Sunday, July 14, 2013
What is the sense of place? Through the hand-pulled print and the photograph, I examine the intersection between the individual and nature in the experience of particular places. Social, cultural, and historical trajectories sometimes collide at these moments of the encounter. My work explores the complexity of lived experience, in terms of immediate materialities, the nature of perception, and apparent absences. By various means and through multiple approaches, my work investigates the act of experiencing place from different points of view. Each image thus expresses an element of experience. I create productive tensions between orientation and disorientation, frozen moments and duration, original and copy, image and text, in order to re-imagine and find meaning in my relationship to the world. The muttivalent character of my creative explorations shows a complex negotiation between idea, materials, historic fact, perceptual nuance, and mediated image. These encounters convey an existential uncertainly about my place in the world. Finding place is in a sense, then, about finding myself. Nature, culture, and self are all part of the experience of place. This is where I unfold the meaning of presence.
The Event of the Red Cup
I begin with Kendaia, a historic place in upstate New York. My home is just a twenty minute drive away. I am here to visit the site of an old Iroquois village ravaged by Generals Sullivan and Clinton in the late 1700s, during the era when colonists were expanding their power and control over areas of the Northeast. I initially drive past the site without seeing the NYS marker nor the stone monument that are there. The presence of a picnic table, no littering signs, and two markers indicating State Park property verify that this is the place I am seeking. For material evidence of the Iroquois who once lived here, there is nothing. I know that the Iroquois sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. I know of the Sullivan/Clinton Trail that follows the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, snaking past my house on Route 414, where another NYS marker is placed acknowledging the Iroquois site Con-Daw-Haw. The Kendaia monument mentions the hostile Indian nations whom the commemorated Generals were sent to abolish. A map of the region shows the trail of scorched earth established by the orders of President Washington. I am not convinced that the monument's commemoration tells the whole story. I wander around the perimeter of the mowed lawn of the site, alone with the entanglements of tree, detritus, stream, wild raspberry and grapevine, blue sky, fresh air. A flicker of red appears--a red cup. It is somehow not surprising, maddingly unfortunate yes, and certainly out of place. The no litter signs should have been adequate to remind visitors of their responsibilities.But then something else about the red cup halted my wandering. The uniqueness of the moment where the red cup, me, the absent Iroquois, trees, blue sky, picnic table, and state park converge in this place. I needed to understand how this is to be; what were the reasons for both the absence of material history and the presence of a red cup to appear in this paradoxical fashion, demanded my attention. Questions about place as an eventmental site for the production of meaning became clear. Historic memory, perceptual experience, and the mediated image become the focus of my work. The red cup is both the end and the beginning of the journey.