Wildfires Project Information
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“These images engage the mind, heart, and senses at once – bringing us into the cataclysm of runaway fire through unexpected pathways that avoid sensationalism.”
- Miranda Massie, Director, Climate Museum
Since 2011 I have been working daily on a long-term project, an anecdotal archive, functioning as memory, recording, encoding, and storing milestones of incremental climate change. Nestled within this greater process-based series, the photographs of Wildfire began appearing unexpectedly, again revealing accumulations emerging over time, but now through the smoke from fires both local and global over the last 5 years.
Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, where I live, has had intense periods of smoke blanket the city since 2017. That year saw a total of 12,161 square kilometres incinerated by the end of the fire season, at the time the largest total area burned in the province’s history. A state of emergency was declared on July 7th and extended 4 times, eventually lasting through September 15th to become the longest in provincial history.
The summer of 2018 saw unprecedented wildfire events around the globe: fires broke out north of the Arctic Circle, California had both the first and second largest fires in their history, Greece had the second deadliest wildfires this century, and smoke from fires burning in Siberia crossed to North America affecting both the US and Canada. Here in British Columbia, it surpassed 2017 with a greater number of fires overall and a larger total area burned. Wildfire smoke left some areas in the province with the worst air quality in the world with alerts issued as far away as Prince Edward Island on Canada's east coast, over 4000 km away.
2020 experienced another record-breaking wildfire season stretching through California, Oregon, and Washington states. air currents pushed the smoke north from the USA and from September 12th through 14th Vancouver (100 km from Victoria), saw its air quality reach the worst levels of any major city on the globe. The smoke drifted across North America and could eventually be seen as far away as Northern Europe - over 8,000 km away.
As I write on this 18th day of July in 2022, as the forests around the planet continue to dry with ever-increasing heat, combust, and vapourize, as western Europe endures a “heat apocalypse” and burns uncontrollably, I expect the end of this project will arrive only at the end of my endurance to witness and record this furnace of our own making.
Welcome to the Pyrocene...
"Accomplished, effective, highly coherent as a body of work. And very ambitious."
- Jury, Prefix Prize 2022
“The dichotomy of something beautiful walking hand in hand with the ugly truth is a reality with which I am yet again invited to halt, think, re-think, and change.”
- Jury member Joseph Calleja for Points of Return
"Wonderful alignment of message and method in beautiful images laden with poignancy and despair."
- Jury, Critical Mass 2022