46.844548,-120.378828... quickly over and into a dry place, bombing range, wasteland, tribes, sweeping down a pull off with ample warnings, a big pile of rock, cattle gates, barb wire and a blinding sun......45.58268, -118.64459....crossing over into new territory, rising up from the river seeking a beautiful gridded view across miles of farms with golden afternoon light, a styrofoam cup spinning in the wind and semis idling on the long grade.... 44.69408, -117.69035.....bird flitting chirping at sunset, a baseline of trucks thumping across an overpass, where is the solitude? construction noise and potato fields.... 42.93175,-114.98654 a tower, bones and a marker, quiet yet unsettled....42.51302,-113.42716.... county roads to escape the constant noise, insects whirring, bulllet holes, pickup trucks, basin and range, this is the west, in between places, the spirit is strong...41.78326, -107.17322...through the rocks and past the lake, making time instead of following ghosts, wind, and fireworks, abandoned yet occupied......41.29679, -11055449..... am radio distorting beneath transmission lines, hoodoos at altitude, windmills, and an old stockade.....down, into the darkness.
Over a two day period driving along interstates 90, 84 and 80 between Seattle and Chicago where portions of the land are relatively wild, open and uncultivated I undertook this project as a meditation of these uncluttered and raw places and my physical experience of spending long hours alone and behind the wheel.
I initially conceived of this project as a sort of documentary sampling as a way to quickly explore the transect of the interstate, and have the experience inform the final residual work after completing the trip since I did not have much time to stop at any location. Stopping points were instinctually chosen as places that provided a clear unobstructed view of the horizon, access to unirrigated mineral soil, and the opportunity to capture interesting ambient sounds beyond the constant hum of the roadway. After completing the trip and reviewing the samples from sites spanning bombing ranges in Washington, to high plains in Wyoming I decided to make a work that expresses the experience of long, uninterrupted travel and the imperfection and blurring of memory. This became a central theme of the project and aesthetic base point.
The final expression of these samples is conceived as a two part installation consisting of a video animation that transforms the segmented still images of blurred landscapes into a continuously changing meditation of sky and earth. The soundtrack is modified selected field recordings. The slowly morphing imagery and altered audio evoke the impermanence of memory and further accentuate the trance like state that is achieved by long hours on the road.
As a counterpoint to the ethereal quality and contemporary nature of the video, 7 soil rubbings on paper serve as a physical, highly tactile, and most primal essence of the various sampling sites. Although completely different in both material, process and effect, the works on paper display a similar ethereal quality to the video imagery. Taken together both the video and works on paper evoke the sense of horizon, earth, sky and the sense of traveling across vast open spaces.
The visual potency of much of the American west continues to serve as a potent metaphor loaded with mythology, the rich tradition of landscape photography and the continuing cultural trajectory of manifest destiny. This work attempts to be both an emotional response to the physical and psychological experience of long hours of driving and the most un-adulturated and honest expression to the sampling sites. I hope that the ambiguous and unspecified nature of the work and contrast between the digital and physical allows for a contemplative experience open to personal interpretation.
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