Location: Bozeman, Montana, United States
Climate change has compressed and conflated human and geologic time scales, making it essential to find ways to conceptualize “deep time.” My project, Naturalists of the Long Now, seeks to make notions of deep time comprehensible through visual exploration of earthly archives. Inspired by the 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now Foundation, I have been collaborating with scientists to make art that challenges viewers to think about the vast scales of geologic time—both past and future—that are recorded in the earth’s ice bodies, trees, sediments, and fossils.
In 2015, I accompanied a team of geoscientists specializing in climate science related to Quelccaya Glacier in Peru. I was astonished at the endurance of these men and women. Every day they would climb to the summit of the glacier at 18,600ft, and then work over 10 hours straight, drilling ice cores, digging snow pits, and collecting data. It would be exhausting work at sea level, let alone at altitude. I realized I lacked an understanding of what the scientists were trying to do. Where the symbolic conversations in my photographs ended, the deep knowledge of ice possessed by the scientists would sustain and expand it.
When I was young, I was fascinated by the annotated drawings of Victorian era naturalists. These brought together the two things I loved most in the world—art and nature. Since Quelccaya I have been collaborating with scientists by having them annotate directly onto my photographic prints—a contemporary taxonomy of ice and climate—thus re-inventing a genre of naturalist imagery.
Naturalists of the Long Nowbreaks down barriers between art and science, and creates a dialogue between text and image, landscape and viewer, expert and novice, past, present and future. My intent is to encourage people to think in terms of longer spans of time, and consider what humanity will look like in 100 or even 10,000 years—instead of just considering our personal and immediate desires.