22 Steps to the Sea
Two years ago, I set off on a photographic journey along the Texas Gulf coast. Working with the following idea, I planned to spend at least six weeks traveling the coastline.
"Humans have long been drawn to the sea. The ever-changing landscapes combined with the ever-changing lights seem to evoke emotion that’s unique. This project explores the relationship between the sea and those who choose to live by it.
On one hand, humans seem to have the upper hand, building roads that wind along the coast, staking our claim to the very edge of land that we considered as rightfully ours. The desire to be close to the sea has drawn thousands of people to live there, spawning housing development after housing development. Motels and RV parks are built to accommodate the huge influx of tourists. Various industries have also taken advantage of the easy transport links and the easily accessed waste disposal.
But on the other hand, nature is dictating our every move. The very road that allows us to get close to the sea is shaped by nature herself. We try everything to stop her from claiming it back while constantly looking to expand. Houses have to be built to withstand the erosion and storms that come with living on the coast. Every year, many buildings are destroyed and abandoned.
The images are taken along the coastal roads on the Texas Gulf Coast. One of the fastest corroding coastlines, allegedly caused by the river diversions carried out by the oil refineries. The photographs in the series were taken along the coastal road, 22 steps to the sea."
After 2 weeks, I cut the trip short. In the 16 days that I was shooting, I was stopped on 12 different occasions by the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Police, Fire Departments and a number of private security firms. All citing national security and terrorist threat as the reason I have to pack up and move on. I was asked whether I have ever worked for Al-Jezzera and was told that since I had been flagged on more than 3 occasions, a report would have been generated to the FBI. That was enough to put me off the project.
Two years later, I have decided to retrace my trip, on Google map.
Born in Hong Kong in 1977, Kurt Tong was trained as a health visitor at the Uni of Liverpool. He has worked and traveled extensively across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1999, Kurt co-founded Prema Vasam, a charitable home for disabled children in Chennai, India. Kurt became a photographer in 2003. He was the winner of the Luis Valtuena Int. Humanitarian Photography Award with his first story on the treatment of disabled children in India and covered stories from Female Infanticide to ballroom dancers. He gained a MA in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006 and began working on more personal projects. He has since been chosen as the winner of Photograph.Book.Now competition, the Hey Hot Shot competition and Jerwood Photography Award. Kurt’s photographs have been widely published and exhibited around the world at venues including: The Royal Academy, Impressions Gallery, Fotofest in Houston and solo shows at Photofusion and Compton Verney.