Michael Christopher Zuhorski


        Heat River

        Dusk Studies

     Eyes Make the Horizon




Heat River is a photographic study of a rivermouth and how the rivermouth changed over the course of a summer. I walked every night to photograph this rivermouth through July into August. The river flows into Lake Superior in a region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula called the Huron Mountains. The river is surrounded by a vast block of private property to which I have conditional access. The property owners requested that the river remain anonymous in this work. Heat River is a pseudonym for the river. It is a way to refer to the river despite the power dynamics of private property at play.

Bodies of water cannot be held as private property in Michigan. Lake Superior punctures the property – the lake is an opening. The rivermouth is the meeting of the river and the lake, two bodies together. In concert with the lake, the river continually erases its banks and re-draws them new. The rivermouth exists in excess of any single name, stable identity, or claim to ownership. It is always visibly in the process of becoming. It is the epitome of fluidity and change.

All of these images were all made within feet one of one another at the site of the rivermouth. They are sequenced in approximate chronological order. Each image is a long-exposure photograph; most are exposures of six to eight minutes. They were made an hour after sunset at the tail-end of dusk. These exposures brighten dim light beyond what the eyes can see. Because of this, the time of day often appears androgynous. Some of these images are lit by both the sun and the moon.

In many of these images the light is hazy and muted. This is from the smoke of forest fires in Ontario hanging in the air over Lake Superior. The smoke thickened the light and burdened lungs throughout July.