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Open Access Publications from the University of California


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These photographs are acts of engagement with the nonhuman world, in forms that reflect the entanglement of the organic and the synthetic. In the Halophilic 2 series, I use polarized light to illuminate salt crystals, chasing color effects that activate the imagination. The colors come from the interaction of light and plastic: layers of various disposable, transparent plastics are put to use as retarders, standing between the crystals and the light source. As a result, the salt and plastic collaborate in refraction to create shimmering constellations and uncanny, gravity-defying spaces. In our time, salt and plastic are everywhere humans are, and most of the places where we are not. These are materials that have thoroughly permeated the physical earth, enmeshing all its creatures. As familiar and close at hand as salt is, imagery of it abounds in cultural expression, from the enigmatic to the mundane. Plastics have become as inevitable as salt, and nowhere near as benign. What kind of poetics do we have for a world that is infused with plastics at every level? What kinds of stories could possibly fit the world we are creating now?

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