Vibrant Landscapes, an intermedia installation, employs sheets of handmade paper and video time-lapse technology to kinetically map a metaphoric evocation of our experience of landscape onto a formalist grid. A grid of chalk lines bisects the sheets of flax paper that were placed directly on the floor when they were freshly formed, still wet. The fiber’s shrinkage as it dried has buckled its form and caused dramatic displacements in relationship to the grid imposed on its surface. On a nearby wall, a monitor plays time-lapse video of the paper drying, a simple material process that creates an undulating living landscape.
What, similarly, informs, transforms, animates, or “grids” our perception of landscape? Our sense of place is deeply rooted in the material land, a constant against which our lives seem to move and change, in flux. In reality, the landscape itself is a constantly shifting set of contingencies. On a geological scale, of course, we know of the shifts that built and moved continents, but even within recent history, humankind has been radically leveling, tilling, and shifting land for farming; straightening, damming, and moving rivers for power and water control; and building cities at an alarming rate. Our perceptions themselves are dependent on a dynamic set of relations that operate beyond conscious thought. For example, the “God’s eye” view of the earth so readily accessed on Google maps and by UAVs or drones deployed by hobbyists and the military add to the ever-growing ways that technologies extend and transform our mental construction of landscape and our place within it.
Vibrant Landscapes arises out of my reflection on the invisible entanglements that engender our surprisingly fluid sense of place. The project, more lyrical than polemical, invites viewers to consider how their own experience of landscape takes—and shifts—shape.