22 Steps from the Sea #7

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Medium Diptych
Edition of 15


100 x 50 cm paper size
70 x 35 cm image size

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NB: This is a single Lambda print on C-type photographic paper. All our prints come with a certificate signed by the artist and a unique edition number. The prints are produced with a white border around the photograph to allow for framing. We also have included some cotton gloves to protect the print during handling.

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In "22 Steps from the Sea", Kurt Tong was interested in the erosion of the Texas Gulf Coast. With his back to the sea he took 22 steps inland and photographed what he found.

Unfortunately his act of photographing landscape and local architecture attracted the attention of the local police and eventually the FBI under the new Homeland Security regulations and so he curtailed his project. A couple of years later he discovered on Google Street View that very similar images from the same coastline had not sparked the same interest from the authorities and were now available to the billions of people surfing the web anywhere in the world. In this exclusive set of diptychs Kurt has counter posed two differing outside concerns with photography; that of fear of the invisible and ubiquitous security threat with the fear of corporate erosion of privacy.

In writing about the work Kurt explains how through the intervention of others the project turned into something quite different from the road trip he had first imagined.

"Two years ago, I set off on a photographic journey along the Texas Gulf coast. Working with the following idea, I planned to spend at least six weeks travelling the coastline.

Humans have long been drawn to the sea. The ever-changing landscapes combined with the ever-changing lights seem to evoke emotion that's unique. In this project I wanted to explore the relationship between the sea and those who choose to live by it.

The desire to be close to the sea has drawn thousands of people to live there, spawning housing development after housing development. Motels and RV (recreational vehicle) parks are built to accommodate the huge influx of tourists. Various industries have also taken advantage of the easy transport links and the easily accessed waste disposal.

But on the other hand, nature is dictating our every move. The very road that allows us to get close to the sea is shaped by nature herself. We try everything to stop her from claiming it back while constantly looking to expand. Houses have to be built to withstand the erosion and storms that come with living on the coast. Every year, many buildings are destroyed and abandoned.

The images were taken along the coastal roads on the Texas Gulf Coast. One of the fastest corroding coastlines, allegedly caused by the river diversions carried out by the oil refineries.

After 2 weeks, I cut the trip short. In the 16 days that I was shooting, I had been stopped on 12 different occasions by the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Police, Fire Departments and a number of private security firms. Each security organisation cited national security and terrorism as the reason I could not take any pictures and that after being flagged on the security computers I had attracted the attention of the FBI. That was enough to put me off the project.

Two years later, I have decided to retrace my trip on Google Street View. I found that on the internet, surfed by billions of people, pictures taken in the same locations, of the same structures, were there for all to see."

Artist's video and more information