For 110 years, the hamlet of Jordan River clung tenaciously to the south west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Seventy kilometres from Victoria, Jordan River is situated directly on a fault line in the middle of the Cascadia Subduction zone, the geographical region of Western Canada that has experienced the greatest tectonic activity in recent memory. This is remarkable considering that the settlement and its handful of inhabitants were located 12 kilometers downstream from a large reservoir and two aging concrete diversion dams constructed over a century ago. In December 2014, BC Hydro released scientific findings that a large-scale earthquake would result in the collapse of the dam and the complete inundation of the town site within minutes. They claimed a rebuild was too costly and decommissioning the structures was unfeasible as they provide 35% of Vancouver Island’s overall generating capacity. By the summer of 2016, all but one resident of the remaining eleven waterfront homes had negotiated buyouts with BC Hydro and agreed to relocate elsewhere. In March 2017, save for the single holdout and his cabin beside the ocean, the town was razed.
Since 2015, I have engaged in the act of photographically surveying this region and recording the historical transition it is undergoing. I am employing traditional film techniques sensitive to the near-infrared section of the light spectrum – a process born by scientific, forensic and medical desires to see beyond the capabilities of human vision, and to reveal hidden details and sub-surface faults. Now largely obsolete and notoriously challenging to work with, this film (and the images that it renders) has a visual quality that lends itself to the unfamiliar. In addition to these images produced by lens-based means, I am collecting artefacts of human intervention that are contact-printed directly onto photographic paper and drawing water samples from the river that are utilized in the process of “erasing” the photographic emulsion from the surface of the film stock over time. Like the transformation of Jordan River and its surroundings, this project is ongoing.