West we are constantly moving across vast lands, between
islands of artefacts situated around water wells and hydroelectric
dams. Water, minerals, vistas,
capitals are connected by roads that followed wagon wheel ruts
following the trails of the indigenous peoples and the deer who
The westward Euro-American pilgrimage of rural entrepreneurs,
trappers, and miners related to the West personally and
economically. Just as the Native Americans had done, the later
Americans modified the landscapes and left artefacts scattered
about. At the turn of the century, as activities in American
cities began to mold into specific forms, the Geological
Survey completed its topographic grid-ordering of the Western
spaces of America and its various niches began to fill with
buildings and modifications. Today, a mix
of local, national and global icons and memes vie for
existence on the hot asphalt and desert varnish.
the most recent inheritors of this space, are further
modifying, memorializing, and mimicking the ecological spaces
in our pursuits, language, arts, architectures and
interpersonal relationships. The Center dedicates itself to
articulating the particularly Western American life-experience
through analysis of its more salient approaches and
appreciations of landscape.
indigenous inhabitants of Western spaces often relate to
cultural landscapes as essential markers of identity. Indigenous
peoples realized the complexity of the
human-to-landscape relationship and reflected it in their
place-based cosmologies. Their religiosity often
consists of a deep appreciation for spatial aesthetics. Formal
juxtapositions added to this sense of the sacred: a sudden shaft
of white quartz embedded in a bolt of black rock; geoforms that
astound, rocks that mimic animal shapes were all appreciated for
their spiritual worth.
and irony are wrought into the experience of the West and the
identity of the Westerner.
here the Center begins.
The Center will pressurize the present with historical
landscapes and artefacts; will mine spatially-related
teleologies for textures, rhythms, ruptures; and celebrate the
mystery of origins which continues to pulse from the sage
deserts and basalt ridgelines.
Western American Landscape Project approaches the research
questions of how a nascent culture, first presented with an
unlimited area and a Congressional mandate, crafted identity. We
want to map the progress of this social unfolding into the
present. Not limited to the built environment,
we approach this wide-open question through participating in the
social construction as it is performed by Western peoples from all arid areas from southern
Mexico to the Canadian border.