studio love

A Notebook

ruminations of an aspiring artist

On what lies beneath (draft)


An Imagined Project: What Lies Beneath? I have a vision of a line drawn against our physical landscape. It is like a line that you would see on a geologic cross section map but it’s also an actual line that you can see from the sky above or experience directly in person. The line is like a low lying wall or another manmade mark created by moving the soil or rocks of the area (like the ones that Michael Heizer, Richard Serra and Robert Smithson made in their land works). It is an architectural place, a space created by a gentle mark we leave on the surface of the earth.

And, the line would actually be a cross section across our earth. So with the help of geologic maps, studies and advisors, we would be able to extrapolate to our best ability what is happening beneath the surface of that line exposing hundreds of millions of years of geologic formations and processes that tell a partial story of the origin of our Earth’s mountains, valleys, and terrain. It will also be a partial story of our own history – a cross section of a place where we lived in this short moment of geologic time that we are here.

Why does this line matter? I think the strong sentiment I feel for this line comes from a place of wonder about how in all our interactions we have while here, there remains so much hidden not just from sight, but from all forms of our perception. Things we might not know about how the Earth beneath our feet was formed but also how we and those closest to us lived and loved, struggled and suffered sometimes out in the open and sometimes hidden away. How we woke up every day of our lives and made our way through. How that short moment in geologic time is really a whole, rich, complex lifetime of experience. Beneath the surface of our perception is maybe where the greatest miracles and the greatest heartaches happen. Right there beneath our feet, under our very noses without us noticing or acknowledging it most of the time.

So for me, this line is an invitation to be aware of how important it is to open our senses and our heart, to use the perceptions we have mastered and practice the ones just becoming known to us. All for the sake of seeing the miracles and heartaches that we might be missing otherwise. I am sure they are there. Right under our very noses.

Describing the line. The line does not need to be continuous (given that terrain and property borders will not allow an uninterrupted line to be made) but it must be made so the viewer can infer the full line based on a map or suggestion of how it continues. It would be ideal if the continuation of the line could bring heightened awareness to the viewer of their specific time and place at the moment. So when at one part of the line, you can also feel connected to another part of the line in a different time (esp if you have been there before or if you anticipate visiting in the future).

Each space will aim to bring attention to some unique characteristics and properties of the site location while also having some context to connect this segment to other segments of the overall line. Maybe some of the spaces will feel serene and minimal. Meditative. Maybe some will feel more active. The main criterion for the placement of the line is that it must cross geologic formations where we can extrapolate what lies beneath the line like a classic geologic cross-section map. The end goal will be to create a series of large scale paintings of the cross section describing what is happening in the earth below the line.

I’m not sure if the line should be designed to be permanent. If it starts eroding, I’m not sure if it should be maintained. I think it will be obvious at the moment in the future when the question arises of what to do. Maybe some will naturally be more enduring than others.

So in the end, the art will be a series of sites that demarcate a line across a landscape. At some separate place (like a gallery or museum), there will be a description of the project, some photographs of the sites and paintings (perhaps some sketches too). The cross section paintings, exhibit and site art intend to invite visitors to notice and think about what in our lives, what in our world, remains unseen.

Inspirations: Smithson, Holt, Heizer, Serra, Turrell, Ando, Ufan, Lin, GoldsworthyChristo & Jeanne ClaudeKelly

Arlene Suda