After the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, Peter Hoffman started thinking about ways to incorporate oil and water in his photography practice. “These substances are symbolic,” he tells Co.Design. “Water means things like purity, healing, nourishment. Oil, to me, is reminiscent of destruction, consumption and greed.”
The result is Fox River Derivatives, a series of images on film shot near his home in suburban Chicago. After capturing classic landscape photos of the river, Hoffman doused the developed negatives with gas and ignited them. The iridescent, abstracted images distort the landscapes and create a hallucinatory effect.
The irony of making an environmental statement using consumer products and pollutants is not lost on Hoffman: “In a sense I feel helpless,” he says. “I created toxic smoke in transforming the negatives. I consumed both petroleum and water in making the prints. The prints are for sale; they are a commodity, because I need to pay my rent…they are part of the cycle of consumerism.”