The Salton Sea has consumed most of my time over the past 10 months and continues to be an area of focus. Like a dream, the Salton Sea is a magical place of hell by definition. And like many areas in the United State it serves as an example of brilliance and absurdity, along with denial. The Salton Sink was throughout history a low lying area (-235 ft. below sea level) that would flood then dry and continue the cycle, creating and sustaining itself until irrigation canals of the Colorado River pushed further west. Between 1905 and 1907 the Salton Sink flooded by a breach in the wall of an irrigation canal. The Colorado river that produces over 60% of Southern California fresh water today flooded in to the sink for 2 years creating what still lingers today. A shallow salt lake filled with irrigation runoff, algae blooms, and beaches covered with the dead tilapia that could no longer survive in the fluctuating saline levels.
The Salton Sea now poses one of the greatest health risks to California, but also in the United States. Water overflow agreements end in 2017 and the sink will no longer have excess irrigation water running into it, along with no natural outlet. The sink itself has long posed health risks. Imperial County has the highest rate on asthma related emergency room visits in California. The air in the region is the worst in the United States and stirred recent air quality warnings in Los Angeles. Let me repeat that, Air form a region well over 150 miles away is bad enough that a strong wind from the Salton Sea creates a warning for Los Angeles (because the carbon monoxide levels created by this crazy tinted window car culture is not bad enough).
Roughly and hour away sits one of the most amazing places on earth, Joshua Tree National Park. An area so magically bizarre it rests between the expressions of “wtf” and “oh my god that is amazing” both with the same tempo of voice. At one of the highest peaks in Joshua Tree you can look out over Coachella Valley all the way to the Salton Sink on a good day. I have been to this point 3 times in the past 3 years, and each time is just as hazy as the last. Sometimes you can see further than others, but you will always notice a distance haze of heat and pollution. Park signs give a visual queue to what is a “scenic” viewpoint of pollution in the air we breath bellow. Park visitors read and continue with out much thought as we all re-enter a polluted atmosphere below.
The few Images that follow are part of several different photo sessions at the Salton Sea with a few video stills from a current video work.
I will update this page often with more news and research along with photo and video as the project progresses.