Geological Survey/Aftermath
Home



Geological Survey/Aftermath

Geological Survey/Aftermath is an ongoing archive of photographs focused on reading land formation and the phenomena that shape it in geologic deep time. The next phase of the project is to respond to faster processes that transform the land in a human time span such as landslides, forest fires, flash floods and coastal erosion. In the midst of the anthropocene, this record may function as a memorial as well as an archive.

Phenomena that shape the land often happen off stage from the photograph and what one is left with to contemplate is its aftermath—carved canyons, strewn boulders, desert washes that leave tangled debris behind. The photographs within this series are grouped and titled according to the phenomena that shaped them, such as Rock Falls and River Canyons, The Desert Wash, Volcanic, etc. Plants and trees that persevere longer than a human life are also examined here. The groups, rocks, trees and plants are treated with visual devices to become like a specimen in a museum of natural history, offered so we may read and interpret them. Each group of photographs contains a visual language and logic that heighten the phenomena that formed it. Photographs of massive boulders in the group Rock Falls and River Canyons are treated as portraits. They are framed with 19th century and contemporary devises that emphasize the boulders as natural sculptural art formations, and raise questions about the forces that shaped them. Redwood trees that have the potential to live upwards of 2,300 years are flooded with an unnatural amount of light. The light emphasizes the idea of scrutiny. There is cross-pollination between the visual languages of the groups of photographs, bringing them into conversation with each other to tell an ongoing story of land formation.

These geologic stories of transformation implicate us in our own relationship to the land. They evoke the scientific process of examining the land as evidence, and suggest our existential connection to and curiosity about processes that dwarf our lifespan.

SHARON HARPER