Chiaroscuro: Reconstructed Space
Our experience as occupants of a particular setting begins with the impulse to instantaneously scrutinize everything. This impulse is sustained through an often precisely choreographed threshold. As architect and artist, my goal is to assist the occupant in maintaining their initial ontological wakefulness through staging, often-temporary assemblies within a host space and thereby enhance its topographic fidelity.
Each inquiry is part of a process by which the humanity and sensual experience of a particular setting is revealed. The resultant staging yields what Joan Simon calls a socio-graph, a support system for the occupation of an environment. To this end, the act of making observations assists in cultivating place-based knowledge. It is an embodiment of an interdisciplinary agenda that embraces the artist as craftsman, choreographer and scribe in an effort to cultivate the cultural essence of lived space.
The space of Iowa has been reinvented in the nineteenth century as a reflection of the modern rationality of capital production. Communities in Iowa continuously adapt to changes in the agricultural production processes. Since its start in the nineteenth century, this production process was lead by family farmers – a form of farming in which labor is supplied primarily by family members. Family farming has become a consolidated social symbol that Iowans are attached to which is based on a form of independence through private farm property and its production process. This form of independence is also translated through social distance whereby farmsteads are equally spaced across the landscape leaving ample fields between farming families. This sense of spatial and symbolic independence has largely defined the quality of life in Iowa. However, this spatial and federally advocated form of independence was associated with economic dependence on market forces, food industries and federal policies. Given that family farms have been consistently mechanizing and increasing production, the demand for more farmland has also been increasing, which resulted in “successful” farmers purchasing production ground from other less successful farmers. This has made the family farmer’s space unstable as it is consistently under market competition pressure and trends of federal policies. This economic condition has produced spatial and communal instability because it has caused frequent reconfiguration in the living space. For instance, some farmers have rented their production grounds and continue to live on their farmsteads away from public services and employment opportunities that they have become increasingly dependent on. The impact of farming development has been even more apparent whereby vacant farm sites along the various roads are a common scene.
Black’s Seed Farm is one such dormant farm site in which a body of work is being developed as part of an ongoing effort to examine the past character and future shape of Iowa’s inherited landscape. Current studio projects focus on the act of making and curating a series of research assemblies within a dormant seed-drying facility using ethno-specific logic and perceptual practices as spatial conditioner. This work might best be understood as a site-adjusted set of objects or trace that indicates the presence of, and makes clearly recognizable, its context as referent rather than source or setting.