A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration

Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Jumping ahead to the work made on trail John Muir Wilderness

ok so I thought when I wrote my first blog entry a week after leaving the Wilderness --for we were to deep in it to blog from there...I  thought I'd take everyone journal style through the whole experience from  arrivak & orientation on to discussions a day hikes, then heading out onto the trail-- touring 8 days  with the wilderness rangers--portraits of them....return to Jack Ass Base camp-- runs down mountain to town that took so long--5 minutes of phoning home could cost  5 hrs of the day...then art ideas and making  stuff  in a cabin where  the electric is from a generator--5 days of sleep deprivation to make costumes props form characters narratives link it all to something of importance...Then  back into the wilderness deeper this time and carrying  all your gear food and the art  stuff--those props and costumes, cameras to document, all the stuff your back and feet  wish you'd left behind-- s you could just walk and hike and scramble...then the project, only then with context--and I still hope too do all that-- but I have work to share and the tale I outlined  and my out line for the tale  goes on a while --and a while longer before we'd get to the work so I'm going to skip way ahead... and back fill later

I have invented this character-- a Kotwa, healer--a teacher,detective and initiator of rituals and as him I am wandering on and off trail in the Big John Muir Wilderness-- I'm thinking a bit glibly about wilderess as a Mall of sorts--the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trails as Corridors of Sacrifice--where within wilderness, wilderness has been replaced by a theater of itself--a theater playing to itself but actually  to us--folks wanting entertainment and achievement badges for our  khaki uniforms. Wilderness area creeping away from the wilderness act and that slippery shape shifter 'the wilderness character' that fills in the gaps between statute--

I have become a character of that character  and my name as him is Gni Gnah Loof, I am  Kotwa, of the Kotwa People ...Now, Gni Gnah Loof is walking these broad trails and he is finding all the  fields of his vision be-specked with bright  little wildflower colors...but these are not twinkling blooms  but instead the fuschia corner of a granola bar with cranberries, or the dewy silver remains of a foil lined  pack meal burned and pulverized and set  into the breeze of flood drift-- now tiny as a microchip and as common on the trail as the smart chips are in our non-wilderness homes--there are many other little colors to, some slightly withered by fire but all gleaming micro remains of food packaging, lost buttons fishing lures.

You understand that seeing this a Kotwa must make a medicine--a potion or dance, oration or blow to the head-- and to do this he must also understand the ailment--for a medicine that doesn't know it's sickness will not be let over the ill-house threshold.

The documentation of the work interrupts itself by foregrounding blatantly incongruous visual elements to assert a fiction that better resembles the situated actions I ‘performed’, for it is 
not the prop, performance, documentation but the interaction between site (inclusive of ‘audience’)
and self that is where this work resides. Further in the wilderness we ourselves are intrusions and
what we bring as contemporary people can be startlingly incongruous with the environment--I, 
we, us all our gear everything an exotic and a hybrid of questionable belonging...

Gni Gnah Loof’s sleeping pad has now been divided in two strips and cushioned in luxurious velvet, allowing him to walk the trail in comfort--but his sleeping is no longer so good.

Loof does not sleep during the day--you must not depend so much on what appears as to avoid the what is.

Above Loof's head, in the rosy glow that comes from sun passing through his tent's red walls, Gni Gnah Loof's Kotwa headress waits for his next excursion--but speaking of the Kotwa headdress now is to soon, so we return to the Corridor of Sacrifice and the thoughts and actions upon it.

When he is walking on the pad on the trail each time he reaches the end of one half of his pad he rolls out the other half ahead of himself—retrieving and rolling up the one he has just stepped from, now carrying  it with him so he can extend his cushioned trail forward. This allows him to continuously walk on a padded trail.

A Trail has its overlooks and vignettes..and there are windows in this trail, windows that look out of the wilderness and back to stores and kitchens. these are reveered windows filled with shiny colors. With each step Gni Gnah Loof bends to touch the ‘micro trash’ that be-jewels his path cushion amazed by the wonderment of variety. In truth  these are not real things they are props he has made--the rattle is not the medicine, nor the sound, nor the shaking--these things only mark  and make the healing  able to be seen, located, and with good fortune grasped--so Gni Gnah Loof has sewn these colors into the path with a love that is hungry for dried cherries or curried Shitake mushrooms wrapped in bright yellow crinkly cellophane. These are lovely delicious things adding colors and good substances to my food--and they are doing the same to my path filling it with little tastes of alien color and substances--be-speckled becomes the local environment. 

(Wilderness Rangers spend a large portion of their tours picking micro trash from trails campsites and fire pits this process yields mountains of trash over 40 lbs was collected on a single 8 day tour).

Out on the Trail Gni Gnah Loof hangs his Kotwa Banner and walks his padded trail, others move more swiftly on the trail and do not touch the little colors. Someone may stop and ask him what he is doing and he will try to tell them-- telling them in his way, hoping they will be made stronger less able to become ill -- this variety of illness leaves things covered in little colored spots--hives that require some more healing.

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