SOMETHING QUIET IN THE DESERT
When I drive west through Phoenix out past the buildings, cemented highway corridors, billboards, until sightlines flatten out to just the rusted sand and blue sky, I’m reminded of what Phoenicians say about newcomers’ opinion of the desert, there’s just nothing. That nothing is what I’m searching for and what I hope to sit with, to make stay. I take an always unfamiliar exit off the highway. Consult my map to the roundabout location of the middle of nothing. I respect the stop sign, though there are hardly ever vehicles on these roads. I turn north. I drive, following desolate roads to other desolate roads. Scouting out small turn offs. At some point it feels right, alone enough, away enough. I slow down to turn onto a small dirt road, is it even a road. This land is primarily steering land. I’ve never seen a steer. I’m attracted to this land because soon it will not be nothing. It will be a future city, or a city. Another place of occupancy just close enough to Phoenix to question. I drive enough to feel away from the road, to maybe be camouflaged. To be absorbed into the nothingness. I park my car and wait. The dust swirls around me. I roll the windows down and open the door. There is always a moment in what has become a ritual, where I just feel my feet on this ground. I look around. Look down. There are dangers here, snakes, scorpions, and other things with spikes instead of leaves. I fear them less and less. I wait for the quiet to register. On still days when the air hangs heavy nothing rustles or stirs. I walk away from my car, I try to be unglued from feeling it as a safety net. Try to let fear and isolation intertwine into some cosmic force. This force becoming the work. The work being interference not with the now, but with the future. What the future city will disrupt. The force is a protection. I walk until an area of ground speaks, invitation. I sit or lay. I wait with. I bring film. Pieces of 4x5 inch large format film. No camera. After some time I stand and place a piece of film under my boat. I drag it under the sole of my shoe. What is this tiny mark on the surface, what pattern do I make or disrupt. This gesture I repeat.