August 29, 2000

Fort Rodman, New Bedford, MA

After I had shot through all the 4"x5" film I had brought to Fort Taber, and was content that I have achieved about all I could for the day, within its walls. I moved outside it, to the later defenses of Fort Rodman, named in honour of the man who invented the gun so influential to the defensive plans of the United States in the later half of the 19th century.
6x9 cm film
Similar to Halifax, the defensive positions used in the 19th century to defend the harbours of New England also proved the best place to place the concrete and steel emplacements of the 20th century. The contrast between the cut stone and brick fortress of Taber, and the simple concrete gun emplacements and bunkers of the later forts that surrounded it is stark, a strong indicator of how swiftly change forced evolution of coastal defenses, and how little consideration was given to form over function. The need to have an effective defensive position won out over the traditions of the past thousand years of fort building. Where Fort Taber has overlapping elements with the earliest European stone castles, little of the structures of Fort Rodman could be mistaken for a Norman castle
6x9 cm film
Finishing the day working with the Fuji rangefinder in and around the batteries of Fort Rodman was a real pleasure. While my intention for the day was to work with Taber, I was not going to turn down the chance to build on my body of work as a whole, and I spent the last couple of hours of the afternoon moving in and out of the fort, immersed in its contrast with the elegant and refined structure beside it.
6x9 cm film
Just as the 19th century American forts reflected elements of the British defenses in Canada, the concrete bunkers that once held the quick-fire and shore batteries of New Bedford were almost interchangeable with those in Halifax. There were small differences, such as the height of the shield-wall, the stairs to the gun-shelter and magazine being sheltered by the shield-wall but, on the whole, they could have been designed by the same engineers. Being my first glance at American defenses from the 20th century, I was left with the desire to further explore them and discover what other nuances moved between them and their more European-influenced partners further to the north in Nova Scotia.

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