When The Rouge was built in the 1920's it was the largest integrated industrial complex in the world. Most of it was designed by Albert Kahn, known as the "Architect of Detroit" and was studied by such notable artists and photographers as Diego Rivera, Charles Scheeler and Michael Kenna. The River Rouge area also has several other large industrial complexes including Marathon's oil refinery and the U.S. Steel mill on Zug Island, located at the mouth of the River Rouge where it empties into the Detroit River.
|Rouge Remnants: Study II|
My main subject these days is primarily shooting long exposure water scapes of The Great Lakes. When I can't find the time to get to the lakes, I have recently found myself revisiting the heavily industrialized River Rouge area, which is conveniently very close to my place of work in Dearborn. Things seem to have dramatically changed in the post 911 era. I have found it difficult and sometimes impossible to access most of the areas of The Rouge that I would like to photograph.
|Critical Infrastructure I|
Back at my desk at work, I decided to find out more about what Critical Infrastructure is. According to The U.S. Department of Homeland Security website, Critical Infrastructure is defines as:
"…the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof."
Each time I returned to the River Rouge area to take photographs, I was almost immediately approached by Homeland Security. Not knowing my full rights, I was careful not to trespass on private property. While photographing the Marathon construction project again, I was told that I was not allowed to take photographs of the Marathon facility. I kindly stated that I was under the assumption that I had every right to take photographs from a public sidewalk. He seemed to stumble a bit but then said that although he can't do anything to force me to leave, Marathon Oil really does not want photographs taken of their facility and asked that he would prefer that I moved on. By that time I had already taken the exposures I wanted so I decided to honor his request. While I was packing up I noticed my license plate number was being recorded again.
On another outing, I went to a city park on the Detroit riverfront and had to register with a Homeland Security officer to enter the park. My driver's license and vehicle information was recorded. At this point I really was starting to wonder if I was going to be flagged as some sort of risk to our national security.
|Critical Infrastructure II|
|Rouge Remnants: Study I|