“Bring the drones home…”
The township of Einasleigh sits virtually on top of the Copperfield River Gorge and is the site of one of the first mineral deposits discovered in the North Queensland region of Australia by the geologist, Richard Daintree, in 1866. In the early 1900s the town was a thriving mining community complete with a hospital, a railway line, commercial stores and a small business district. Today however, it is but a glimmer of its former self – a small remote outpost approx. 220km south-west of Innisfail. Today it is more famous for its pub, The Einasleigh Hotel, than its mining history. However, in a vast tract of country that is largely flat and endless and monotone the surrounding natural landscape is the area’s most dramatic feature. The little township of Einasleigh seems somewhat surreal perched as it is on the edge of the Copperfield River Gorge that features some of North Queensland’s most unique rock formations and dark alien textures.
And so in this age of probes and bots and drones how might one explore and document this ancient territory?
In an age of unmanned space flight when the celebrity of the Curiosity rover and the Hollywood-styled animations of its exploits are more visible – and more celebrated in the popular media steam – than the science which underpins such feats of engineering genius should we perhaps instead be sending the drones bush? After the Rosetta probe deploys its Philae lander onto the surface of a dusty rock some 500 million kilometers out in the far reaches of deep space, is it not time to bring the drones home, to recycle the technology, and get to work back here on earth? After all, the earth bound drones look down, the satellites document the earth from above and the cameras are constantly recording everything.
The Einasleigh Crater series was developed in reaction to the commercialisation of the space industry and the gradual “looking away” from the stars that has characterised the recent “affective turn” in philosophy and art. The Einasleigh photographic images are texture portraits of an ancient and brutally desolate landscape not unlike the scientific target quarries of deep space. I have mashed these images with samples from the Mars Curiosity rover website (among other cultural touchstones) as a comment on both the simulation of unmanned space exploration and the Wall-E-esque celebrity of the Curiosity rover mission.
Click individual thumbnails to view full screen images: