Yesterday was the start of PLANE-PLAN – this is a deviation of surface-plan. “Prints” used as mediations in space. Photography as memory or sketch. As construction. I found myself working in a very provisional way, the result of the choices I made to equip myself here, as well as some beautiful yellow paper I found.
Wednesday was a full day of this experiment, and it moved from the built-in shelves in the translucent room to the inset shelves in the almost completed new loft stairs. It also moved into a video experiment, although I doubt that gets attention out here.
My morning walk took me out of town on Bocook Street onto Little Cedar Creek Road, across a bridge over the South Fork of Cottonwood River. I kept seeing out in front of me the promise of a large vista over the next slight hill or past a tree row. I walked out to where this road turned to the south – where an un-named dirt road continued east to what was the horizon where I found a nice view up on the hill. It wasn’t until I turned around to go back that I realized I had unraveled one of the most beautiful views yet – back towards Matfield Green from on top of a “flint” hill.
I had a chance to chat with Mindy Graham, a local resident, for a bit, and I walked to Bill McBride’s studio and home down the highway. He had a series of maps that he was working on to view the Flint Hills from different frames of reference. One map showed the Flint Hills location through the interruptions of the ongoing 1 mile grid of roads throughout the state. It was amazing to see a large scale plan of this grid – the massive amount of organization we have layered onto the landscape. But in the Flint Hills, this organization dissolves to an extent. The road that I went up the hill for the view was an indicator of where that organization starts to fade and let go. I have been looking at the area from google maps, and when I got back I followed this road to the east – at some point it started to lose its straightness, shifting to more of a mowed path and finally tailing off as a trail that ended in the hills.
When we drive through the Flint Hills we see a continual series of vistas. At a walking pace, the route this morning reminded me of the long walk across Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis in this way: from inside, the long steel truss bridge across the Mississippi stayed a solid form in the distance and continued to decompress into lace above you as you walked along – turn around and it was packing back up at the same pace behind you.
The walk out Little Cedar Creek Road was a slow motion unraveling of the compressed landscape. It seems as though walking to the east for 30 minutes was a process of stretching out the view. Walking back to town allowed the view to pack itself back up.
A rainy day. This was the day I didn’t put any shoes on.
I continued to work on the PLANE-PLAN and got a bit into the video that I have been shooting of it, and I think there is a project in there somewhere. And finally the issues surrounding a book that Matt Wycoff and I are working on started to come into focus (one of my planned projects for this residency).
On day four I noticed the isolation. The early part of the day felt like some sort of rehab, where you are constantly reminded that you can’t have a cigarette. Alone with my thoughts. I work in isolation most of the time in the studio, but it is usually in partial-day long segments with phone calls, visits, walks – people.
My recent ancestors came to the Midwest before and right after the Civil War. Earlier this month, driving back from Tulsa, I drove close to where my great-great grandfather and various family members are buried – 30 or 40 miles north of Joplin on highway 43, in Barton County, Missouri. In that area, as in Chase County, the towns are thinning out, but unlike Chase County, there is no “new” life to turn things around. I contemplated then, as I did most of day four, what it must have been like to leave home and drift into this vast landscape – the isolation, the quiet. It only worked if you worked. They were kept busy by the harshness of survival.
A LONG WEEKEND VACATION
Kirsten (Gustafson) and Luna (Dog) arrived. We all went for a great walk to Matfield Station, via the back roads and walked up the hill behind Bill’s house through waist and chest high grasses and thicket. The view from the top was phenomenal.
The next morning started with a walk to the river down Bocook Street and then a large breakfast. Reading and office work.
The pace of these last few days changed, of course, and my writing here has been limited. Kirsten and Luna have joined me for many walks and we have made many observations, such as the peculiar chicken architecture with outbuilding.