School and Lake
Two-channel installation: 16mm film | silent | 7 minutes 4 seconds running indefinitely | 2023
A study on the impermanence of images.
The third in a series of works focused on visual ethnography and buried film. A document of Black Mountain College and the process of decay.
Black Mountain College, active from 1933 to 1957, faced the inevitability of existing only for a brief period of time. Interdisciplinary creation was heralded over grades, course requirements, and any formal graduation process. The structure was never designed to bring in the money a university needed. The school would close, but not before becoming a foundational location of experimental arts. Established in Black Mountain, North Carolina, the university housed figures including John Cage, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Ray Johnson, Ruth Asawa, Anni and Josef Albers, Dorothea Rockburne, Robert Rauschenberg, and Merce Cunningham.
It is unavoidable that Black Mountain College be idealized. Its impact on experimental arts is evident, told through the writing, painting, composition, and sculpture of those involved. However, it was not immune to many of the same institutional issues that all university structures bring. Its anatomical and conceptual foundations, the same ones that shaped its legacy, never allowed it to become a permanent institution. The impossible goals changed and decayed as time advanced, leaving a familiar but ideologically skeletal landscape behind.
The campus remains partially intact in the southern region of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Eden sits adjacent to the central school building, which still stands.
Two 16mm pieces were created, one unaltered and one buried in the campus grounds for 55 days. The two pieces were primarily duplicate prints, the only differences coming in the archival still images present in the unaltered piece.
In total, 200 feet of 16mm film was buried still on the reel. The film was unearthed once during the 55 days in order to make note of its deterioration at the then present moment (22 days). It was reburied again for 33 days. The total length of time underground marked the longest process of decay in my work at this current point (2023).
Soil samples were taken from the exact location of the burial outside of the central school building. The soil was tested for pH level, moisture, and temperature. A record was kept of location temperature and precipitation levels.