It has been three weeks since photographer Peter Funch and his team Adam Kremer, Anatole Höcek, and Douglas Emery returned from Expedition: Mt. Baker. While these city boys certainly have been enjoying the luxuries of home it isn’t just the foot rubs and lattes that been getting in the way of the project’s distribution, as Funch explains:
The process that we used for the artistic side of the project, RGB tri color separation, gives me a lot to work with. I might have anywhere between 6 and 40 RGB images from the same point of view. Each one of these will have different elements that I can combine. The effect has been pleasantly surprising – the distortions, colors, blending of time, I think, is quite beautiful. But it takes a while to put these images together.
It seems that his trip was full of revelations and good fortune. When we asked Funch to relay a bit about the trip he sent us a copy of his notes from the field:
The crew set up the cameras while I wandered with a postcard in hand. It depicts Mt. Baker in yellow desaturated tones, a product of its age and the printing of the early 70s. The back of the card says that this shot was taken in 1972 by Fred Shaw on Kodak’s Ektachrome, the flowers in the foreground are by Indian Paint Brush, Mt. Baker’s elevation is 10,778’, as well as several other facts. It is a surreal experience looking up from the postcard and seeing almost the exact same image, but in reality many times more magnificent. I feel a bit funny continuously looking at the postcard while I walk back and forth, side to side, keeping my focus on matching the perspectives, ignoring the beauty, and trying not to fall down the sheer drop to my left.
Then it clicked.
I realized in this moment, seeing it for the first time, with the forty-two year old (almost my age) photograph in hand, just how much the glaciers have been receding. The top of the Coleman Glacier is still very similar. I could see the same crevasses cutting their deep lines across the Mountain’s surface… but these lines ended abruptly. Whereas before the ice extended to reach the cliff I stood on, going beyond the composition of the old postcard, it was now dusty bedrock, naked and grey. This wasn’t the huge recession I had seen in comparison photos. I was closer to the top of the glacier where less melting occurs. But it was real and clear and in front of me. The surrealism deepened as I imagined the ebb and flow of time, precipitate accumulation, melting, erosion, day and night, summer and winter, months, centuries, the relative fragility of the glacier, the fragility of myself compared to the ice, and a future person standing in my shoes wondering maybe the same things.
In total Expedition: Mt Baker has generated around 40 images that include approximately 20 recreations of old postcards, the RGB images, and new photographs from more accessible locations for future contributors. We would like to thank Project Pressure’s sponsors Rab UK for providing equipment and clothing for the expedition.