The Salton Sea
The Salton Sea – 1992
The Salton Sea is one of those places that I have returned to several times in my life. First having gone there in the early 1990s as an architecture student I immediately became fascinated with its landscape. It presented as an isolated wasteland, with decaying buildings, and civic experiments that never came to fruition. The odd encampments of small groups of people lived in the few dilapidated structures for housing, run-down homes, motorhomes, and abandoned, boarded-up buildings. The landscape itself mimics the despair that would drive anyone to live here. The air smells putrid and the coastline is covered with the piled-up remains of dead wildlife. But there is this quiet stillness and starkness about the place that has a cinematic feel.
These shots were shot in 1993 with a Kodak Stretch 35 on a field trip while I was an architecture student. Before visiting the marina designed by the Palm Springs architect Albert Frey, we met Albert Frey at his house, a case study home that is quite beautiful. The Palm Springs Museum now runs it. He was in his late 90s at the time and spent an hour or so with us, showing us his house and answering our questions.
The Salton Sea – 2001
I returned to the Frey Marina in 2001 to take pictures that I had always wanted to return for. I had bought a Nikon F3 a year earlier and was still getting used to the camera, as well as I had started to shoot slide film. These were all shot with Velvia 50 and I would call them semi-successful. I have returned since then but another failed attempt to revive the area and make good on its promise of a desert oasis saw the original marina get restored into what can only be called a disaster. The area is still as barren as ever and looks much like it did in the early 1990s. A few people do come here mostly to ride ATVs and off-road motorcycles on the dunes that exist.