Mirror State

Last May, we set out for the salt flats to pursue practice-based research from four distinct disciplines: science, vocal performance, new music composition, and the moving image.

We wanted to explore the productive overlaps and fascinating contradictions that arise with cross-disciplinary collaboration, and sought to further develop a methodology that draws from each in equal measure along the way.

For us, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah were the perfect medium for exploring questions of perception, material, sensation, and time which drove our shared practice. Over the ten days of our exploratory research trip, we engaged with the landscape and its expressive potential through not only sight and sound but concepts based in scientific inquiry as well. We traveled with notebooks, cameras, and recording equipment. According to the We Shall Remain: Utah Indian Curriculum Project, the area is on Shoshone and Goshute lands.

Jonathan comes from the perspective of science: as a paleoclimatologist, he studies the remnants of ancient landscapes for clues about past environmental conditions. The Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats inspired some of the earliest studies in this field; one cannot look at the expanses of evaporites and ancient shorelines without being confronted with climate change on a massive scale. As scientists, we are challenged to conceptualize these changes. How do we understand the forces that caused an area the size of Lake Michigan to fill and dry up twenty-eight times in the past million years? What role can art play in furthering a scientist’s understanding at these scales? What will a scientific eye reveal to an artist?