Bunker Art, Marin Headlands | Mark Lindsay

I’ve been busy photographing the batteries and bunkers in the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco. Given that San Francisco Bay has been deemed strategic ever since the Spanish moved in, there are layers of military installations around the Golden Gate in order to protect it. The artillery bunkers were mostly established before World War II. By the end of that war it was deemed that the artillery would be useless in the event of an attack by missiles or advanced aircraft. So, the old bunkers were left to ruin.

Yesterday there were lots of tourists in the Headlands, mostly European. The best and most famous views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are had there. It is one of the most spectacular spots on the planet, one of those places that has been photographed so many times one wonders if the spot is transformed by all the image-capturing devices. Quantum Physics might suggest that it has been altered and I tend to agree. Certainly, I am fatigued by the scene, having seen is so many times in so many ways. When they start filming more than one car commercial at a given spot, it can’t be good. Last I checked, the ads of SUVs and other manly vehicles are still being shot there. It’s kind of like when they take your favorite song and make a TV ad of it. Ruins it forever.

Yesterday the seduction of the famous place had taken hold of each and every one of the tourists. They were furiously snapping away, thrilled to be taking home a bit of Marin Headlands magic. Meanwhile, I was crawling into the dark tunnels where massive artillery shells once lived. There were guns planned for the spot that were so powerful they could hit a target 27 miles out at sea. The gun mounts at this particular bunker can still be seen, even though the actual weapons never quite got installed. By the time the built the thing the guns were obsolete. Bigger blow-up devices had, by then, been built—hence the Nike nuclear warhead installation over the hill. The sticks just keep getting bigger. The fear is pretty much the same.

I confess that I felt perverse in my activity yesterday. It was a glorious day. The city and bridge shone below me. And I was crawling into rat-infested artillery tunnels. No matter. The images were a stunning contrast to what everyone else wanted to see. I was after darkness and I found it. Today’s image is small piece of the massive installation. It has now become art—a perfect and fitting end for something that could once shoot tons of pointed metal out to sea.

More images to come!