Approximating Memory
2015

Drawings and sculptures installed at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts *

Pen, transfer, soil, and pollen on paper.

Pen, transfer, soil, and pollen on paper.

Landscape architects, like archaeologists, interrogate the firm relationship between landscape and memory. In archaeology, beliefs about the construction of memory drive the collecting of remnant artifacts, figures, and whole cores of soil to understand what the ground might tell us about the people of the past.

I began to question archaeological paradigms to develop my own method of understanding memory in the Midwest US region anthropologists call ‘The American Bottom.’ My core sample drawing series documents traces of memory and also investigates methods of knowing, beyond what we can see with our own eyes.

The concept of landscape relies on the approximation of complex conditions in order to make them knowable. Thus, I developed a process of approximating an archaeological form. Typical core samples aim to understand events that transpired on the ever-changing surface of the ground. My Approximate Cores are constructed out of material gleaned from disturbed ground, where the soil—and all it contains—has been already turned up.

The proposition is to mark historically significant sites with the Approximate Cores. The site markers, coupled with a pamphlet of histories in hand, enable a public to walk and chart a difficult spatial stories, such as the loss of many of the great Indian mounds or the massacre that was the 1917 East St. Louis 'race riots.'

Xerox print on mylar, soil on paper. A gallery showing of site markers sets up the walking tour.

Xerox print on mylar, soil on paper.
A gallery showing of site markers sets up the walking tour.

Soil (with everything it contains) and cement.  Approximate Core  site marker prototypes.

Soil (with everything it contains) and cement.
Approximate Core site marker prototypes.

Pen and soil on paper, xerox print on mylar.  A self-portrait axonometric drawing demonstrates the technique on constructing an  Approximate Core  onsite, out of the site itself.

Pen and soil on paper, xerox print on mylar.
A self-portrait axonometric drawing demonstrates the technique on constructing an Approximate Core onsite, out of the site itself.

Soil, tape, xerox print on paper and mylar. A typical site in East St. Louis, with historic fabric erased by ever-expanding highways.

Soil, tape, xerox print on paper and mylar.
A typical site in East St. Louis, with historic fabric erased by ever-expanding highways.

Over time, the A pproximate Cores  degrade and fall apart. The sites are no longer marked, leaving room for new manners of commemorating East St. Louis history.

Over time, the Approximate Cores degrade and fall apart.
The sites are no longer marked, leaving room for new manners of commemorating East St. Louis history.

Exhibition of work at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.  * Bromegrass Core  drawing collected by Jesse Vogler. * Approximate Core  sculptures collected by Amanda Bowles, Rod Barnett, and Jacqueline Margetts.

Exhibition of work at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.

*Bromegrass Core drawing collected by Jesse Vogler.
*Approximate Core sculptures collected by Amanda Bowles, Rod Barnett, and Jacqueline Margetts.