Project one is our first formal project as a collective. Field investigation is set to begin in the spring of 2017. Our travel is being funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and will take us first to the altiplano of Northern Chile and Bolivia to explore the lagoons and salt flats of the region. After this self-led trek at significant altitude, we will return to sea level in Arica, Chile, to embark on a twenty-one day voyage across the South Pacific Gyre. We will operate as guest researchers and crew aboard the ORV Alguita, of Algalita Marine Research and Education, to study microplastics in the ocean. Finally, we will part with their crew on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), where we intend to explore the island’s stories and coastline.
The premise of project one is to be participants within a landscape. We set conditions for ourselves, like location, duration, mode of travel, etc. and respond to events as the journey unfolds. We plan to have a variety of tools, such as A/V equipment, film and journals at our disposal to make a record of events. We will also collect relevant materials: perhaps alpaca fibers from the altiplano and microplastics from the sea, for example. The data, media, and material collected during this expedition will relate to a variety of conceptual objectives: To contrast experiences of isolation in opposing environments - one of evaporating bodies of saline water set in the highest of deserts versus one of the most remote islands in the world with its cautionary tale of advancing and receding culture tied to deforestation. We will scrutinize sea level as a now mutable benchmark for measuring elevation. During our Pacific crossing, we will study currents that transport unnatural materials through the landscape while considering the nature of contemporary human commerce, our own physical presence and likely discomfort. All of these concurrent themes are designed to question human roles in the landscape.