March 13, 2023 - January 2024
Bruce Hall has spent 37 years making underwater photographs at the Casino Point Dive Park. That statement contains two remarkable facts. First, the dive park is the country’s earliest underwater preserve. Second, Hall is legally blind.
The Southern California artist was born with a word salad of eye conditions: nystagmus, myopia, astigmatism, amblyopia, macular degeneration, and exotropia. Describing the vision of the “legally blind” is a treacherously hazy business. If Hall peers at something from a few inches, he can see, for which he’s immensely thankful. Beyond that, the world turns into “shaky out-of-focus fog.”
With these gauzy impressions to go on, Hall’s tools are persistence, hunch, curiosity, and, most crucially, cameras. Most photographers see in order to photograph. Hall photographs in order to see. “I think all photographers take pictures in order to see, but for me it’s a necessity. I can’t see without optical devices, cameras. Therefore, it’s become an obsession. It’s beyond being in love with cameras: I need cameras.”
The remarkable photographs in this installation were made over many years in the Casino Point Dive Park. The park is a realm we can visit with scuba gear or snorkel and mask. But while we can collect experiences and photographs, it is a place we cannot fully inhabit. That Hall focuses his fine photography on the underwater world comes as no surprise. After all, he has spent a lifetime using a camera to engage with an equally foreign visual world—everyday life.