Terra Firma I: Distance Decay was a site-specific collaboration with ecologist Jeff Nekola that involved mapping, traversing the landscape, and systems of re-presenting data and experience through both art and science. It began as a series of four linear walks from the campus gallery, following the cardinal directions, with samples of natural and cultural objects gathered along the way. The installation consisted of a structure whose exterior was covered with images and statements about the site drawn from scientific, cultural, and bureaucratic sources. On the interior, one confronted a pegboard wall covered in a grid of images related to the gathered objects. These ranged from expressionistic drawings to electron microscope outputs. A telescope was centered in this wall, aimed at a second, parallel wall. The second wall included large-scale backlit topographical maps of the walks, and an individual niche for each gathered object. The work posited that “land” is not merely local topography but also includes memory, culture, and desires over time. Similarly, it suggested that both art and science are attempts to understand the world, and are equally driven by the assumptions of their creators.
Area 1
Area 4 Area 5
Area 2 Area 3
Terra Firma I: Distance Decay
96" x 144" x 138"
mixed media with incandescent lights and neon
view from southwest corner
  b) south wall text and image detail (texts: Bay Settlement tavern history, Niagara escarpment quarrying, Menomini elder on the arrival of Nicolet; images: map, graph, stamp of Nicolet landing at Red Banks)
  c) image detail (escarpment section, chapel, 1834 range survey)
  d) east door detail
partial view from east, map lights visible through perforations
  b) wall detail (electron microscope photo of Styrofoam, surface area formula for ball, color pencil drawing of crabapple, ink drawing of coral surface, colored photocopy of hose fragment, slurry of local clay)
pegboard wall details (tree section diagram, cornfield photo)
  b) telescope mounted in wall
view of second wall with neon backlit topographic maps, photo mural of the four cardinal directions walked, lit niches with objects

detail of wall (etched mirror at center of map intersections, numbered dots showing original locations of objects, niches with Robert Goulet ticket, cell phone cover, plaster cast of deer track, metal frame, McDonald's wrapper,
rose hips)

four niches (McDonald's wrapper, "foot" deodorizer, teasels, bagged
snail samples)
  b) two niches (dogwood, golf balls)
  c) single niche (license plate)
© 2006 Carol Emmons