From Sea to Shining Sea

“The myth of the wilderness as ‘virgin’ uninhabited land had always been especially cruel when seen from the perspective of the indigenous people who had once called that land home. Now they were forced to move elsewhere, with the result that tourists could safely enjoy the illusion that they were seeing their nation in its pristine, original state, in the new morning of God’s own creation.

The removal of indigenous people to create an “uninhabited wilderness”—uninhabited as never before in the human history of the place—reminds us just how invented, just how constructed, the American wilderness really is.”  — The Trouble with Wilderness, William Cronin

Pioneers! O pioneers!, HD video, 2022, 28:57 minutes

 

In the video Pioneers! O pioneers! which presents Walt Whitman’s ode to western expansion, Jones envisions a 19th Century cinema, before the advent of celluloid film stock. That is, film before film. The visual narrative focuses on a single image, Carleton Watkins’ Cape Horn, Near Celilo, 1867, often said to be a metaphor for manifest destiny, Amerca’s fate to stretch from sea to shining sea. In that same year, as Watkins’ was photographing the Columbia River Gorge, Timothey O’Sullivan was photographing Utah, Nevada and the Southwest as part of a government surveying team, readying the land for the onslaught of settlers to come. Five years later, Eadweard Muybridge would begin his quest to freeze motion with a camera.

Jones was influenced by the writing of Rebecca Solnit on Muybridge in her book River of Shadows where she proposes that Muybridge’s sequential photographs of women going about their daily tasks was in advance of a cinema that portrayed Muybridge’s tragic marriage to Flora that ended in the murder of Major Larkyns, her illicit lover.

Jones has long been fascinated by the experiments of 19th Century photographers such as the addition of clouds to landscape images by Muybridge and Watkins or the photomontages of Henry Peach Robinson which appear in Jones Waking Dream project.

They Built Wooden Platforms Out Over the Water and Caught Salmon With Dipnets and Long Spears, 2020

Click on grid above for slide show.

“For if you think of the past as a landscape, then history is the way we represent it, and it’s that act of representation that lifts us above the familiar to let us experience vicariously what we can’t experience directly as a wider view.” — The Landscape of History: How Historians map the past, John Lewis Gaddis

Click on grid above for slide show.

Mirror Image, 2018, archival print, 20 x 35 inches

Click on grid above for slide show.

The Cascadia Project engages the subject of the landscape through historical photography in the public domain.  The project focuses on nine seminal photographers, Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Timothy O’Sullivan, Edward Curtis, Major James Skitt Matthews and William John Moore, who photographed the Western United States and the Cascadia region and its inhabitants from Northern California to Southern Alaska.

fall book 90

Cascade, 2022. archival print, 35 x 20 inches

The project includes analogue and digital photography and cinema, interactive video, Virtual Reality landscapes, and internet podcasts.

The Cascadia Project is integrative, expansive and scalable and endeavors to support the work of a number of contemporary artists and artist collaboratives by producing a database of  historical imagery. The project attempts to establish a shared cultural subject of the diasporic landscape, uniting artists in both Canada and the United States by making its research broadly available to the cultural communities of the region.

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