Archive for mines

Minescape at FORMAT

Posted in Minescape, Personal with tags , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by brettvanort

Just a few days to go before my project, Minescape, shows at FORMAT festival in Derby.  I’ve delivered the work to the Silk Mill Museum and the work should be hung at this point.  One show down and one more to go.  I’ve settled on a framer at this point for my London show and the work should be completed before I go to Derby for the preview date; March 3, 2011.

Forest-Trebevic © Brett Van Ort

Whether or not I’m happy with the framing for the London show will remain to be seen until then.  I’m a bit anxious having to find another place to frame the work, as the design and function of the frames are intergal to the final product.

I’ve been asked by the curator of my show at FORMAT to display instructions on how to operate the frames.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to with hold myself from doing, i.e. explaining to the audience how to interact with the work, but the general consensus from the people at FORMAT is that a brief set of instructions is necessary.  I always felt that if the frames aren’t operated, then the audience “walks” into these fields not knowing what lies beneath.  However, the majority of those at FORMAT feel the entirety of the work must be seen.

You can follow this link here to see my page on the FORMAT website.

Also, FYI, I will be delivering a talk in Derby on my work on March 23 from 2pm.  Info is available here.

I’ll be speaking about the project and how a painting by Fredrich Edwin Church and the destruction of my family farm in Tennessee influenced my thoughts and ideas about the project.



Posted in Minescape with tags , , , on February 4, 2010 by brettvanort

I have mines up in Fort Collins, Colorado for a while.  They will be there until February 13.  The artist opening will be tomorrow the 5th of February but the work has been up for a while.

Former Yugoslavian PROM Mine

Made it onto the Center’s blog yesterday though.  You can find it here.

You can view all the work at the exhibition here.


Posted in Hopi with tags , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by brettvanort

It was a first.  A single engine light aircraft photography flight.  I was insanely nervous.  I’d been up in helicopters to do this before but nothing quite like this, there was no hovering or stopping allowed.  I was in a single engine light aircraft that would do no less than 100 knots.  I had a hole in the cockpit the size of a grapefruit to stick the lens out.  I learned quickly what I could and could not do.  I was given a headset and told to direct my pilot Hal to wherever I wanted to go above the Hopi range and the Black Mesa coal mine.  Our round trip flight would be roughly two hours.  I had our first tentative day scrubbed by low lingering cloud cover.  On our second attempt, a week later, we managed to have a beautiful start to the day.  We got off the ground a little later than I wanted but I still had some nice low light to work with for much of the shoot.

The size of the mine was hard to capture.

My first attempt to put my 70-200 with a 2x outside the window and my lens slammed into the side of the window due to wind drag.  I had to contend with not only the wind but the wing of the aircraft as well.  I was hoping for a Cessna style craft with the wing coming out from the top of the aircraft and yet here I was having to shoot around the wing which on this aircraft protruded from underneath the fuselage.  Whenever I wanted to photograph something it involved coordinating with the pilot to execute a steep turn that would enable the wing to dip out of my frame.

Two large strips in the earth.

Once I got past fighting the wind and the wing I had to figure out how to shoot from the air.  The different perspective posed its problems as well.  In some ways it was similar to shooting on the ground though.  I was surprised that I needed my 24-70 and even my 16-35 in some cases.  I envisioned myself only using my telephoto zoom but it barely made it out of my bag.  In retrospect I was photographing something massive: the largest strip coal mine in the U.S., so why or what would I need to be taking closeups of?  I thought that at 2000 to 3000 feet in altitude I would need to be tighter than normal.  In some respects yes, but ultimately to give what I was photographing perspective, I needed the horizon, and that kept me from using long lenses.

One time my 200mm actually gave some perspective

But in the above photo I was still able to use my 200mm lens and still achieve a sense of scale.  You can obviously see the large crane with Peabody’s name emblazoned on the side, but did you manage to see the “normal” sized front end loader in the bottom left of frame?  That should tell you about how big these massive cranes are.  Supposedly they are constructed on-site as they are so big there is no way to transport them.


Posted in Hopi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by brettvanort

My first trip to Black Mesa was on the ground.  I knew I would be able to view it from the air but I wanted to see what kind of access I could have on the ground.  This mine is also known as Kayenta, there is a town nearby with the same name.  Peabody Coal Company began strip mine operations in 1968.  It is the largest strip mine in the United States.  It was shut for several years from 2006 to 2008 because of depletion of the water table underneath the mesa, but mining resumed as in the last days of the Bush administration and ordinance was passed to allow for the reopening of one of the two strip mines.  These mines feed the Navajo Plant in Page, which I recently showed work from on the blog, and the now shut Mohave Plant in Laughlin, NV.

An even safer mine might be shut?

The Mohave Plant required the construction of a 273 mile slurry pipeline so coal could be shipped to the plant.  Pulverized Coal would be mixed with water to make slurry which would then in turn be shipped to the plant.  Upon receiving the slurry the coal is filtered from the water out and disposed of.  There is no way for the slurried coal water to be reclaimed or reused.  It is waste and disposed of as such.  Now that the Mohave plant has shut the amount of water usage has decreased but as with an energy production, much with agricultural production, water is the lifeline.  So with the re-opening of the plant the water is again being used and the aquifer depleted.

Here a conveyor starts the shipment of mined coal to a location off the mesa.

The complete closure of the mine would stop the depletion of the water table but it would also put anywhere from 600 to 800 Navajo out of work in a region where there are hardly any well-paid, skilled jobs.  Because of this the mine is a contentious issue.

The terminus of the coal conveyor near Federal Highway 160

The coal conveyor above still operates and ships coal to the coal silo where coal is stored.  It is now shipped via Railroad to the Navajo plant in Page, NV.  In the next few days I’ll post some of what I saw from the air.  What is supposed to be a “small” operation that supports only the Navajo Plant looked to my eyes to be large, expansive and larger than expected.

The pieces…in action…

Posted in Minescape with tags , , , , on January 8, 2010 by brettvanort

Here’s the final product.

How to??

Posted in Minescape with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by brettvanort

How to merge these two.  It’s killing me.  I can’t for the life of me figure it out.  I’ve tried everything.  Mines on the floor.  Mines below the landscapes.  Mines next to the landscapes.  The only thing that makes sense is to put the mines behind the landscape.  It’s going to be a bitch to try and do, but I have to try.

Here’s my plan:

This is going to cost a fortune!

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