At the end of the trip I spend some time talking with Les about his experience working in the Pilbara, and he says: “I'm between somewhere and nowhere. I'm working consciously to eliminate the middleground, to get only the foreground and the distant. The higher I climb here, the more at home I feel. Linear perspective is different here, and scale is difficult to determine because it's hard to tell how large or small the rocks are.” His analysis of an optical difficulty is analogous to the trouble we have understanding the environment here overall, whether it's the complex history, the changing ecologies, or even the comparatively simpler financial dynamics.
The Pilbara Project isn't just about professional artists and writers coming to make pictures of the place, to show how challenging and contradictory and ironic it can all be, but also to share with people how to make their own photographs and stories. It's in the making of the art, not just the looking, that you learn what you're environment means. It's not listening to the singing, but the involved making of the song in your own throat that allows you to know country, which is one reason why our understanding of the Pilbara will remain limited. Still, we're allowed to witness the some of the songs and dances and paintings, and in turn we hope to provide still more tools that can be used to help understand and shape changes in the region.