Coast

A series of photographs made whilst preparing the exhibition As Coastline is to Ocean. These images focus on fringes and borders, but imitation too: crumpled carbon paper becomes sea surface, spilled 35mm film resembles a washed up kelp forest…

 

Land Abandonment

Throughout the arid Almería countryside, patches of nightmarish red-painted forest (such as the below) are common. The water and retardant poured from the air to halt a blaze contained this vivid, blood-red pigment.

The region is bone-dry, and pine trees abundant: non-indigenous and mostly planted by man for hunting. Their roots absorb the scant subterranean moisture that should be going to crops, invading terrace systems and ruining age-old watering channels. Though, precipitation here is at an all-time low and so most of these channels no longer function anyway.

Almería contains the closest thing to a full desert Europe has – it’s described officially as a semi-desert – and the rest of the region is becoming increasingly susceptible to the same fate. Drive around the region, between towns and villages and you’ll pass hundreds of abandoned houses: from simple dwellings to farmhouses with acres of land, they’re each now left to the elements. There’s nothing here to keep families on the land: wells and reservoirs have gone dry and episodes of drought have become ever more frequent since the middle of last century, rendering the land unworkable, uninhabitable, unsellable.

We spoke to locals – elderly residents of rural villages – and were told of the wet springs of their childhoods, of snow in winter, of green (pine free) hillsides. In half a century, life in this region has changed dramatically. Almería currently endures over 80% of the year without rain, or chance of rain (that’s in a non-drought year).

Drought and inundation are both sides of the same coin, they come hand in hand with climate change. A warmer world means faster evaporation and ramps up the ability of our atmosphere to hold and transport moisture. This means dry areas of the world become even drier, while wet areas get wetter. When the rain does arrive it is increasingly likely to be torrential, in the form of a storm, causing flash flooding and stripping soil and nutrients from the land. It was lightning from one such storm that set this patch of hillside alight.

In 1960s Spain many farms and farmhouses were abandoned in the south of the country. The abandonment occurred for an accumulation of reasons: at the core of each lies the topic of water. The story remains the same today: life is hard in the Badlands (as named by the Almeriense) working unyielding, semi-arid terrain under unforgiving sun.

The following photographs seek to investigate: to capture and document traces, evidence of life. Just as Cass’s paintings are created upon surfaces which evidence their previous function (their previous lives) these photographs depict dormant spaces, spaces where lives were once led.


Gathering

Images taken whilst travelling in Europe, either for exhibition purposes, research trips or material gathering between 2010 & now. This ongoing series features images of northern Italy (particularly Venice), the interior Greek countryside, southern France, alpine Switzerland & Spain. The islands of Île de Ré, Gozo, Burano & Folegandros feature too. Cass’ travels are increasingly infrequent, and combine multiple activities. Every effort is made to reduce and offset the carbon footprint of these travels.

 
Qala David Cass
Sea Photography by David Cass

 Selected Lens-Based & Digital Works | CV

2018–2019

El Bosque Encarnado featured on Google Culture

Commissioned digital work for Lateral Lab, An Talla Solais & Tatha Gallery

Commissioned documentation for artists Helen Glassford, Lynda Marwood & Norman Gilbert

Photography for Art North Magazine

2017

ECOS • Group Show: Screening of El Bosque Encarnado • Curated by Inés García • Sala Rekalde, Bilbao

Commissioned documentation for artist Geraldo Zamproni

2016

Till It's Gone • Environment focussed group show • Istanbul Museum of Modern Art • Istanbul, Turkey

Rome Media Art Festival • Film loop • MAXXI Museum • Rome, Italy

TIVAF (Tasmanian International Video Art Festival) • Tasmania

Featured as an example new-media artist for Joya: arte + ecologia in the book Conservación de Arte Contemporáneo 16ª Jornada
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain

Commissioned documentation for artists Anna Macleod & Sigrid Holmwood via A La Luz

2015

El Bosque Encarnado longlisted for BAFTA Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2015

Participation in Art Speaks Out • Live screening • Berlin, Germany

Presented El Bosque Encarnado during ARTCOP21 • Paris, France

Talk + Presentation of El Bosque Encarnado and Rain (view at vimeo.com/davidcass)
Encuentro Internacional de Arte + Ecología #2 • Joya: arte + ecología
Cortijada Los Gázquez • Andalusia, Spain

2011

Out of SiteSolar Pavilion at Edinburgh Arts Festival
Film collaboration with Joseph Calleja
St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh