Collodion tintype portraits of people who saw the old Lake Pedder in Tasmania.
The philosopher Roland Barthes mused, while looking upon a photograph of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother (Napoleon died before the invention of photography), that he was looking at the eyes of someone who had gazed upon the emperor. He felt a startling and somewhat direct connection, through the photographic image, to one of the most significant of all historical figures. Gazed Upon Lake Pedder exploits the power of the photograph to connect us in unique and powerful ways to other times and events.
The legendary Lake Pedder in southwest Tasmania, with its globally significant giant quartzite beach was inundated by hydroelectricity dams built in the name of technological progress in the 1970s. It was internationally recognised as an environmental treasure and is considered the birthplace of the Australian conservation movement.
These portraits connect us with the lost lake even more directly than conventional photographs by exploiting the defining property collodion tintypes possess of being comprised of silver grains made by the very light rays that bounced off the subject in front of the camera. They are not prints from an intermediate negative or digital file. The eyes in these portraits were directly produced from reflected light off the very eyes that once gazed upon Lake Pedder.
The collodion tintype portraits thereby embody only two degrees of separation between the lost Lake Pedder and the modern audience.