Photo by Laurie Halsey Brown
Compared to other societies, Americans are a peripatetic people. Too often, this relative restlessness diminishes our sense of place. Writer and artist Christopher Reiger is using his participation in Nomadic Nature in Situ to cultivate a deeper understanding of the ecology, history, and culture of the Bay Area, his home for the past three-and-a-half years. He writes,
“This place that I call home today is very unlike the place where I was raised, but it invites me to become better acquainted with it. I yearn to know the Bay Area more intimately, to come to know its contours, its rhythms, its aromas, but also to understand its political history, the origin of its street names, and the ecological changes it’s undergone.
To locate myself in a place, whether a particular site or a general region, I need to observe and understand the landscape, flora, and fauna; natural history is my principle ‘way in.’ Ecologists conduct traditional quadrat studies to obtain data on the plants, animals, soil, light, and weather of a specific area. To do so, they map out a square of set size — typically ranging in size from 1×1’ or 10×10’ — then identify and catalog all of the organisms they find in this plot. The researchers often extrapolate their quadrat findings to better understand the biodiversity of the surrounding habitat.
For ‘Presidio Sites’, my Nomadic Nature in Situ project, I’m conducting an ongoing, nontraditional quadrat study. Each of my plots is 15×15’ or 20×20’ (significantly larger than a research quadrat), and I casually ‘sample’ (via written descriptions, sketches, and photographs) organisms found in my four sites. I also catalog the trash I find, the sounds I hear, and the smells I experience, along with observations made from (not just within) the quadrat plots. I’m less interested in creating an objective report of the site ecologies than I am in the intangible, abstract, and subjective aspects of each site. Although I create detailed maps, prioritize biological specificity, and cross-reference my research, I also meditate on the mingling of my personal narratives and stories with the history and ecology of the Presidio sites.” – Christopher Reiger
All photos by Christopher Reiger except for bxw installation shot.
Christopher Reiger led a walking tour on December 8 to three of the four sites that made up Nomadic Nature In Situ 2013. At each stop, he read a short reflection on some aspect of the site. The walking tour concluded with an informal reception where a number of Christopher’s photographs from his project were on view [black and white image above]. NOTE: For those of you not able to attend, this walking tour through the Baker Beach area of the Presidio is based on a senseofplace LAB walk, which can also be experienced by appointment by contacting senseofplace LAB.
Nomadic Nature In Situ is a seasonal project curated by senseofplace LAB, in/for the landscape. For 2013, each of the four works in this project will focus on and take place in the Presidio, San Francisco. The works do not interfere with the local ecology, and are temporary. Each piece will contribute to the development of a shared ‘language of place’.
Each season, an artist or artist group will be invited to respond to a landscape/situation chosen for them by senseofplace LAB. This project is primarily an invitation for artists/architects/designers/urban planners/writers to work in response to the landscape as an experimental aspect of their practice, not just those with backgrounds working in response to the natural environment.
The work the artists create will respond to the environment, and evolve organically through time. Each new work will include an event, and a half an hour meditational sit. The works will be documented by senseofplace LAB every season, and the resulting documentation of all of the projects as a whole after one year will become it’s own work.