West of the 100th Meridian | 2008-Present
Landscapes are constructs. They are derived from the complex layering of a particular physical geography with the cultural, political, and other ideological concerns of those that inhabit them. Because they represent an accumulation of human activity over time, their meaning is contingent upon, and reflective of, both historical and contemporary values. West of the 100th Meridian seeks to reveal the multilayered conception of a vast region of the American landscape. Focusing primarily on the arid lands of the Great Basin, the Atlas functions as a framework for a series of smaller projects exploring the relationship between nature and culture.
West of the 100th Meridian is representative of set of practices I define as “fieldwork”. As a photographer interested in the cultural landscape, fieldwork is embedded in my work. If you want to understand the always complex nature of a particular space, you must first be immersed in that space. The creation of a photograph is primarily a process of observation and representation. This too is the nature of fieldwork. What has changed for me recently, is the inclusion of a much more diverse set of strategies for both active observation and representation – the adoption of a much more interdisciplinary approach to fieldwork.
Image-making is fundamental to my practice and photographs remain the central element in this work. However, in constructing the narratives, I have combined images with text, video, audio, site-specific data collection, and material artifacts. The resulting bricolage provides a space for the intersection of ideologies and points to the multilayered conception of the landscape described above.
Photography, fieldwork, and even the idea of landscape itself are all devices for understanding, representing, and constructing a relationship between humanity and nature. As an artist I am engaged in a dialogic practice that seeks to create a space where conversations about this relationship might happen. I believe the questions we ask are often much more significant than any answers we might provide and that contradiction and complexity are the dominant characteristics of all knowledge. I firmly believe that if we are to address our tenuous relationship to the natural world, we must work toward solutions that recognize this reality.
Note: Below I have included a selection of photographs from various site visits. In many cases, links included in the captions of the images will connect to additional materials collected in response to a particular landscape. The work is ongoing and materials are constantly being added. Therefore, what appears here should not be considered comprehensive or fully reflective of the scope of the project. Please check back periodically for additions and revisions to the Atlas.