A couple of years ago I was photographing reference material for a series called "Overcurrent"
(The term alludes to the opinions and emotions not visible at the surface, an inverted undertow
which controls and oversees our comprehension of everyday life). I finished the film with about
ten photos of the Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. Unfortunately when I got the film developed,
these frames, and only these frames, all appeared fogged. As I looked at the blackened prints
I felt a chill run down my spine. Not wishing to be accused of scare mongering, I must point
out that the effect later proved to be caused by an intermittent fault in the camera. However,
at the time the chill was real, the fear was real. The awareness of our vulnerability was real.
Though nothing actually happened, I felt like I'd had a near miss.
"Overzero" came to me soon afterwards as a vaguely Nietzschean concept. Nothing and
supernothing, a nothing that has superseded itself and become more than nothing, a better,
transcendent nothing, beyond nothing. It also applied in the temporal sense. We had passed
the big zero and survived, apparently. Having come through a cold war and the dread of
nuclear winter, fresh fears were now springing to mind. We had nothing to fear but fear itself,
so that's what we were encouraged to do. Why did we accept that? Was it a bad case of
survivor guilt, or had we been scared out of our wits for so long that our reactive paranoia
had turned pathological?
This summer I was back in East Anglia just a few miles up from Sizewell, doing my usual
beachcombing thing when, on a splendidly desolate stretch of coast, I found the Zero Stone.
The moment I saw it I knew that this story, as far as it goes, had gone full circle. I had hoped
to see light at the end of the tunnel, birds flying over the rainbow. In a way I did, but they were
nothing to do with us, nothing to do with people. They were birds, they were rainbows.
They were the sun the sand the sea and the sky.
One of Many - August 2007