Subject: Speaker Series - M. Saandar and J. K. Cluer - August 9th, 2018, 5:30 PM, Natsagdorj library

Rephotography of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, Mongolia – 1919-1925: Chasing Roy Chapman Andrews Across the Gobi and Imaging 100 Years of Change
Where: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
When: Thursday, August 9, 2018, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Like most good ideas in Mongolia, the concept of rephotographing the extensive image collection generated by the early 20th century Central Asiatic Expedition sprang up over dinner in an Irish pub in Ulaanbaatar, sometime in 2011-2012. Saandar, land surveyor and map maker, and I, an economic geologist, have been working together in Mongolia since 1997, and over the years we have found that the fun of exploring is never in doubt, nor never disappoints. Rephotographing the Central Asiatic Expedition’s (CAE) amazing 1910s and 1920s views of Gobi landscapes and Urga cityscapes seemed like a natural evolution of our shared interests and specific expertise. For us this was a very attractive project because we both love history, exploration, photography, and Mongolia. And the centennial of the expeditions is just around the corner.
We knew that we’d need to partner with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) because being the original expedition sponsor they hold all of the images and documents in their archives. Michael Novacek and Mark Norell (the original chasers of Roy Chapman Andrews across the Gobi) were supportive of the idea, and subsequently made available their fantastic dedicated staff in the AMNH Research Library. We spent several days in the Research Library in New York and found a lot of high-quality material to work with, and we began to realize that if the rephotography was successful it would help to reveal dramatic changes during those intervening 100 years in Mongolia. Mai Reitmeyer of the AMNH Research Library was a huge help in locating the images and organized scanning them at high resolution – the photos you’ll see in the historic comparative panels in this presentation.
According to our research the major contributors to the CAE photo archive were:
    • James B. Shackelford, a Hollywood cinematographer and AMNH director who made some of the first motion pictures in and of Mongolia
   • Walter Granger, the lead paleontologist for the expedition, who not only made far-reaching scientific discoveries including the first dinosaur eggs (this was at the Flaming Cliffs), but was also a keen photographer
   • Roy Chapman Andrews, who even in the midst of leading the expeditions found time to make photos at Flaming Cliffs
  • Yvette Borup Andrews, Roy’s first wife, who’s efforts produced a superb collection of Ulaanbaatar scenes. Seemingly, without Yvette on the mission, there would have been almost no still photos of Ulaanbaatar – history shows her to be a key player in photo documentation
Our first rephotography was at Gandan monastery in 2016, and in October of 2017 we mounted a preliminary expedition to the Flaming Cliffs and camped there several nights under cold and windy skies; the desert’s warning of the first winter blizzards. We used UAV videography when air conditions allowed to quickly scan the expansive cliff front looking for specific landforms featured in the CAE’s photos. We managed to get in two good days of identifying subjects, approximating views, and obtaining high resolution images. In a few places we even felt like we must be standing on exactly the same ground the expedition photographer did, and this was indeed a satisfying sensation.
Preliminary results from the Gobi locations show dramatic landscape changes in the form of cliff retreat that apparently occurs at the rate of several (3-4) meters per century, or 3-4 cm per year in the human time scale. Another way to visualize the cliff retreat is about the width of your smart phone every 2 years – anyway you describe it, it’s rapid change. We will be further documenting and quantifying the rapid changes and possible implications in subsequent missions, but our early ideas are that intense wind, freeze/thaw action, and seismicity combine to undermine the cliffs and eventually topple them over. There is also a human element of erosion as the area is a very popular tourist destination and is virtually unregulated.
From the capital city Ulaanbaatar, of course change has been visually overwhelming in most areas, to the extent that even achieving the same view has Yvette Andrews captured is impossible – a gleaming glass tower is usually in the sight path. However, we have been able to conceptually re-create some of her views and show those buildings that do still exist in today’s altered cityscape. The amazing thing is that so many of the buildings she photographed are still here, somehow saved from the demolition frenzy. It makes one wonder why certain buildings survive massive urbanization, and others don’t.
In this presentation you will meet some of the CAE’s photographers, experience some of their creative work, and learn how Mongolia has changed in the last 100 years from a number of perspectives including landscape evolution, vegetation dynamics and urbanization.
 About the Speakers: 
M. Saandar
M. Saandar, Ph.D. is a mapping specialist of long experience in Mongolia and abroad. He received his Ph.D. degree in Satellite Mapping and Space Geodesy at the Moscow Central Research Institute. He started his career in the late 1970s as senior engineer at the State Administration of Geodesy and Cartography for preparation the Soviet – Mongolian joint space flight on the natural resource mapping system. In the mid 1980s he was Associate Professor at the Technical University of Mongolia teaching photogrammetry, aerial photography and space remote sensing. From the early 1990s he was Researcher at the Geo Information Centre working on design and implementation of geological GIS systems in cooperation with UNDP and the Ontario Geological Survey. In post-Soviet times Saandar founded MonMap Engineering Services Company to initially carry out the ground calibration GPS transect survey in Mongolia under US Endeavour Shuttle Radar Topography Space Mission flight program. More recently his company has been involved in development of the nation-wide GPS network in Mongolia in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of Mongolia; implementing digital mapping systems at the Administration of Land Affairs, Geodesy and Cartography; ADB soft loan financed project on cadastral survey and land registration of Ulaanbaatar city; and Advisor to the Administration of Land Affairs, Geodesy and Cartography, Ministry of Construction and Urban Development.
J. K. Cluer
He is a geologist with interest in a wide range of Earth sciences and has been involved in the exploration business for about 30 years with both junior and major mining companies. He holds a M.Sc. degree in Geosciences from the University of Arizona. His most recent role is Director of Greenfield Exploration at Kinross Gold Corp, a Toronto-based multi-national mining company and a top ten gold producer. Prior to this assignment Cluer ran a Toronto Stock Exchange listed company in Mongolia, Altan Rio Mongolia, with copper and gold exploration assets throughout the country. From the late 1990s to mid 2000s he was Regional Exploration Manager for Centerra Gold, and was awarded the Honored Geologist of Mongolia medal along with his Mongolian team members for putting the Boroo mine into commercial production and assuring that after decades of laying idle that it finally contributed to Mongolia’s economy. His exploration team is also credited with the nearby Gatsuurt hard rock gold deposit discovery. Cluer is a long-time enthusiast of all things Mongolia, and a key benefactor to the Saandar Library Project – a leading English language technical collection in Ulaanbaatar. He is a previous speaker at ACMS events.
The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. The ACMS Speaker Series are organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Natsagdorj Library and provides an important platform for researchers engaged in Mongolia to share their experiences and findings with the public. The event promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia and is free and open to the public.

Thank you to the American Corner and the Natsagdorj Library for sponsoring this event!

For more information visit the ACMS website
American Center for Mongolian Studies, 642 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
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