PHOTO ESSAY: HOPE
By Patrick Brown
Borders can encompass diverse roles existing as both natural features like rivers and human-made constructs such as walls. And border regions are fascinating as they can exhibit interconnections among different landscapes, geopolitical zones, and the diverse societies that inhabit them.
The interplay between geopolitical borders and landscape reflects the philosophy of yin and yang, where opposing forces interdependently balance each other. Life exists on a spectrum, not confined to black and white but residing in the grey of life. Geopolitical landscapes represent politics, power dynamics, and territorial arrangements, while geographical landscapes encompass physical features, resources, and environmental conditions. Border regions contribute to the diverse genetic and cultural tapestry observed today.
Geopolitics and landscapes also influence each other. Landscapes are shaped by geopolitical factors as nations strive for control over resources and strategic locations. Access to waterways, arable land, energy reserves, and natural barriers greatly impacts geopolitical strategies.
Similarly, the geopolitical landscape leaves its mark on the earth. Political decisions, territorial disputes, and power struggles reshape borders, divide land, and alter resource allocation. Conflicts over oil reserves have turned deserts into battlegrounds, while alliances and trade agreements reshape transportation networks and economies.
Ultimately, the yin and yang philosophy underscores a reciprocal relationship between geopolitical and geographical landscapes. Both shape and are shaped by one another, necessitating recognition for better comprehending the complexities of borders. This understanding is vital in grasping international relations, resource conflicts, and human impacts on the natural world.
The Australian desert landscapes featured in this essay symbolizes the yin and yang concept. This desert can conjure fear and misconceptions. However, beneath its seemingly desolate facade lies intricate details, deep emotions, and enduring cultural significance. Responses to the absence of visible human evidence include powerful emotions of hope. Only through recognizing and harmonizing the interplay between these realms can we strive for a balanced and sustainable world, we call home.
Patrick Brown is an Australian photographer who was based in Thailand for nearly twenty years to cover the region. His photographs have featured in The New Yorker, TIME, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Stern Magazine, The New York Times and other leading outlets. His work on the illegal trade in endangered animals won a 2004 World Press Photo award and his book, Trading to Extinction, was nominated as one of the ten best documentary books of 2014 by American Photo. In 2019, Patrick won the FotoEvidence Book Award for No Place on Earth, his book covering the Rohingya crisis. Patrick received an Emmy Award for camera operator on the Alex Gibney HBO film The Forever Prisoner which won Outstanding Investigative Documentary.