Sea of Mirrors Portfolio
sea of mirrors
about this series
I first visited the Salton Sea in 1996 and was instantly drawn to its ghostly beauty. I returned many times, spending days camping along its shores in my pickup truck and exploring its ruins. The Sea represents almost everything that humans have done wrong in California. It exists only because we made it, in a strange accident whereby we we rerouted the entire Colorado River into a dry sink and couldn't get it back on course for over three years. It remains because we have built a vast infrastructure of desert agriculture around its banks, watered by the Colorado, and the runoff tops off the sea and offsets the evaporation. It is home to two species of fish and countless species of bird, who are all affected at times by the Sea's illnesses. For one, the Sea grows saltier year by year, and when the desert sun heats it to a certain temperature, the fish die by the thousands, closely followed by the birds. The birds would have a lot of other places to choose from if we humans hadn't robbed the water from most of the other natural wetlands that once existed nearby - but we "needed" that water for our fields and our front lawns.
The Sea at one point had its heyday. Palm Springs had sprung up out of the desert nearby, and developers saw in the Sea the next desert resort. But like many a California dream, it went bust - but The Sea went bust in way like no other place on earth could. Over the years I became a history buff on this strange piece of California landscape, and wrote an article for Blue Magazine about the Salton Sea entitled Sea of Mirrors.