Thursday, 26 November 2009

fissure vent - steamboat springs

This has long been one of my favourite photographs and was taken by Timothy H O'Sullivan in 1867 of the fissure vent in Steamboat Springs, Washoe, Nevada. I've always been attracted to mist, cloud, vapour - almost like a shorthand for impermanence and insubstantiality - and this has grown for me in recent years through my interest in walking and climbing where I regularly find myself walking into the cloud base with visibility often reduced to just a few metres. In this photograph, the faint form of a person can just be seen emerging from behind the  steam vent; and the cleft in the earth where steam escapes serves as a visible reminder of the mass below our feet, to the presence of molten rock, to metals, and to the living breathing organism that is the earth.

Timoth H. O'Sullivan : Fissure Vent of Steamboat Springs, 1867, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Albumen silver print from a glass negative. 

This is another less well known image by O'Sullivan from the same location.

Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1867

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