odometer read: 53699
This is the beginning of an essay I wrote over the winter. It thoroughly encouraged the present trip.
In his work of non-fiction, The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram refers to national parks as “contained wilderness museums.” These words have lingered with me for several months. I have often thought of the earth as a living sculpture in the round. Much of my work considers the human treatment of this sculpture as though it were a child’s malleable sandbox with specialized earth manipulating devices to paw out lakes, build mountains, damn rivers, and flood civilizations.
One day late summer in Minneapolis, I watched bright yellow backhoes repeatedly hoisting concrete hunks to the bed of a machine. The receiving machine beat the concrete violently into smaller bits resolutely carried along a conveyor to another machine. This machine ground the bits to a sand-like substance that shot off a long-arm-conveyor like water from a hose. A thousand-ton bridge truss could be turned to a pile of sand as fluidly as a flooded stream carves a newfound route into the earth.
As I travel, I consider the progress, beauty, and folly of the American landscape. I think about the 3.7 million square miles of this country as a living museum of animals, plants, and the objects created by humans. I think about what it means to be human. For this traveltrip, in light of Abrams words, I consider the landscape an actual museum: The Museum of Objects in the American Landscape I'll call it, or MAOL.
MOAL’s corridors are spread out with highway and sky and its exhibitions are open to the powers and magic of nature. The museum can be approached in limitless ways with countless participatory relationships between the viewer and the exhibits. The museum is composed of myriads of functional objects, natural objects, art objects, non-art objects and, and objects existing someplace in between. The museum is a living natural history museum complete with humanity and road kill.
For this essay, I will focus on a selected collection of objects and folk art in the land. I will call the exhibition Monuments, Miracles, and Mega Folk Fauna. As the viewers are encouraged to experience the lengthy distances between objects, they are equally advised to use their travel time to ponder and converse what they have observed and felt with companions and friends. The didactics for this exhibit come in the form of audio files to be verbalized in your auto while traversing between objects. The exhibition will ask the viewers to notice the exchanges between human creations and the so compelled natural world. It is also important while examining this exhibition to consider the natural history of the land on which the museum exists and to remember the predecessors of modern day natural history museums.