Friday, May 15, 2009

Camus’s Absurdist Man is a figure who (to summarize the text inelegantly) acknowledges the futility of his life’s tasks and the absurdity of his fate and through that is able to achieve a form of contentment. Could it be said that the farmer is himself an absurd man? Hating death, struggling against the insurmountable task of farming; the ground in constant need of water and fertilizer, the crops in need of picking and pruning and grafting… But things have shifted; Camus’s Absurd Man was a distinctly mid 20th century creature, ours is slightly different… our religious (pre-absurd) man is possibly concerned more with a sense of continuity than a search for a finality in a god-like end point. But the sub structures we have placed our unfailing faith in (the capitalist economy, the house that could never depreciate in value, the self-sustained farm…) have proven shaky. Sisyphus is still pushing the boulder, but the mountain beneath him is no longer solid and he knows it, but continues to attempt the climb.

The first component of the project consists of a builder’s elevation level; a common instrument in construction, land surveying, and property division. The level sits on a knoll behind the Deep End Ranch’s main house, trained upon a once active fault-line protruding from the side of the unstable mountains boarding the property. Positioned between the viewer’s position and the fault float the words “California Hates You”, the text visible from the backyard knoll through the magnifying lens of the builder’s tool.

The secondary component of the project consists of an informal walk along the edge of the Oak Ridge Fault, a scar that runs through the Venture Basin and into the Pacific. We will travel a tiny fragment of this 70 mile fracture, considered the likeliest cause of the Northridge quake.

The drowsy, golden surface of the Californian landscape stretches taut over an unstable substructure, pleasantly masking its "distinctly catastrophic" (Clarence King, first head of the United States Geographic Survey) nature. Here is the illusion of solid ground.

P.S. California hates you!

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