Sam Doctor’s photographic practice ruminates on humanity’s fragile relationship with the environment by researching specific instances of catastrophe, desecrated landscapes, and the effects of technology and industry.
Temporal Terrains contemplates Doctor’s work over the last decade and offers an opportunity to follow the threads that run through different photographic series. It explores the traces and permutations of environmental decline, playing out on contested sites from Vietnam to Japan, from Thailand to Australia. These photographs, most of which have not been exhibited before, accumulate into an immersive but damning narrative: they capture the incidental quality of the ongoing trauma of colonialism and the manipulation of the natural world. These sites harbour multiple temporalities: once privileged sites of capitalist extractivism and power generation, valued and vaunted by nation states and civic authorities, many are now abandoned and abject, official embarrassments to be hidden; once thriving communities with rich traditions, some are now trivialised locales mined for the tourist dollar.
Doctor’s approach evokes a disquieting contrast between man-made ruinations and the visual beauty of the photographs themselves, as presented in the stunning landscapes of the Kawah Ijen sulphur mine in East Java, Indonesia, the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine near Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia, and the Hang Dong Quarry near Chiang Mai, Thailand. This paradox emerges again within the exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan Temporal Terrains documents Doctor’s explorations into these desecrated landscapes. The large format publication offers a visual essay of the artist’s investigation, as well as an enlightening essay by Associate Professor Dr Jacqueline Miller.
96 pages, 23.5 x 30.5 cm, softcover, Formist (Sydney).