Clear Water Sample: La Jolla Cove, CA, 2011
In Werner Herzog’s “The Truth of the Ocean,” he describes two members of the Peruvian Machiguengas tribe visiting the sea for the very first time:
“They went silent and looked out over the breakers…Then one asked for a bottle. I gave him my empty beer bottle. No, that wasn’t right, it had to be a bottle that you could seal well. So I bought a bottle of cheap Chilean red, had it uncorked, and poured the wine out into the sand. We sent the bottle to the kitchen to be cleaned as carefully as possible. Then the men took the bottle and went, without a word, to the shoreline… They waded, looking over the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, until the water reached their underarms. Then they took a taste of the water, filled the bottle and sealed it carefully with a cork. [It] was their proof for the village that there really was an ocean. I asked cautiously whether it wasn’t just a part of the truth. No, they said, if there is a bottle of seawater, then the whole ocean must be true as well.”
Clear Water Sample: Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, ME, 2012
The series, Clear Water Samples, began two years before reading this essay while traveling up the coast of California photographing borrowed containers filled with the Pacific Ocean. A few weeks later in Northern Italy, I collected water in specimen bottles, a pseudo scientific analysis of whether or not it was clear enough to set an artwork free. Two summers passed and soon there were sixteen samples existing as a physical object or a photograph. No longer where they all from the ocean, rather any lake or pool that was transparent.
Clear Water Sample: Neskowin, OR, 2012
I am from the Pacific Northwest and my relationship with place is defined by clear water. I learned how to swim in cold rivers on hot August days and every family vacation featured a blue expanse as the final destination. Standing on Galveston Island looking into the Gulf of Mexico was my first experience with a brown sea and I was repelled. It was there that I resolved never to touch water I could not see through. Years later, I moved to a Midwestern town where not only are the rivers brown but there are traces of mercury, PCB and E. coli flowing through the streams.
Clear Water Sample: Triple Creek Park, Ucross, WY, 2013
I constantly search for clear water in an attempt to find the places where I belong.
My “truth of the ocean” lies in the fact that it still exists despite my minimal contact. It still elicits wonder and the small part I take away represents the whole of which I must remember.