Exhibitions & Events



Lost Prairie Valley

Planetary Bayou

Field Guide to Environmental Crime: Houston and the Oil Coast

Dead Zones

Extinction Simulation Landscapes

Lunar Mosaics

MacDowell Trilogy

Humans Lived Here Once

Whole Life Academy

Comfort in Hydrology

Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys

Water Castle

Radio Aporee Sound Map

Midstream at Twilight



Forest Threnody

Big Hill Petro-glyphs

Current State

Points of Presence

Brandenburg Series

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Sonic Boom Archive

Johnston Island Saturday Night

Suspension of Disbelief

Quantum Danube


Culpeper Media Bunker

A Doubting World

“... the floors of silent seas”

Background Listening Post

Regional Spatialities

Dark Places

Ultimate High Ground

American Oil Vol. I

Kleine Stücke von Berlin


Playas Townsite

Shepard Inversion Ghost


Shock + Awe

Gloom & Doom / Tactile Air

Routes of Least


Weather Radio

Site: Nonsite: Quartzsite

The Mountain Radio Project

Ballarat: Beneath Sentinel

CLUI Projects

Networked Nation


Urban Crude

CLUI Touchscreen

Texas Oil

Wendover, U.S.A.

CLUI Exhibit Posters

Pavement Paradise

Vacation: Dauphin

Dissipation & Disintegration

Terminal Island

Immersed Remains

Diversions & Dislocations

Emergency State

Loop Feedback Loop

A View into the Pipe

Ground Up

Nellis Range - Revisited

West Coast Points

The Best Dead Mall


Antarctic 1

One Wilshire

Alternate Routes

Proximity Issue

Back to the Bay

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© 2024 Steve Rowell


Steve Rowell

Midstream at Twilight


An experimental documentary film about dark ecology and the necessary death of an industry.

Midstream: The midstream sector of the petroleum industry, involving the transportation (by pipeline, rail, barge, oil tanker or truck), storage, and wholesale marketing of crude or refined petroleum products.

Twilight: A period or state of obscurity, ambiguity, or gradual decline.

Through the aerial perspective of a drone, this film traces the liminal infrastructure of oil pipelines between its source in the tar sands of Canada's boreal forest to a landscape of refineries in the US Midwest. This disembodied vantage point empowers the viewer with a sense of activism and counter-surveillance - high above the vast prairies and across the rivers of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. This landscape scanning is punctuated by ground-level sequences of the refinery where a toxic byproduct, petroleum coke, or petcoke as it is known in the industry, is sent by rail, barge, and truck across America to export abroad. After hovering above the corporate headquarters of Koch Industries, Inc., the largest dealer of petcoke in the US, the film concludes along the Pacific coast, at the port of Long Beach / Los Angeles, where petcoke is loaded onto tanker ships to be sent to markets in China where it is burned in power plants and converted into toxic plumes of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Following the northern jet stream, these pollutants return to North America into the airspace above California and the Pacific Northwest. The feedback loop of climate change continues to spin out of control.

When viewed, Midstream at Twilight functions as a form of contextual direct action and as such, invokes a corporate death curse against a fossil fuel industry in decline.

Premiered in August 2016 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.
Read more about this landscape in my Oct 2019 photo essay at Edge Effects.


Drone aerial footage combined with ground static and moving photography.
Single channel color video with 4.1 channel audio
20 minutes
HD 1080p

Sampled & incidental music:
Henry Purcell, Drum Processional, Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, 1695
performed by Benedict Hoffnung/Stephen Cleobury/King's College Choir, Cambridge, UK
Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, Title Music from A Clockwork Orange, 1972
based on Henry Purcell, Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, 1695

Made possible by a grant from the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Natural Resources Defense Council.