feel that the Dashville site will be poorly represented without flood debris, so I’ve decided to create a path into the Unison campsite with flood debris. I also wanted to get started on a kiosk where I can post information about the project as it evolves. Finally, I wanted to move a fire ring to Unison.
So my shopping list for Dashville was as follows:
- Flood Debris
- Kiosk Materials
- Fire Ring
The wooden construction that is leaning against my car was a ramp that sloped up to an angled entry way. I’m excited about using this as the top part of my information kiosk.
The sequence below shows my strategy for managing the rocks in the fire ring. I number them with chalk so that I can recreate the ring faithfully. Carrying them up the long hill back to the car is no joke.
The following photographs were taken on 5/22/12 in the evening. The large white coins were being removed. The site is located toward the end of a big walking loop that defines the sculpture garden. I am pleased with the site. It really does feel like an undeveloped campsite.
The image below gives a rough idea of how I might use the Unison site.