Arriving in Florida after 12 years in the Caribbean, I find myself surrounded by a manicured suburban environment, rather than the inherently picturesque disorder of nature and barely restrained tropical decay more common in the Caribbean. Perhaps it is the difference that makes me notice, instead of take it for granted.
The gloss on the landscape along with the shiny baubles for sale in upscale shops distract from an awareness of the damage done to nature by the energy and other inputs required to maintain the suburban lifestyle. They also camouflage the increasing disparities in wealth and income, with poverty hidden away behind the bushes, in suburban homes, and in neighborhoods no one visits.
The manipulated landscape provides material for attractive imagery. The challenge is to find that beauty and evoke pleasure or a smile when the energy of life shines through — without losing touch with the unease at what may lurk beneath the smooth surface.
Turtle in Metal -- 2011
[Note: Someone asked why I had turned comments “off” on this post. That was unintentional, and I apologize. They are back “on” now. — May 5, 2011.]
There are ruins, both old and new, on the old site of Fort Louise Augusta high above the point that guards the entrance to Christiansted harbor. Some of these ruins are decorated with graffiti that are not likely to be innocent.
Just to the left of the graffiti are the remains of an old building covered in the thorny cactus-like stalks of the night-blooming cereus. It was not blooming on this day, but I have seen the blooms, and they are spectacular.
The ruins, beautiful views of the harbor and ocean, contrasted with modern radio equipment housed in a ramshackle block building and a navigation light on the farthest point make this an interesting place to visit. Yet because of the graffiti and litter that speak to less desirable private activities, and the remoteness of the place, one also feels peculiarly vulnerable here.
We no longer trust beauty as a serious means of investigation. But it can be ... In fact, beauty can be incendiary; it can be subversive; it can make us cringe.
-- David Maisel, Photographer
"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it." -- Anais Nin
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders of the universe, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.” -- Rachel Carson