Formation Artist Statement 12/06/12
The desert is poetry, but more importantly, it is the pause between stanzas. It is the crucial synapse between words that creates a whole new meaning without having spell it all out. Within all the harshness of this environment is a solitude away from the self imposed rush of our machine. This land doesn’t reveal itself to those who merely cross it. It only tells its secrets to persons that enter deeply within. Possibly the only environments that rival the desert as a place to show the observer the workings of heavenly bodies is the vast blue wilderness of the oceans or the wind shredded white of the icecaps. In these movements, the sun pushes seasons from one horizon to the other and constellations play back that myths that our kind has assigned to them.
During the past two years working on this project, I spent a lot of time in the desert taking photographs and video footage. I discovered it allowed me a way to look at the landscape more deeply than I may have otherwise. Through the camera I was directed to seek out and pull details from the horizon that my panning gaze would have glossed over. Long time exposures at night allowed me to fasten the movement of stars to my surroundings and visualize the other side of the dark sky’s story. One night in Canyonlands I was recording the singular call of the Common Poorwill, a ground bird which hunts at night for low flying insects. It was a very warm and still night. The color of the red rock canyon had taken on the fleeting trance of moonlight and now and then I would be visited by a large flapping moth that was making its way through its bizarre nocturnal world while the bird’s call filled the air with a melodious and otherworldly tone. These are the kinds of things that happen only when one can recede into a wilderness long enough to tune all the other noise in our lives out.
Lots of things fascinate about this fragile place including all the animals and people that leave behind their bones, their art, their shelters, their cars. They leave behind structures of hopes and industry, digging deep beneath the desert’s exoskeleton for materials often better left locked away. They leave behind evidence of Quixotic searches for water, whose pulse ebbs and flows in this land capriciously.
Sometimes under the vault of desert sky I have felt like an ant under a magnifying glass as a dome of white light stamps out most senses save for the perception of an intimacy with heat. The geography will bring understanding to the phrase “out in the open” as a black wall of cloud and water roar across the hardpan toward you, and you, with nothing to hide behind. Other times, a new understanding of cold, as the dry air which possesses no ability to trap moisture, sends heat fleeting off into a night sky filled with sharp starlight.
This exhibition is a reflection upon a resource of emptiness and those who seek to occupy this void. May it long be cherished and protected.