photographing in the Coorong

We stayed a couple of days at Salt Creek in the Coorong on our way back from Adelaide from Melbourne so that I could pick up the second part of the edgelands project after a hiatus. I had been working on the Australian abstraction and Fleurieuscapes projects and I wanted to concentrate on  the edge lands associated with  the River Murray. I wanted to check out whether the  Coorong offered  any possibilities. 

My starting point was  a  familiar spot that I knew from when I briefly photographed  here several years ago,  and I was quite happy to return there and  begin to photograph in terms of South Australia landscapes. We arrived  at Salt Creek in the late afternoon and  I checked  out the location  for a 5x4 shoot  whilst we were on a poodle walk in the late afternoon light.

I was thinking  of constructing this low lying lying landscape into  horizontal strips of land, sea and sky. The lush afternoon light made  the image  too picturesque, and  it placed too much emphasis on  natural beauty for the edge lands project. When  I photographed the next day with the 5x4 Linhof it was in  flat morning light so that  this landscape  would look more stark and weird.  

The Coorong is remote, and it is usually seen as a pristine wilderness to escape to  in order to fish, camp, or walk, or commune.  This  area does have its own rugged beauty that is often overlooked. This rugged beauty  can be quite seductive,  and  it is quite hard to resist photographing it,   especially in the  lush early morning and late afternoon light. I couldn't resist admiring the assemblage  of  sun, water, rocks and plants  in this part of the  Coorong as an aesthetic object.   

Romanticism evokes the beauty and sublimity of the natural landscape as a pristine wilderness that is a respite from the horrors of industrial capitalism.  Nature becomes, in the Romantic period and af­ terward, a way of healing what modern society has damaged. Human beings are forlornly alienated from their world. Contact with nature will mend the bridge between subject and object.

 Reconciling subject and object comes about by evokes the beauty and sublimity of the natural landscape as a pristine wilderness to to express  the profound depth of human subjectivity.The two poles of the Romantic view of nature, the complementary ideals of a sacrosanct external world and a self-sufficient inner experience, have persisted remarkably unchanged down into the present

However, the Coorong is not a pristine wilderness: it's current ecological state has emerged as a result of the interplay of human and nonhuman forces. For instance,  it is ecologically damaged by  the  lack of water   from the River Murray flowing into,   and mixing with, the sea water. The decrease in fresh water is  due to industrialised irrigated agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin taking too much water from the rivers in the  Murray-Darling Basin. The ecological damage  to  the Coorong will become worse as southern Australia dries out  from global warming.  Climate change in the form of global warming is a disaster. 

 How then does art or photography convey a sense of this space and place where everything is interconnected?

 The ecologically damaged could be represented by the "weirdness," "uncanniness," "monstrosity," and "strangeness" of  the natural as well as human-made objects and environments. This, including the slimy,  refers to the excluded remainder of the Romantic conception of nature. Such an bleak approach--a dark ecology if you like--- would  help to unsettle any aspirations toward a harmonious  or  an in-balanced nature that is construed as "over there" or "'over yonder,'" and separate from humans. 

Could we not try to let the relational objects  speak for themselves,  and so  help to diminish the significance of our own ephemeral impressions and notions?