Mapping Nebraska is a drawn, stitched and digitally imaged cartography of the state (physical, social, cultural, sociological) where I live. The components of this multi-year project include:
The Locator Map. Using topographic software, I divided Nebraska into 95 sections, 33 miles square. For two years, I drew each section, to scale (1 inch= 2.75 mile), on twelve-inch squares of Tyvek—drawing every town, every city, every park, every railroad, every river and every creek I could see. I stitched these 95 sections together to form a fifteen-foot wide “Locator Map.” (Trapezoidal sections at the ends of the state reflect the curvature of the earth.)
The Surveys. While I was drawing I began to travel, on state highways and gravel roads, to each of these 95 sections. I’ve traveled 9000 miles and archived what I saw and sensed in “Surveys,” on-the-ground documentation using both a still camera and a dash-mounted video camera.
The Terrain Squares. Once the Locator Map was complete, and as my travels continued, I began stitching “Terrain Squares” (quilted relief forms of the physical topography of selected locations) using software to be able to see the terrain at a much larger scale (1 inch = 596 feet) than the Locator Map. At this scale, boundaries are lost and only topography remains, with heights and depths expressed as contour lines and padded relief forms.
The Ground Cloths. As I continued to stitch and to traverse the physical terrain I also made mixed media “Ground Cloths” which responded to a particular locations or conditions. These Ground Cloths include Prairie Skin, a reversible pieced and quilted construction which is large enough to wrap a human and which functions as map, memory, commentary and shelter.
The tests I need to pass are prescribed by the spirits of place,who understand travel but not amnesia.
A point of view and a special lighting are not distortions. They are conditions of vision, and spirit can see nothing not focused in some living eye.
Absences resonate as much as presences.
All photographs are documents written by light.
Already been here and gone, just the tops of the grass bending.
Americans don’t solve problems. We just leave them behind.
An image is a stop that the mind makes between uncertainties.
Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we're still just able to bear.
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Decay can be halted, but only briefly, and then it resumes. It is the negative image of history.
(John Brinkerhoff Jackson)
Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse.
He who begins with facts will never arrive at essences.
(John Paul Sartre)
How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.
I am not an empiricist so my passion is not encumbered by expertise.
I get the news I need on the weather report. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
I insist on the primacy of beauty, but I don't believe that beauty is dumb.
I learned very very early on that something that didn’t seem like it would be anything, would be something.
In an intellectual wilderness, it is naive to think one can dispense with a compass.
In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness.
Knowledge is the harvest of attention.
Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
Mapping is a fundamental way of converting personal knowledge to transmittable knowledge.
(Arthur Howard Robinson)
Mention the weather when you describe the town.
My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been destroyed.
Nostalgia is a longing for what never was.
Not one of us is safe from what we do not know.
On the periodic table of the heart, somewhere between wonderon and unattainium, lies presence... without which one can live just fine, but not thrive.
Open space is space to think. (Rebecca Solnit)
Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.
Structure is the residual deposit of duration.
Sudden events get our attention while slow ones do not.
Technology is the skin of our species. (Terrance McKenna)
Tenderness wrestles with all I know of history.
The earth is the storehouse of memory. (Joy Harjo)
The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover there is no reason.
The future isn't what it used to be. (Marshall McLuhan)
The hardest thing to see is what’s in front of our eyes.
(Johann Wolfgang von Göethe)
The most radical thing you can do is to stay home.
The past is never dead; it's not even past.
The sky is the consciousness of landscape.
The task in our times is to imagine the real.
The traveler who has lost his way doesn’t want to know where he is. What he wants to know is "where are the others?
(Alfred North Whitehead)
The world sometimes seems to be made more and more of stuff we're not supposed to look at.
There are no shadows that can't be illuminated.
There are very few human beings who receive the truth complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of us acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a mosaic.
We cannot take care of what we cannot see.
We compose our sense of territory by consulting the maps in our heads, the maps in our hands and the ground in front of us. When these things don’t match up, we get lost.
When mountains change faster than mapmakers can keep up with them, we will have to live by our wits as well as our instruments.
Whole sight; or all the rest is desolation. (John Fowles)
Words are the part of silence that can be spoken.
You're on earth. There's no cure for that.