Here is a bizarre corollary to Midway, from halfway around the globe in the Arabian Desert. My scientist friend Marcus Eriksen mailed me this surreal mass of 500+ plastic bags and other shards of plastic, metal, and glass, from the lab of Dr Ulli Wernery, a veterinary researcher in Dubai who courageously studies the stomach contents of dead camels found in the nearby desert. After recovering from the visceral shock of opening the box and seeing the musty horror that it contained, I built an incrementally rotating lazy-susan turntable in my studio, and photographed the gastrolith frame by frame in half-degree increments with a 50MP Canon 5DsR lent to me by my Canon USA friend Mike Gurley. Then my friend and tech guru Ian Gilman compiled the frames into a high-resolution video, and as a soundtrack I added the centering resonant ring of my large Nepalese standing bell, recorded one quiet night in my studio by my friend Jim Hurst.
My hope with this piece is to create a kind of vigil for one camel, who gave its life to contain this intolerable conglomeration of human detritus. I care about the bigger phenomenon of desert plastic pollution, and what it mirrors back to us about the insanity of our disposable culture. And equally important for me is the life of this camel, one innocent creature, who, like the albatross, can not know what we know.
"May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos,
Even in the darkest spots, living beings are able to hear it clearly."
-Thich Nhat Hanh
~cj, Seattle, Feb 2016