151MC: Daniel Shea – Removing Mountains and Plume

For my research I looked into the work of Daniel Shea, in particular his bodies of work Removing Mountains (2007) and Plume (2009-10). I thought his work was quite similar to Edward Burtynsky and his series Homesteads.

Removing Mountains explores the social and political institutions surrounding the modern coal mining process known as mountaintop removal.This is one of the most destructive and common forms of modern industry throughout world. These photographs show the process of following the industry’s production from start to finish. Shea also spent time talking to the locals and understanding their stories as they struggled with the realities of living in a coal fuelled country.

The follow-up project, Plume, is a photographic exploration of Southeast Ohio and its unusually dense concentration of coal-fired power plants. Plume follows the coal pictured in Removing Mountains up river to Ohio, where it is being burned to generate electricity. The project focuses not only on the coal-burning industry and its historical artifacts, but also the pace of several communities along The Ohio River. The pictures show the looming plant in the background of everyday scenes. To me it shows that we can never escape the industries and human development. Even in rural areas there are signs of the plant, such as the electricity cable which runs above the trees in one of his images. These subtle signs of human development and industry are what I also want to show in my work.


Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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