WATERWORLD
 
is a statement referenced to the worlds polluted waterways, and intends to prompt us to consider the moral and environmental consequences of mangrove habitat loss, continued fouling of the worlds oceans and rivers.

By looking at coastal mangrove forests, wetlands, shrimping farms, industrial coastal wasteland, beaches and river estuaries, and finding elements within these environments which when viewed through the carefully selected lens (I have chosen one focal length for the entire project- NO PHOTOSHOP RETOUCHING) which in some images causes a warped sense of scale, I seek to create the illusion we are looking down on an imaginary Tolkein-esque world.

Natual anomolies I find within these eco systems, most notably the mangrove plant and tree roots, I see robed tribes and other creatures immersed in a struggle for survival within this ‘water inundated realm’.  Within this liquid morass the ‘tribes’ constantly wander in pursuit of a better, dryer life.  They quarrel. There are wars! There is struggle.

Ultimately I'm using the innocuous mangrove and focusing on the incongruity of form and offer a visual analogy to drive the message that humanity could end up in a lawless, much depleted terrifying world if we continue on our current trajectory of environmental destruction.

 

 

Waterworld
RICHARD MARK DOBSON Waterworld Hahnemuhle PhotoRag BrightWhite 310gsm 100% Cotton acid free
The Towers of Ethane
2015-2017
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I begin my series WATERWORLD with an image that could be chosen for a book cover if I can find a publisher to give this work greater exposure. I call this ‘The Towers of Ethane. Ethane-Methane. Methane gas. Formed from the decomposition of plant and animal matter, such as occurs under water, which produces marsh gas, another name for methane.

Methane is one of the most plentiful organic compounds on Earth but even though it's everywhere, you would never know it's there, as methane is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It harbors huge potential as a fuel, but also poses a major threat to the climate.

It’s a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide, the primary driver of human-induced climate change, and its heat-trapping effects are even stronger than those of CO2.

To my mind the Towers of Ethane, suggest a high rise structure similar say to the World Trade Centre, which was a symbol of capitalist decadence and greed. The Towers of Ethane seem to be disappearing into swirling toxic cloud. In reality what you are seeing are pipes that form part of the water pumping mechanism employed to bring fresh sea water in from the adjacent tidal mangrove forests and to pump out the heavily contaminate shrimp pond water.

What we see floating on the surface of this pond is organic matter, including unconsumed shrimp food, detritus, shrimp feaces and bacteria. Environmental problems from shrimp farm effluents are directly related to coastal water pollution and disease.



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The Blue Abyss
2015-2017
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Black holes are points in space that are so dense they create deep gravity sinks. Anything that ventures too close-be it a star, planet or spacecraft-will be stretched and compressed like putty in a theoretical process aptly known as spaghettification. Down here in WaterWorld a similar fate awaits those sucked into the Blue Abyss. A seemingly innocuous pool of aquamarine, it draws the unwary towards its tantalizing colour set against an endless expanse of grey brown mud.

Seen here, weary and sodden WaterWorld inhabitants gather around this blue talisman still oblivious to the danger that is benignly creeping up on them. From above we witness the opaque cloud of suspended sediment, that returns back to the portal, in what is called a mass rotation and charge phenomenon. In effect the inbound currents will drag these hapless souls down into the blue abyss…..


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Black Mud Taketh Her Away
2015-2017
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While drifting slowly and silently by upon my Kayak, down a shallow mangrove creek, at a point where the channel almost tapered off to land I came across a muddy bank with mangrove knee, pencil and cone roots exposed against the surrounding black mud. As I studied one piece of this mosaic of mangrove, I realized I was looking at the representation of acceptance. I saw with absolute clarity, the figure of a young woman, wearing a hat, her head bowed, her arms pulled behind her back as if she was in handcuffs or chains.

She stands braced, yet calm, in a sort of benign acceptance of her fate, awaiting the black mud that will eventually entomb her. In WaterWorld, all inhabitants face a continual struggle against rising waters, flash floods, gurgling, seeping mud and silt that consumes all but the highest of structures. Trapped. With no hope of rescue from a denuded, broken and waterlogged planet. A fate all humanity faces if we don't face up to our environmental responsibilities.

Mangrove systems stabilize and protect coastlines, provide shelter and nutrients of huge numbers of marine life. And yet every year great swathes are cleared for more unneeded beach resorts and condo’s and for shrimp farms to feed the human demand for cheap shrimp that can only be described as a shrimp feeding frenzy!

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Mount Cherusci & Lake Seneca
2015-2017
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Observed from high altitude, Lake Seneca and the Cherusci Monastery appear similar to other famous lakeside temples or monasteries we might know from Geography lessons. Mount St Michel, France comes to mind. Within my analogical narrative I call WaterWorld, lake and monastery compliment each other in this picture postcard perfect composition, lit by mid afternoon sun.

I might add that Mount Cherusci elevated above the surrounding delta has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it: on top, God, the abbey and monastery; below, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.

Algal blooms are the result of an excess of nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) into waters and higher concentrations of these nutrients cause increased growth of algae. As more algae spreads other plants die. This dead organic matter becomes food for bacteria that decompose it. With more food available, the bacteria increases in number and uses up the dissolved oxygen in the water. When the dissolved oxygen content decreases, many fish and aquatic species including plants cannot survive. This results in a dead area.

What you are infact looking at, is a ‘dead area’. The defunct trunk, root stump from a mangrove plant surrounded by deadly alga blooms as a result of the toxic discharge from the adjacent shrimping pond. The shrimping industry encourages the destruction of precious mangrove and in addition pond discharge poisons the mangrove eco system. Etc. Etc.

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Black Delta
2015-2017
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In this image, it is my wish to trick the eye into believing we are looking down from high altitude over a vast river delta system. It reminds me in so many ways of how I have seen the Mekong river, twisting and turning it’s way towards the South China sea across the southern tip of Vietnam, glimpsed from aircraft windows during numerous flights between Penang and Saigon. Views of convoluted muddy brown waters set against the flat expanse of verdant paddy fields.

In the case of the WaterWorld’s, the Black River Delta, we have a more apocalyptic vision of a river system. We see the black river itself, set again damp desert terrain. Sands that are no longer dry; a result of the great planetary inundation process that is pushing underground water levels to the surface. Coupled to relentless rain, the desert hues are dulled down to muddy brown. The toxic black waters cut across this vast expanse of beige.

Enterococci are bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and therefore indicate possible contamination of streams and rivers by fecal waste. Sources of fecal indicator bacteria such as enterococci include wastewater treatment plant effluent, leaking septic systems, storm-water runoff, shrimp farms and sewage discharged or dumped from recreational boats, domestic animal and wildlife waste, improper land application of manure or sewage, and runoff from manure storage areas, pastures, rangelands, feedlots and shrimp farms.


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Orgon burial #1
2015-2017
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Simple headstones at a Thai Muslim cemetery on the Western side of Phuket Island. Yes I call these 6 robed figures, Orgons, they represent one of the tribes known to inhabit WaterWorld. They gather to bury their dead. Those who have succumbed to waterborne disease and drowning, a common occurrence in this world inundated with water....



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Orgon burial #2
2015-2017
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Simple headstones at a Thai Muslim cemetery on the Western side of Phuket Island. Yes I call these 6 robed figures, Orgons, they represent one of the tribes known to inhabit WaterWorld. They gather to bury their dead. Those who have succumbed to waterborne disease and drowning, a common occurrence in this world inundated with water....



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Mud Dragons
2015-2017
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One of the joys of working on this project was how random objects within this evocative Phuket coastal marine eco system, revealed themselves to me as fantastical beings or creatures I envisage to inhabit this imaginary realm I call WaterWorld. We have all been privy to the ‘seeing faces in a cloud’ syndrome, and there are know psychological reasons why people see faces where they don't exist: It's a phenomenon called pareidolia. A form of apophenia, which is a more general term for the human tendency to seek patterns in random information.

To a certain extent, the definition of pareidolia can be used to describe how the ancients connected the dots and came up with the patterns we know as constellations. It does not take a great deal of imagination to see a lion in Leo, a scorpion in Scorpius, or a mighty hunter in Orion.

Well looking across an area of mudflats in Ao Po, along the North Eastern flank of Phuket Island I came across a family of three Mud Dragons on the hunt. The male furthest from camera has noticed some prey out of frame, probably a greatly compromised Togan bogged down in the great swathes of sludge that comprise massive quadrants of WaterWorld, and is now making ready for a strike and kill maneuver.

Up close to camera we have a Mother and juvenile in what looks like parent teaching juvenile hunting tactics. Besides preying on Togans they also eat Payans, Sasians, and Auks.



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Ziplok # 1
2015-2017
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General Ziplok ( an intentional play on words of a brand of plastic storage bags) within the context of natural aquatic environments, even one as troubled as the mythological realm called WaterWorld is bad news. Of all the protagonists within this morality fable, Ziplok who leads a great wandering army sows the most destruction. He, together with his henchmen, a great league of trillions, who drift with him upon tides and currents, represent a great evil dark force that snare, suffocate and strangle the unwary. Due to their synthetic makeup they are virtually indestructible and their presence has profound implications for the eco-systems and all other inhabitants struggling for survival within this liquid morass that is WaterWorld.

Yes Ziplok and his plague of maritime brigands represent an ominous plague that have come into being. Principally due to the divergence from sound ethical and moral practices by a much earlier WaterWorld civilization. The now defunct Homo Sapiens. Their demise and disappearance came about as a result of greed, mass consumerism, an addiction to CO2 and garbage. It was their willingness to jettison much of their ‘industrial output’ into the surrounding environment, in particular the surrounding oceans, which where at one time, at a much lower level. By treating their great ocean larder as a toilet, it was only inevitable that they would seal their fate and a more ominous idealogical group would emerge from the vacuum left in place. Welcome to General Ziplok. He’s planning to be around for the next 10,000 years.


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Ziplok # 2
2015-2017
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General Ziplok ( an intentional play on words of a brand of plastic storage bags) within the context of natural aquatic environments, even one as troubled as the mythological realm called WaterWorld is bad news. Of all the protagonists within this morality fable, Ziplok who leads a great wandering army sows the most destruction. He, together with his henchmen, a great league of trillions, who drift with him upon tides and currents, represent a great evil dark force that snare, suffocate and strangle the unwary. Due to their synthetic makeup they are virtually indestructible and their presence has profound implications for the eco-systems and all other inhabitants struggling for survival within this liquid morass that is WaterWorld.

Yes Ziplok and his plague of maritime brigands represent an ominous plague that have come into being. Principally due to the divergence from sound ethical and moral practices by a much earlier WaterWorld civilization. The now defunct Homo Sapiens. Their demise and disappearance came about as a result of greed, mass consumerism, an addiction to CO2 and garbage. It was their willingness to jettison much of their ‘industrial output’ into the surrounding environment, in particular the surrounding oceans, which where at one time, at a much lower level. By treating their great ocean larder as a toilet, it was only inevitable that they would seal their fate and a more ominous idealogical group would emerge from the vacuum left in place. Welcome to General Ziplok. He’s planning to be around for the next 10,000 years.


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Tsunami aftermath. Seiche
2015-2017
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I came across this image on a strip of sand affronting a village on the North Eastern flank of Phuket island. A strong tidal surge must have washed a large quantity of builders bricks onto this section of mudflats, dotted with mangrove pencil roots.

Bricks that had been randomly scattered, many or most of them half buried in the mud in such a way, that as I stood and looked at what lay before me, I saw not bricks at all, but rather an aerial view of a small town that looked like it had been hit by something akin to a tsunami. I saw devastation and destruction. It reminded me of news images I had seen of places in Indonesia, Japan or elsewhere, flattened and scraped into a hodgepodge of dilapidated homes and buildings.


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Lost Togan Mother with Child
2015-2017
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The Barbrian Trenches
2015-2017
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A play on words. Barbarian and barbed. A title that morphed out of looking at this section of mangrove pencil roots and sand. In this case the roots, bristle-like in appearance, set against a gently undulating mud, contours shaped by the retreating tides, remind me not of figures dotting a landscape but more of punji sticks, stingers and caltrops.

Sharpened spikes set to snare the enemy. Used with devastating effect in the Vietnam war.

While the high viewpoint over the trenches has an intrinsic beauty, in the tan hues mixed with swatches of Prussian blue, oil residue particles which have collected in the troughs and boughs of this rippled landscape, nevertheless the Barbarian trenches represent menace to all inhabitants of WaterWorld. Great danger. Uncertainty. Risk.

I think we all agree that climate change, and with it the predicted rise in sea temperatures which will encourage an increase in adverse weather, violent storms and typhoons, in addition the anticipated rising of sea levels from melting of the polar ice caps represent danger, uncertainty and risk. Ultimately the risk of our own demise.

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The Badlandia Steppes
2015-2017
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Once again, a play on words. Steppes. Those are my footprints in the smooth and dense mud. I felt like i was walking in a bed of cream caramel. My deep footprints remind me of subsurface lairs or caverns that strange WaterWorld creatures might lurk.

I have chosen to present this image today, simply because it has a haunting beauty about it.

Something about the sharp dark pencil roots that protrude from the soggy sticky surface. The spikes remind me of punji sticks. The punji stick or punji stake is a type of booby trapped spike made out of wood or bamboo, sharpened and heated, usually deployed in substantial numbers. Used with such devastating effect during the Vietnam war. The pencil roots sharp pointed appearance is a visual metaphor. Danger, risk. Proceed with caution.

Does not 'proceed with caution' apply to humanities trajectory of expotential growth.

To borrow from the words of the Guardian environmental journalist, George Monbiot, I quote ‘Economic growth is the aggregate effect of the quest to accumulate capital and extract profit. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity.

A system based on perpetual growth cannot function without peripheries and externalities. There must always be an extraction zone – from which materials are taken without full payment – and a disposal zone, where costs are dumped in the form of waste and pollution. As the scale of economic activity increases until capitalism affects everything, from the atmosphere to the deep ocean floor, the entire planet becomes a sacrifice zone: we all inhabit the periphery of the profit-making machine’.

The human footprints we see impregnating the soft undulating mud, treading gingerly between the puni sticks, is the metaphor. Enter the Badlandia Steppes. Danger, risk. Proceed with caution.


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Sinkhole. The Badlandia Steppes
2015-2017
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Plains of Vileness #1
2015-2017
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In the port and industrial area of Tambon Ratsada, Amphoe Mueang, Phuket, I came across a 30m long patch of stagnant water and mud. A heavily polluted eddy of the Tha Chin creek. It’s black fetid water meandering through an area of godowns, truck mechanic workshops, spray paint depots and scruffy residences. The oily black liquid of the creek gurgled out into the nearby litter strewn bay on the Eastern flank of the island abutting Old Phuket town.

This cesspool before me, was covered in a green slime. In effect algae feeding off the rotting matter that was mulched into the sludge. There was a very strong ammonia smell rising off this toxic brew. Hmm I thought. Interesting.

I looked long and hard at this scene before me and used my powers of pareidolia and apophenia to determine that in actual fact, I was looking across a very large tract of land. Many kilometers in length. An enormous swathe seen from a high altitude vantage point. Possibly from a winged WaterWorld dragon or some other airborne contraption. As I gazed down upon this beautiful meadowland with its picture postcard hills and sparkling lakes, the sight reminded me of landscapes not unlike I had seen flying over central Vietnam or Thailand. Even Britain for that matter. We know how green England can be.

But then I came back to my senses. This was no enchanting scene at all but was in fact the notorious Plains of Vileness. A realm so toxic, so imbued with great thermals of nitrogen and hydrogen that any poor WaterWorld acolyte foolish enough to attempt a crossing, would succumb to the symptoms of burning eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Resulting in blindness, lung damage and death….

Now let’s ponder for a moment what noxious gases we humans actually spew into the atmosphere on a yearly basis. Just a modest 45 billion tons. Now that is what we might call just plain foolish.

Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gases most responsible for global warming — were on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little-to-no growth, a study released Monday found.

Global emissions from all human activities reached an all-time record 45 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, the study revealed.The report by the Global Carbon Project team dashed hopes that emissions had peaked. “We hoped that we had turned the corner … We haven’t,” said study co-author Rob Jackson of Stanford University.



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Plains of Vileness & Lake Slime
2015-2017
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In the port and industrial area of Tambon Ratsada, Amphoe Mueang, Phuket, I came across a 30m long patch of stagnant water and mud. A heavily polluted eddy of the Tha Chin creek. It’s black fetid water meandering through an area of godowns, truck mechanic workshops, spray paint depots and scruffy residences. The oily black liquid of the creek gurgled out into the nearby litter strewn bay on the Eastern flank of the island abutting Old Phuket town.

This cesspool before me, was covered in a green slime. In effect algae feeding off the rotting matter that was mulched into the sludge. There was a very strong ammonia smell rising off this toxic brew. Hmm I thought. Interesting.

I looked long and hard at this scene before me and used my powers of pareidolia and apophenia to determine that in actual fact, I was looking across a very large tract of land. Many kilometers in length. An enormous swathe seen from a high altitude vantage point. Possibly from a winged WaterWorld dragon or some other airborne contraption. As I gazed down upon this beautiful meadowland with its picture postcard hills and sparkling lakes, the sight reminded me of landscapes not unlike I had seen flying over central Vietnam or Thailand. Even Britain for that matter. We know how green England can be.

But then I came back to my senses. This was no enchanting scene at all but was in fact the notorious Plains of Vileness. A realm so toxic, so imbued with great thermals of nitrogen and hydrogen that any poor WaterWorld acolyte foolish enough to attempt a crossing, would succumb to the symptoms of burning eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. Resulting in blindness, lung damage and death….

Now let’s ponder for a moment what noxious gases we humans actually spew into the atmosphere on a yearly basis. Just a modest 45 billion tons. Now that is what we might call just plain foolish.

Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gases most responsible for global warming — were on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little-to-no growth, a study released Monday found.

Global emissions from all human activities reached an all-time record 45 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, the study revealed.The report by the Global Carbon Project team dashed hopes that emissions had peaked. “We hoped that we had turned the corner … We haven’t,” said study co-author Rob Jackson of Stanford University.



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Labyrinth of Carcinus
2015-2017
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Carcinus is a gutweed jungle! A vast subsurface maze of algal seaweed or grass kelp as it’s commonly called. One has to have a lot of guts to venture into this green zone. It’s not called the green zone because it’s safe however! Quite the contrary.

Within these dense forests of soft gently billowing and bubbling jade grasses lurks danger. One such hazard is the great Dengiz Qisqichbaqasi a creature who has his origins way back in the recesses of antiquity. A fiend of devilish cunning and either a friend or foe depending on whether WaterWorlders show allegiance to the Queen Almighty Mangrovia. You see the Great Dengiz, aligns himself with Mangrovia’s doctrines which include; protection for all. Food for all. Those who seek to destroy Mangrovia’s ideology and presence, have to deal with Dengiz and his army of clawed cohorts, who prey upon the ignorant, selfish and greedy.



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The Rancid Plateau #1
2015-2017
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Waterworld, 90% of it’s surface water logged. But there are a few dry lands. The drylands however are no more welcoming in their dryness as the rest of Waterworld is in its wetness. Opposites don’t attract. These are polarities of disparities. Climate change is a complex phenomenon. Dry regions become wetter, wet regions become dryer.

This black and oily mud is the base of a drained shrimping pond. Most probably because of a contamination issue. My rubber boots broke through the thin oily upper layer and sank down into the chocolate mousse like mud below, a rancid and highly nauseating ammonia like stench rose to greet my nostrils. One can clearly see the rainbow colours that shimmer of the black mud. An indication of the toxicity of this environment. The shrimping industry is highly controversial. One that for many is a major cause of mangrove destruction and coastal seawater contamination.

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The Rancid Plateau #2
2015-2017
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Waterworld, 90% of it’s surface water logged. But there are a few dry lands. The drylands however are no more welcoming in their dryness as the rest of Waterworld is in its wetness. Opposites don’t attract. These are polarities of disparities. Climate change is a complex phenomenon. Dry regions become wetter, wet regions become dryer.

What looks like the remains of a Roman centurion or Legionnaire toward the bottom right corner of the frame, is of course a shrimp carapace husk. That and other deceased and possibly diseased shrimp remains reminded me of piles of sun bleached bones. Similar to cattle bones I have seen around dried up lakes and rivers in Africa.

This black and oily mud is the base of a drained shrimping pond. Most probably because of a contamination issue. My rubber boots broke through the thin oily upper layer and sank down into the chocolate mousse like mud below, a rancid and highly nauseating ammonia like stench rose to greet my nostrils. One can clearly see the rainbow colours that shimmer of the black mud. An indication of the toxicity of this environment. The shrimping industry is highly controversial. One that for many is a major cause of mangrove destruction and coastal seawater contamination.

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Togan Masses
2015-2017
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If you partially close your eye and look at this image, quite possibly you, like me, will see a very large gathering of robed figures. The scene is rather Tolkien-esque. A congregation of Nazgul perhaps? The Nazgûl (from Black Speech nazg, “ring”, and gûl, “wraith, spirit”, possibly related to gul, “sorcery” or a wordplay on “ghoul” ), also called Ringwraiths, Ring-wraiths, Black Riders, Dark Riders are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium.

To be exact, these are the Togans. A thuggish Waterworld tribe, who unlike the peace loving Sasians, are opportunist hunter gathers. They roam the damp dreary valleys and plateaus employing often brutal tactics as they pillage and loot, plundering what little food or resources other communities have managed to scrape together in this much denuded realm called Waterworld. Their aggressive and violent ways intimidate, coerce. They divide and rule. Subjugation is all part of their doctrine. They are seen here gathering together to make camp for the night, congregating in loud and rowdy profusion, rather like wild animals or birds to at dusk.

The mangrove knee root has a strange and fascinating form, and without doubt it was seeing clumps of them at low tide that ignited within me the desire to delve into and explore this fragile eco-system not from a scientific point of view, but from an allegorical one. We all understand the phenomenon of pareidolia and apophenia. That is the human propensity to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. Well without a shadow of doubt, the sight of knee roots in the fading light, with the sound of gurgling mud as tidal sea water either seeping in or out of these precious eco-systems, had a profound effect on me. I felt that I was immersed very much in the world of The Hobbit.

As an 10 year old at primary school in England, Lord of the Rings was read to us by a Mr Royal, a teacher we all loved dearly. He poured so much passion into reciting each chapter through the winter of 1973, that we all became infatuated by little Bilbo Baggins.

Yes the childhood imaginings have definitely crept into the personal psychology embedded in this series I call Waterworld.

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Togan refugees crawl forth hoping to find dryer terrain
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Sasian Chief
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Auks
2015-2017
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Auks are without doubt the most sinister looking of all the Waterworld tribes. Possibly it has something to do with their beady red eyes. And yet, surprisingly they are not dangerous at all. They behave like big clumsy children, and spend much of their time arguing among themselves. Their social behavior is more akin to a troop of baboons than anything human-like. If anyone has observed baboons in the wild, one will have witnessed a lot of prancing about, waving of arms, beating of chests and plenty of rabble rousing shouts, hollers and screams.

Auks behave in a similar way. Lots of noise and bravado. Auks, unlike Baboons who are creatures that inhabit rocky or forest clad landscapes, forage along shorelines. Similar to the ancient coastal dwelling peoples of Southern Africa.

The so called Strandlopers (beach walkers). A Khoikhoi-derived people who lived by hunting and gathering food along the beaches of south-western Africa, originally from the Cape Colony to the Skeleton Coast.

Most Strandloper communities did not persist in the face of demographic and economic changes occurring in southern and south-western Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries, and eventually disappeared.

We might add a third influence to this list of reasons for the demise of an entire race of peoples. That of environmental change. Let’s add climate change into the mix. Let’s imagine for one moment that the Strandlopers had not fallen victim to the changes wrought upon them in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

That they had managed to survive, last another 100 years as an intact community, only to be taken out by the perils of climate change and it’s associated mass extinctions, ecological catastrophe, unleashed upon them in the 21st century.

Auks are too simple minded to be aware of the grave situation they find themselves in. They just muddle on, scavenge, fratch and fall out. They are the ignorant of the Waterworld. The analogy for how many modern humans today are willing to bury their heads in the sand over issues of climate change and the existential threat of rising sea levels.

They like the Auks will just muddle on until it’s too late. The Auks are not the survivors in this parable. They are just living on borrowed time……


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Togan Spy
2015-2017
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He is a Togan, a member of one of the more sinister tribes that inhabit WaterWorld. Within the context of this image, he has cunningly ingratiated himself with a wandering tribe of Sasians, a group known for their peace loving ways.

By concocting a convincing tale; one that implies he wants to abandon the evil ways of the Togans, motivated he stated, “by the abduction of his wife by a renegade band of Togan militia”. He came forward, down on his knees, begging for mercy and a chance to cleanse himself of the dark side.

All he wanted to do now he cried, “was join the peace crusaders and the let the light of joy beam down and cleanse his tormented soul”. The Sasians with their good nature, took pity on this individual they saw as a bedraggled and mortified lost individual and invited him into the clan. Unbeknown to them, he has been sent to spy within their ranks.

Still on the subject of pareidolia, a form of apophenia, which is a more general term for the human tendency to seek pattern in random information, within the context of my own interpretation of what I see in this mangrove knee root section, gives rise to this overly imaginative paragraph above.

For when I look at this section of mangrove knee root, this is what I see;

I see a hunched figure, wearing a torn and tattered trench coat. The Togan’s snout is seen at the front of the elongated pale head, his eye situated further up the with his pupil looking back,. Because of this it gives him a creepy suspicious appearance that suggest to me someone up to no good. Then at the rear of his head in line with his eye is his small ear.

I see clearly his shoulder (with small blue dot that is this undershirt showing through the tear in the trench coast sleeve). His right arm then is pulled across his front and his hands tucked into the low deep pockets of his coat. This guy reminds me of a character out of Mad Max.


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Sasian Women & Children
2015-2017
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Sasians are the most peace loving of the Waterworld tribes and their women the most stylishly dressed. As stylish as one can be anyway, living in a world that is 99% water logged. Damp, dreary and very wet.

Sasians tend to stay in one place and attempt to make do with what can be found nearby. They ingeniously mine and collect sand in areas that are semi-tidal, practicing a kind of primitive land fill operation.

Building something akin to a sandbar, that is raised above sea level. As the sea level rises, the higher they build the sandbar. It’s a system that provides them with a prolonged survival timeline, but merely a short term fix for a long term and serious problem. That of rising sea levels. Regardless of the pending doom, the womenfolks like to look elegant for the time they have left in Waterworld.

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The Battle of Ojah Delta #1
2015-2017
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I call this image The Battle of Ojah delta, simply because to my mind this image of tightly knit clumps of fine pencil roots, looks like a scene from the battle of Agincourt, or probably more apt, a famous battle from the Lord of the Rings. Battle of Dagorlad for example, when the Last Alliance destroyed Sauron’s main force. A battle between Hundreds of thousands of Men of Gondor and Arnor. Hundreds of thousands of Elves of Lindon, Rivendell, Lothlórien, and the Woodland Realm.

Yes at the Battle of the Ojah Delta we see a melee of lances, spears, clubs, pikes and other ghastly implements of war. Looking at this image I can hear the metal on metal clang mixed into the screams and shouts of a myriad men as they claw, stab and cleave each other into bits and pieces.

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The Battle of Ojah Delta #2
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Towers of Gamot #1 Plains of ájá ájá
2015-2017
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Towers of Gamot #2 Plains of ájá ájá
2015-2017
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An aerial view of the towers of Gamot East, the less densely populated prefecture of greater Gamot. Home to the peaceful and agrarian focused Sasians, a WaterWorld tribe which harvest the green morská riasa, a naturally occurring seaweed that floats in and out of the ájá ájá delta on rising and falling tides.

This fibrous algae is harvested and cultivated for the extraction of polysaccharides such as alginate, agar and carrageenan, which as the primary Sasian diet provides the community with adequate intake of calories, proteins, fat. Enough to stave of mass starvation and ensure their survival in this world, a realm which although inundated by water, contains zero crustacean or fish populations, due to the great extinction caused by what is now know as the Anthropocene period. Or the age of humans. This very same substance is woven into clothing and even used as buttressing for structures deemed unstable, as can be seen foreground supporting towers Isa (left) and Dalawa (right)


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Towers of Gamot #3 Plains of ájá ájá
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Towers of Gamot- Plains of ájá ájá
2015-2017
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Here we see a lone mangrove pencil root surrounded by the soft grey sand associated with this corner of Phuket island. The fine filigree trails carved in the mud, spermatozoa like, created by the movement of tiny sand crabs, adds an intriguing pattern to the surface that takes on the appearance of something otherworldly. The surface of Waterworld for example.

I call this the Tower of Gamot, situated on the plains of aja aja. (Aja aja by the way is the Nigerian Igbo word for sandy plain)

Actually our tower of Gamot looks devilishly like Orthanc the black, grey impenetrable tower of Isengard built by the Dúnedain, during the Great Years and the War of the Ring, controlled by the wizard Saruman the White, standing in the center of the Ring of Isengard, from Lord of the Rings.

Part of an excerpt of the tower, as described by JRR Tolkien reads as such ‘There stood a tower of marvelous shape. It was fashioned by the builders of old, who smoothed the Ring of Isengard, and yet it seemed a thing not made by the craft of Men, but riven from the bones of the earth in the ancient torment of the hills’.

The story of Isengard goes on…. ‘only months later, the Ents of Fangorn Forest launched their attack on Isengard. By the next day, only the tower of Orthanc remained, as it was hewn of one piece of impenetrable rock, and the plains below had been completely destroyed, leaving a desolate land of water and mud.

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The Breosladís Army #1
2015-2017
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The Breosladís Armies #2
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üleujutus #3
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The Crucifix
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I guess there is no real need to explain what his image is about.  I call it The Crucifix.  It makes sense to me given the shape of this rather small, undernourished looking sprig of a red mangrove tree. It’s a rather pitiful image.  And we know why. 

The small pencil roots that peep out of the sand around it, to my mind, represent the Waterworld pilgrims that come to the Crucifix to pay homage to the The Great Mangrovia.  She’s been crucified.  Actually gagged and choked.

Yes everywhere they walk (the pilgrims of Waterworld) and everywhere I walk (the chronicler of this environmental catastrophe) within this Phuket mangrove eco-system we are confronted by layers of plastic waste. 

Plastic that is for all intents and purposes like an alien substance sent from an alien planet by an alien species.  Sent to choke the life out of all of life forms found within this fragile marine environment.   Hence the deep need for prayer.  Prayer for help.  Salvation from the tyranny of this scourge called plastic. 

A great man made poison, dumped in such profusion into the liquid morass that is Waterworld.  The stats make you gip & gulp.  We must surely choke on the absurdity of it all….


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The God Idol STYRACIFLUA
2015-2017
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A bass relief in crumbling styrofoam. Yes the false God idol Styaricflua is en effigy of decay. A statue in honor of mankind’s love for synthetic. Plastic worship. Polymer wrap. Nothing is permanent in this fluid realm we call Waterworld. With gentle flow, or violent surges, whatever it is, eventually, it’s reduced to particles by the relentless movement of energy through the matrix of water. In the case of Styraciflua, as the tide rises and falls, pea sized foam balls dislodge and float away to congeal elsewhere. Often in the stomachs of strange looking Waterworld sea creatures that live beyond the horizon…..

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The Fountain of Pity
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Yes plastics are everywhere in the environment. They are even considered to be a geological marker of the Anthropocene, or the Age of Humans: plastic is a new type of material that will be encapsulated in rocks all over the planet, for future geologists to study as a marker of the current geological time period, in which human activity has become the dominant influence on the environment.

The plastic contamination I found within the mangrove eco-systems I explored, I decided had to be added as another layer to the narrative. While I saw the organic living structures of the mangrove plants and roots to predominantly represent the ’tribes’ the inhabitants of Waterworld, I looked upon plastic debris as a way to suggest civic structures or entities.

I call this image, 'The Fountain of Pity'. In a more pristine, revered world, a civic fountain is an object of beauty. It is a source of cool fresh invigorating drinking water. Not so in WaterWorld. Here the inhabitants gather around this civic disgrace, gurgling it's insipid black toxic water. They mingle and socialize, say like Romans might do around the Trevi Fountains, while the WaterWorlders are accepting of it's noxious presence. Plastic. What plastic? A bit like humans today stroll across plastic littered beaches and hardly notice the mess. Act almost as if it's perfectly natural today to sit on garbage strewn sand.


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The Civic Centre
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Phanagoria # 1
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Specular highlights at the point where the disk of the sun, reflected in miniature as a pin prick of light, at that junction where liquid and solid matter meet, makes for a compelling image indeed. What I see here is a small hamlet at night, viewed from up high, like I have seen dots of light from an aircraft flying over the open expanses of Africa on my many night flights between London and Johannesburg. Rural African villages lit by sparse street lamps. Or Asian villages too, on islands in the Sulu sea or the Philippine archipelago.

There is something enigmatic about the ziggy zaggy reflections of light play that splash on the blue sky watery surface, contrasting beautifully with the complementary hues of beige, soft browns. Yellows. Simply just sunlight splaying off a sandy sea bed.

This image is whimsical, theatrical, and to my mind speaks of antiquity. But all we are viewing are mangrove pencil roots in late afternoon sun. My intentional underexposure of the image, giving us that classic day for night cinematic look, a technique that is as old as film making itself, the scene beckons me to consider much more than just roots in water. Yes I see a strange medieval village. Or maybe I don’t see a village at all! Maybe I see tall and skinny cloaked figures in moonlight, holding lanterns.

Regardless this is all a figment of my imagination, yet a realm that makes me ponder and question the absurdity of destroying mangroves for shrimping farms to feed the gluttony of human kind.

Once upon a time the earth was a veritable garden of Eden, inhabited by pragmatic people who cohabited with their environment. Unlike the peoples of today who inhibit the natural order, degrade their natural habitats on a scale that has never been seen before. And in so doing, ultimately inhibit themselves. Become the unhabited!

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Allejan Vallis
2015-2017
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Allejan Vallis
2015-2017
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Allejan Vallis
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Ojah Delta
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You see that little black speck left of frame? Well it’s not leaf clutter. He is a Sasian. One of the many tribes of Waterworld. He’s been separated from his clan and now probes the reaches of the Ojah delta, hoping to pick up their spoor. Footprints that will lead him back home. He stands on the edge of a raised sandbank, contemplating the speed and intensity of the currents that ripple down this tributary of the Ojah river. All around him is the vastness of the Ojah delta. A forlorn and denuded place. Not a speck of green. Not an inch of tree cover or vegetation to protect him from the harshness of light and temperature. Not a single living species to nourish him. There is no food at all. No shelter. Just an endless expanse of rock, sand and water. He feels vulnerable.

vulnerable |ˈvəln(ə)rəb(ə)l| adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm: we were in a vulnerable position | small fish are vulnerable to predators.

Interesting the dictionary description of vulnerable. ‘susceptible to physical or emotional attachment or harm’.

Feeling vulnerable is a state of mind surely. Whether lost in the desert or in this case the Ojah delta, we feel a rising sense of panic. Panic is a mind set. Our mind wants to encourage us to run. Run towards an imaginary escape hatch. But we also know that to run in this environment would quickly deplete our energies and kill us. This Sasian has to mentally fight off the ‘fight and flight’ impulse.

(The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare the body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety The term ‘fight-or-flight’ represents the choices that our ancient ancestors had when faced with danger in their environment. They could either fight or flee. In either case, the physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger).

Our Sasian has to fight off the mental urge to panic over the thought that he is inextricably heading towards his own extinction. It is just a matter of time. The environment he finds himself in will ultimately destroy him. Mind control is the only way to prolong his life. He may survive if he slows down his mental picture. Suppresses the urge to panic.

In the case of humanity today, slowing down the rate of bio-diversity loss, and reducing the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere, therefore reducing the rate of severe climate change with corresponding catastrophic consequences, might speed up our chance of survival and slow down our rate of extinction.

For this Sasian trapped in the watery morass that is Waterworld, wise choices he makes now, will have far reaching effects on his future survival.

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Togan Clan
2015-2017
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If you partially close your eye and look at this image, quite possibly you, like me, will see a very large gathering of robed figures. The scene is rather Tolkien-esque. A congregation of Nazgul perhaps? The Nazgûl (from Black Speech nazg, “ring”, and gûl, “wraith, spirit”, possibly related to gul, “sorcery” or a wordplay on “ghoul” ), also called Ringwraiths, Ring-wraiths, Black Riders, Dark Riders are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium.

To be exact, these are the Togans. A thuggish Waterworld tribe, who unlike the peace loving Sasians, are opportunist hunter gathers. They roam the damp dreary valleys and plateaus employing often brutal tactics as they pillage and loot, plundering what little food or resources other communities have managed to scrape together in this much denuded realm called Waterworld. Their aggressive and violent ways intimidate, coerce. They divide and rule. Subjugation is all part of their doctrine. They are seen here gathering together to make camp for the night, congregating in loud and rowdy profusion, rather like wild animals or birds to at dusk.

The mangrove knee root has a strange and fascinating form, and without doubt it was seeing clumps of them at low tide that ignited within me the desire to delve into and explore this fragile eco-system not from a scientific point of view, but from an allegorical one. We all understand the phenomenon of pareidolia and apophenia. That is the human propensity to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. Well without a shadow of doubt, the sight of knee roots in the fading light, with the sound of gurgling mud as tidal sea water either seeping in or out of these precious eco-systems, had a profound effect on me. I felt that I was immersed very much in the world of The Hobbit.

As an 10 year old at primary school in England, Lord of the Rings was read to us by a Mr Royal, a teacher we all loved dearly. He poured so much passion into reciting each chapter through the winter of 1973, that we all became infatuated by little Bilbo Baggins.

Yes the childhood imaginings have definitely crept into the personal psychology embedded in this series I call Waterworld.


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Togan Militia #1
2015-2017
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Togan #2
2015-2017
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Gorge of 1000 Serpents
2015-2017
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Swamped Souls
2015-2017
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The Breosladís Pipeline
2015-2017
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Robed Boglandian Pilgrims
2015-2017
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Ravaged Ridge
2015-2017
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Grim Peaks
2015-2017
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Paya pilgrims beside Lake Agassiz #2
2015-2017
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Paya pilgrims beside Lake Agassiz #3
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Paya pilgrims beside Lake Agassiz #5
2015-2017
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Vindhya Bridge besides Lake Agassiz.
2015-2017
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Lake Agassiz
2015-2017
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