Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

The Last Stand

The haunting images from The Last Stand capture all that remains of a desperate time.

Lossiemouth I, Moray, Scotland. 2011

Unless noted, all images by Marc Wilson

The fallen structures photographed so elegantly by Marc Wilson are peaceful now… with a quiet beauty… as if caught in a moment of repose.

Wissant II,  Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France. 2012

Decades ago they were nervous outposts… defenders of destiny… thick with the weapons of war.

Brean Down I, Somerset, England. 2012They were technology’s answer… that line in the sand that must not be crossed.

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012

These images are from a personal book project by landscape photographer Marc Wilson. His previous effort focused on abandoned places, this one exhibits fortifications from WWII. He’s seeking funding to continue this work and you can find out more at Emphas.is, a site devoted to funding photojournalism projects. That’s exciting in itself.

Hayling Island, Hampshire. England. 2013

Marc’s project took him across Europe, searching for the crumbling bulwarks set up to defend against Hitler’s war machine. In the last three years he’s traveled to 80 sites along the coastlines of the UK, France and Belgium to capture these images.

Cramond Island, Firth of Forth, Scotland. 2012

From an interview in Culture 24, “It’s imagery that makes you think and reflect. As well as being about wartime defences it’s about the landscape.”

maginot-map2

from lostimagesofww2.com

Were they successful? You may have read about the Maginot Line – that seemingly impenetrable barrier of artillery, troops and weaponry constructed to keep the German Army off French soil.

A ten year project and holding thousands of men, the Maginot Line system of forts and fortifications was connected by an under-ground railway. It was one of the great construction projects of the era. When the Germans launched their invasion, they just went around it. France fell about six weeks later.

I’ve heard it said that war planners are always fighting the last war. Perhaps there’s a lesson for us in all these ruins.

marc-wilson-2-2

from Marc Wilson’s site

Here’s a video pitch describing The Last Stand on Emphas.is

Marc, from the Culture 24 interview:

“It’s interesting if I can find imagery that people have a sense of recognition of, but still don’t really know what it’s about. I think that’s why I tried to shoot them in the light I have chosen – without dramatic sunsets or sunrises.”

Findhorn, Moray, Scotland. 2011

“I’ve tried to make them soft and subtle, to draw the viewer in. It’s about a sensitive subject so I want to create images that are very powerful and moving and reflective.”

Lossiemouth II, Moray, Scotland. 2011

Marc’s imagery reminds me of Percy Shelley’s poem Ozymandias.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Spurn Point, Yorkshire, England. 2012

The Last Stand makes me think about those times, the enormous effort to construct and man these structures and how nature seems to reclaim what man creates. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

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2 Comments

  1. Traer Sunley

    Dan, Thanks for discovering these beautiful images and capturing with your words the mix of emotions they evoke. The scale of these fortifications against the scale of the destruction wrought by the war evokes a kind of pathos and wonder at the same time.

  2. Edmond Degaiffier

    Hi Dan,

    I was deeply moved by these photographs: the first time around the time you posted this report, and again now that I am revisiting it. The initial and then again the renewed association that these forlorn, inanimate images with their neutral, natural, calm and unpresupposing backdrops is both familiar yet strange (in German I am made to think of unheimlich which has many meanings including both homely and unhomely), known and unknown, with a sense of senseles unconscious repetition. Where have all the flowers gone? Misty forests of naked trees. Oh, let’s forget our sordid history, or at least not know it consciously, to be freed at least in our consciousness, of our memories and guilt. Yet in more dreamlike moments these images return, haunting us like so many ghosts and monsters in our cultural nursery through which we willy nilly have grown.
    Thanks for sharing and inviting some deep musings.

    Edmond

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