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There It Is. Take It

© Carl Bigmore

'There It Is. Take It.' weaves the past, present and possible future to explore California’s relationship with water, climate change and possible migration on the west coast of America.

Much has been made of the drought gripping California in recent years; the impact on the state’s huge agricultural industry and the plummeting levels of its vast network of dams is well documented. It is part of the fabric of everyday life, but is also a narrative submerged in the state’s history and mythology.

In 1913 water began to flow through the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley, travelling 233 miles across the state. Engineered by William Mulholland it facilitated the growth of what we now know as modern day Los Angeles. But it also triggered a ruinous effect on the farming communities along the Owens River, sparking the bitter California Water Wars. It’s the story brought to screen in Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’, one of power, corruption and greed, which continues to present day.

As Los Angeles expanded, so did the state’s population. Thousands fled the Oklahoma dust bowl drought of the 1930’s to seek riches in California and its fertile lands. But increased demand for water has stretched the state’s resources, and today a new dust bowl has begun to emerge. There are predictions that Californians may face the prospect of leaving in search of a new landscape in the Pacific Northwest.

Travelling along the waterways of California and into the Pacific Northwest the project builds a narrative based around water and drought; how the decline of the environment reflects a much broader decline in contemporary American society; the corrosion of the American Dream and the people that this is impacting upon. As the narrative progresses images of every day life shift to form an epilogue of the possible future; a landscape and its people on the brink.

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