Simon Griffee · Design · Photography · Writing · Illustration

What: oil

Defend The Land

A native American facing the threat at Bears Ears.

Poster for Bears Ears dedicated to the Public Domain.

Download a high-resolution version for printing at

Gemme dell’Impressionismo Exhibition at Ara Pacis, Rome, Italy, January 2014

With Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Ritratto di Carmen Gaudin, 1885, olio su tavola. Collezione Ailsa Mellon Bruce, 1970.17.85. More information about the exhibition.

Oil Field at Night, Near Taft, California, US, January 2007

On the drive down to Joshua Tree I passed through the Mordor (Wikipedia - Mordor.) of California.

I got out of the car and could see the relationships in the image; the movement of the pumps, the light of the refineries obscuring the stars and even the moon, reflected off the roof of the car, the red and yellow glow on the bushes from the car’s blinkers.

On a technical note, I was surprised by the 5D camera sensor’s ability to record the faint stars. It was a 4.9 second exposure.

Car, South Dakota, US, August 2006

You need a car to get anywhere in most places of the United States, and you don’t need to get out of your car to get (fast) food, beer and liquor[1], or even to go to the bank. For these, you may remain in your vehicle and go through the drive-through.

The dependence on automobiles and the associated ‘conveniences’ are both astonishing and depressing to me. The strip malls and parking lots and gas stations and ‘business exits’ everywhere, built solely for the passing driver, near nothing, far away from everything.

Car, captured during my cross-country drive from Michigan to California, reminds me of all the above—hence the oily black and white treatment.

I am guilty of driving in this land of course, but only on distant travels with friends. The rest of the time, I ride my bicycle, and I love it. I should post a photograph from a Critical Mass ( in San Francisco…

[1] Don’t open these inside your car, and if you are walking, likely because you are in a city, keep them in a paper bag.