red line on a tree
1/2″ square steel rod
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The majority of my work is highly digital in character, both in its design process and requiring computer-controlled equipment to fabricate. I have also designed and fabricated the CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines that I use. After a lengthy period immersed in building automated machinery to make art, I made this simple red line and put it on a tree.
It is an anti-digital reduction to the simplest stroke and gesture. It hovers in purity, just in front of the bark, with no visible hardware. It is a perfectly vertical datum. It is machinic in nature. A manufactured line thick enough to have its own X, Y, Z coordinate system. It is an axis, not of movement, but of repose and stillness. Like a directionless marker that indicates nothing, it is mounted sixty feet from a trail. It is a subtle flash of color that will only be noticed by those who are intently observant.
These forests are the recovering growth of land that was clear cut for over a century, continuously logged to make hardwood charcoal to fuel blast furnaces of the local iron industry. The remnants of charcoal mounds can still be found beneath the leaves of the forest floor. Tell-tale circular zones that were leveled into the steep hilly landscapes are still free of vegetation due to the accumulation of layers of charred wood. The iron industry vacated this area of the northeast by the early 20th century, as the forests were depleted, and Pennsylvania coal was then available. As a small homage to these re-populating woods, I’ve returned this stick of cold rolled steel.