Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

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Polly Stanton
Untitled #3 (The Spectral Field)

The first time I saw the Pink Lakes was during a research trip I undertook in the outback Mallee wilderness in Victoria, Australia. These large pink bodies of muddy salt seemed to defy the surrounding bush and vegetation. Reflecting the intense outback sun, they offer no water or food for wildlife and so are largely left as uninhabited zones, save for a form of bacterium that feeds off the briny contents turning it pink. Salt is a mineral that seems to define the Mallee. It crunches underfoot and seeps out from the soil at regular intervals conceiving new terrains and defying cultivation. It moves yet is static also, its passage creating frozen shorelines that shift with the changes of precipitation which in turn cause the surface of salt to swell and shrink from day to day. The landscape of the Mallee seems to operate in this constant binary – new and mutable but ancient and fixed, with its shorelines fluctuating back and forth with the seasons for thousands of years. Dotted around the circumference of the Pink Lakes are the remnants of a salt mining industry, once a briefly thriving community that is now a collection of rusted remains and broken jetties that rot in the muddy salt.

The eventual project from my time in the Mallee would become the moving image work The Spectral Field (2017), a project that explored the temporal and ephemeral nature of the Pink Lakes of the Murray Sunset Park. During the creation of the work, I lifted my camera 200 feet into the sky via the use of a drone as a means to record these primordial sites. The resulting images of the lakes surface offered up a layered response of materials and deep time. Like large abstract paintings full of vibrant colours and tones, they revealed a new horizon of visual perception that transformed my point of view.

Polly Stanton is an artist and filmmaker. Her work primarily investigates the relationship between environment, human actions and land use. Her films and installations focus on contested sites and extractive zones, presenting landscape as a politically charged field of negotiation, entangled with history, technology and capital.