The Colour of Air

Selection of works associated with my MFA Photography Final Major Project.

I had a dream last night.
It’s a recurring dream.
I was walking along the beach.
The sea suddenly swelled and
consumed us all in a watery blanket,
smothering any cries.
It was a strangely elegant event,
no crashing waves,
just one sweeping breath.
We were stilled.
We all will be.
We can’t help ourselves.
We have punctured our lungs.
This is the colour of air.

‘The Colour of Air’ is a photographic project that explores and makes visible the fragile reality of a world suffering from environmental poisoning and the complexities of how we try to deal with this.

On a recent three-month trip to India, I used 120mm film shot from the back seat of an auto-rickshaw to capture the streets of highly populated cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Agra and Delhi.  I photographed the day to day lives of residents and road users; the images are an intimate reflection of a diverse social class of inhabitants and their daily existence in highly polluted cities.

On my return to the UK, I subsequently took the material and experimented with polluting them. Poisoning the negatives with chemicals, searing them with flames; making pollution that is invisible, visible. The images were then infused (digitally) with oil corporation colours; pantones of “Vivid Tangelo” and “Oxford Blue”, as a representation of the noxious environment residents and road users are continually exposed to.

Using the lens of the Anthropocene the fragility of these images re-imagines the disruption caused by humans to the ecosystem.

A whole new world has emerged since March 2020 shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our lives have changed in a way that was unimaginable at the beginning of the year. It’s a strange time and with many generations having never lived in a restricted society, losing all the liberties we have naturally become accustomed to, it’s an exceptionally surreal experience. The life we knew a short while ago has stopped in its tracks and we literally have to live our lives online and in confinement.

I feel that the work I have produced over the last few months has subconsciously been visualising this crisis and what it means, particularly mentally and how it’s affected our thoughts for the future, a very different one.

“The balance of nature is not a status quo, it is fluid, ever shifting, in a constant state of adjustment.  Man, too, is part of this balance (Carson 218).”  

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