Projection on Location / Landscape
This work was the precursor to Standing Witness, site: Sage Creek
Written August 11, 2009:
Plains Projections is an extension of The Distance of Horizon, a satellite project meant to connect the work of art with a tangible place. It is a means by which to connect the distant world of the studio and gallery to the physical land that drives the creation of the work. Intended largely for myself, it was a way for me to connect my two halves – the one that longs to be outside and having adventures in the world and the one that needs to draw and think and create things. But it was also an artistic experiment, as I am continually searching for new ways to connect the realm of memory with that of tangible experience in landscape.
For this project, I added figurative imagery to the animated landscapes drawn from my family and from personal memories of the Plains. These drawn images fade in and out of the videos in the way that memory jumps to life and then disappears in the mind in just moments. I reduced the landscape represented in these animations to a single location, the location from which it was drawn and to which I would drive to project it. (In contrast, The Distance to Horizon contained six separate locations that transitioned from one to another.) I then drove to Nebraska and projected animations at three of the locations. One evening, I also projected on the side of my uncle’s machine shed so that my family could see and participate in the work. The black and white projections were miniscule in comparison to the land around them, yet they became the object of focus. It was fascinating to see a representation of actual places projected onto the place itself, to see a moving image within a moving world, to see the horizon line in the drawing melt into the horizon line of the earth.
Photographs and video serve as the documentation and record of this project’s occurrence, and indeed become secondary experiences themselves. The work was fun, an adventure that included climbing over fences, getting up at dawn to catch the ideal light, and driving for hours and miles in open landscape. But because so much of its success depended on a short window of time in the day and because it was bound to locations far removed, the question that it leaves me with is how do I expand it so that others can directly experience it? How do I extend it beyond myself? And indeed, this last question goes to the heart of my question of how to convey openness in visual artistic form to begin with.