THE MOJAVE PROJECT

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about

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Mojave Project is a transmedia documentary and curatorial project led by Kim Stringfellow exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Project reconsiders and establishes multiple ways in which to interpret this unique and complex landscape, through association and connection of seemingly unrelated sites, themes, and subjects thus creating a speculative and immersive experience for our audience.

The Mojave Project explores the following themes: Desert as Wasteland; Geological Time vs. Human Time; Sacrifice and Exploitation; Danger and Consequence; Space and Perception; Mobility and Movement; Desert as Staging Ground; Transformation and Reinvention.

The Mojave Project materializes over time through deep research and direct field inquiry involving interviews, reportage and personal journaling supported with still photography, audio and video documentation.  Field Dispatches are shared throughout the production period at this site and through our publishing partner KCET Artbound. Installments will include those of notable guest contributors. A program of public field trip experiences and satellite events explore the diverse communities and sites of the Mojave Desert. The initial phase of the project is designed to make ongoing research transparent, inviting the audience into the conversation as the project develops.

Funding for The Mojave Project is provided through a California Humanities 2015 California Documentary Project production grant with additional support from San Diego State University. The Mojave Project is a project of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE Program. The Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association and KCET Artbound are project partners. The completed project, exhibit and publication will be launched at MOAH (Museum of Art & History) in Lancaster, CA in May 2017.

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Pasadena Arts Council

 



limerick-quote

“A society needed technological sophistication in order to transform the desert; a society needed aesthetic sophistication in order to appreciate the desert untransformed.”

Patricia Nelson Limerick Desert Passages
recent-field-dispatches

RECENT FIELD DISPATCHES

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Because of your support the Mojave Project was made into a KCET Artbound video feature!

banham-quote

“My instant response to the word desert in a flashcard test will always be a gravelly plain with creosote bushes, jeep tracks leading up to a bony hill, varnished brown in the distance, and a double thunderclap out of the upper air as a plane from Edwards Air Force Base cracks through the sonic barrier.”

Reyner Banham Scenes in America Deserta
project-themes

PROJECT THEMES

The Mojave Project will explore eight main conceptual themes.

Desert as Wasteland

How has our valuation of the Mojave Desert changed over time? What outside forces and historic precedents, including federal and state land management policies, are responsible for the varied attitudes toward this desert? How do the indigenous peoples of the Mojave consider this landscape historically and into the future?

Geological Time vs. Human Time

In no other landscape are humans more directly confronted with the magnitude of geological time than in deserts. How does one perceive the passage of time and respond to our own mortality while encountering the sublimity of the Mojave Desert? What geological events have determined the evolution of this region’s biota within this unique and spectacular landscape?

Sacrifice and Exploitation

Nineteenth century explorers realized early on the region’s potential for lucrative mineral extraction. Numerous waves of exploitation and mismanagement of the Mojave’s abundant resources can now be readily viewed upon the land. What are the consequences of these past and future activities on this landscape and its ecology?

Desert as Staging Ground

Sited within the Mojave Desert are five major U.S. military installations and several commercial aerospace research facilities. The remoteness and physicality of this desert region has positioned it as the ideal site for technological aerospace innovation, military training and weapon experimentation. How has region’s military presence transformed the Mojave’s landscape and how has its culture shaped its civilian inhabitants?

Space and Perception

The sheer physical vastness and suggested “emptiness” of the Mojave Desert has attracted artists for staging various actions and interventions while, in turn, inviting inquiries into human cognition and the sensory processes that determine how we perceive and make sense of our physicality within this arid environment.

Danger and Consequence

Early explorers and westward settlers crossing the Mojave encountered a foreboding and hostile place that is the lore of legend. Modern technologies now make travel through this extreme environment seemingly effortless, but mishaps and even death can result for those unprepared. Illicit and nefarious activities ensue outside of the eyes of the law within the more remote expanses of this region.

Movement and Mobility

Today’s desert traveler often only experiences the Mojave while they drive at high speed within the air-conditioned comfort of their vehicle. Speed and movement are further represented in Chuck Yeager’s 1947 historic X-1 flight that broke the sound barrier to the land speed trials held annually at El Mirage’s dry lakebed.

Transformation and Reinvention

Deserts have long been sought as places for contemplation, meditation and renewal. Past utopic communities were formed within the Mojave in an effort to foster a communal life independent from the restraints of mainstream society. Who were these past interlopers and characters? How are the current denizens and communities of this arid region evolving and reinventing themselves today?

van-dyke-quote

“The weird solitude, the great silence, the grim desolation, are the very things with which every desert wanderer eventually falls in love. You think that strange perhaps? Well, the beauty of the ugly was sometime a paradox, but to-day people admit its truth; and the grandeur of the desolate is just paradoxical, yet the desert gives it proof.”

John C. Van Dyke The Desert
film-shorts

FILM SHORTS

Video
Video

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