'Typhoon Project' series
Lymnos - Agios Efstratios - Samothraki - Thasos - Mont Athos - Skiathos - Samos
Client: A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foudantion
Image Copyright: Rights-Managed © Pygmalion Karatzas.
Edition Type: Limited edition print.
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Typhoon Project description:
"The Typhoon is the only vessel in the Mediterranean with the sole purpose to clean up the most inaccessible Greek coast lines, which has become, unfortunately, in some places a waste concentration. This initiative is within the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation “Project Typhoon”, an important and indeed ambitious initiative for the maritime environment and its maintenance. Typhoon operates in the Greek waters as the catalyst for the protection of the environment from pollution and fulfills the scope for the mega vision and mission set by the Foundation’s founder; to contribute with determination in the clean-up of Greece’s coast lines as well as that of its thousand islands – small and big ones, from any type of pollutants.”
Pygmalion Karatzas Photography was selected by the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation to document the Typhoon Project is various locations.
Between April and December 2021 six expeditions were conducted:
1. April 2021: The islands of Lymnos and Agios Efstratios.
2-3. July 2021: The islands of Samothraki and Thasos.
4. August 2021: The peninsula of Mont Athos.
5. October 2021: The island of Skiathos.
6. December 2021: The island of Samos.
Following the crew’s schedule and living onboard the Typhoon vessel, the visited shorelines were photographed during the cleaning operations. The daily schedule consists of two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with an intense routine to maximise the available time, given the heavy-duty conditions of cranes lifting the zodiacs, carrying various equipment and difficulties approaching beaches due to terrain and weather while maintaining safety protocols. Emphasis is given to remote locations difficult to approach by land, for which 3 zodiac type boats along with a crew of approximately 20 people collect litter to be taken onboard the vessel for separation and storage management before their final recycling destination in specialised processing facilities on land. The coordinates, shoreline mileage, weight and type are recorded as well as the before and after condition of the beach.
The photographic approach was a multi-perspectival one, using various types of photography to provide a comprehensive coverage, include and portray multiple perception modes. Reportage was used to capture the actions of the crew in closeups to emphasise the work and in wider frames to also present the scale of the landscapes in candid moments. Panoramic images take this farther with stitched images that open the vistas and the human element becomes less dominant, allowing the locations to become the main subject. Long exposure photography with neutral density filters was used when appropriate. This effect adds an extra layer to the passage of time and strips the scene from distractions towards more fine art representations. Drone photography was also used to capture aerial images of the extended locations and broaden the scale even farther. Extra attention was given to planar aerial images that are a product of a more meticulous and intuitive investigation of the terrain. Such images looking straight down from different heights capture the scope of the operations in various scales, while at the same time bring out the formalistic elements of the surrounding environment. They also ended up providing a subliminal connection across the variety of visited locations, creating a series of images that can stand alone as iconic pieces. This multi-perspectival approaches has lastly accompanied with videography using footage shot in real time and in time-lapse and hyper-lapse passage of time.
This ‘Integral Lens’ approach has been the study of the photographer in collaboration with the professor of architecture Mark DeKay from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville since 2015, focusing it on architectural photography. This project gave the opportunity to apply it in other photographic genres.
Selected images and a video edit from this project participated in the International Photography Awards 2021, a leading annual professional competition. A stellar international jury of renowned photography experts judged nearly 14.000 entries from 120 countries around the world. The project received the 1st place in the category Special - Travel / Wanderlust, one honorable mention in the category Fine Art - Landscapes and one honorable mention in the category Still in Motion / Video, Editorial. Selections have also been featured in the fine art photography magazines Camerapixo Press and Lens Magazine.
The motto “Think global, act local” has become the central mentality of environmental activism around the world for decades now, which keeps reminding us to retain both the micro and the macro perspectives at the same time. We typically associate these remote landscapes in a perpetual pristine condition, yet we are becoming increasingly aware of the far reaches of pollution albeit not in our immediate eyesight. These images coupled with the statistics of their cleaning operations, brings us to a similar dissonance. Their macro perspective holds true to their innate beauty while their micro perspective reveals the impact of our bad habits or inadequate waste management, hopefully bringing us closer to facing our environmental cognitive dissonance.
Statistics from the operations and locations:
In total the Typhoon stayed in Lymnos island for 122 days and cleaned 206 beaches. It covered 94.529 meters of shoreline and removed more than 57 tones of garbage, in their majority plastic.
My thanks to programs coordinator Peggy Xirotagarou, executive director Dr. Angeliki Kosmopoulou and chairman of the board Evi Lazou for entrusting me with the documentation of this project. I would also like to thank Typhoon Project coordinators Michalis Prevenios and Haris Pontikas; and the whole crew of the Typhoon vessel for assisting with the assignment in the field. Our gratitude to the Secretariat of Athos Holy Community for allowing us to document this project on Mont Athos.
Drone operator (Lymnos & Agios Efstratios): Christos Kodellas / Xtreme Camera Production.
Drone operator (Samothraki, Thasos, Skiathos, Samos): Gerasimos Michalopoulos.
Drone operator (Mont Athos): Giorgos Strickler.
Pygmalion Karatzas Photography: www.pygmalionkaratzas.com
A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation: www.aclcf.org
Video with works and locations from Mont Athos:
Production coordination: Peggy Xirotagarou, Michalis Prevenios, Pygmalion Karatzas.
Filming, director of photography, editing: Pygmalion Karatzas.
Drone operator: Giorgos Strigler.
Soundtrack: Schiller - Desert Empire, Album 'Opus'.
Date: 29 July - 2 August 2021.
Admin note: more series will be added in this collection as they are edited.