Trained scientifically in plant community ecology, remote sensing, and geomorphology, for thirty years I used low-level airphotos, point and transect sampling, and some satellite imagery to find spatial answers to specific scientific questions. Across five continents my work and exploring experiences gave me a strong curiosity for terrain processes and for the aesthetics of landform. In recent years I have been committed full time to an artful sampling of the countless examples of earth’s broadscale beauty.
My cartography has focused on raster/gridcell maps (instead of boundary or line maps), which has forced a lifelong study of the use of color to evoke distributions. From the 1970s punchcard era, I have used digital mapping to compile spatial illustrations, and my forty years of avid photography included an early transition to digital equipment.
After my childhood years on a dairy farm in the Connecticut Berkshires, summering in the wilds of the Adirondacks, I chose a university in Colorado primarily on a landscape basis. The high plains, canyons, and big ranges framed places unlike any I had known. I continued to explore exotic terrains during my decade of living and working in Kenya and West Java, and during mapping assignments in a dozen other countries.
Beginning in 2003, with the advances in digital toolkits and printers, I’ve taken advantage of great spatial data sources to investigate fresh prospects onto the earth’s terrain. I try to bring realism and a respect for landscapes to people who perhaps have never felt such stimulus, and to reinforce the experience for those who have.
Since 2008 my saga has turned a bit downward, but less drastically than it has for many others. I continue to have many fine patrons and venues of outreach. There have been airports (Seatac, Ithaca) and academia (Corson-Mudd, Snee, Johnson), wineries (Damiani, Leidenfrost, Lamoreaux), and corporate space (499 Park Ave). I have taught my sensibility and process to fifth and eighth graders, and to college art/science students. Portfolio reviews with NYFA Mark ’09, NYSGIS ’10 and Fotofest ’10 taught me of the breadth of artistic critique. My gallery shows were seen at Cornell’s Johnson Museum for Earth Day ’06, at Cornell’s Mann Gallery ’08, twice at Ithaca’s State of the Art (’07, ’08), and at the Smithy in Cooperstown in ’09.
I joined the State of the Art Gallery coop from 2007-10 to learn nuances of art presentation, and to develop the many rewards of a wonderful local colleagueship. I’ve slowly come to recognize that most of my material is not well suited to the quaint living spaces to which most of us aspire, so I plan to focus on large educational, scientific, transportation, and corporate institutions to place pieces in spacious public interiors.
Useful Web Links
The University of Maryland’s Global Land Cover Facility has enormous volumes of digital orbital imagery as well as elevation data, available as free downloads so long as each user takes small sets at a time. http://glcf.umiacs.umd.edu/index.shtml
The CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) via its CSI (Consortium for Spatial Information) facility offers efficient, updated 5 degree tiles of void-filled SRTM data. Servers have been improved.
Jonathan de Ferranti has a mission to fix rigorously the radar voids in key mountain areas, and to offer his results collaboratively, accessible to all.
An FTP site to download individual one-degree tiles of the water masks which show worldwide large streams and rivers, ponds and lakes, plus ocean shorelines (SWBD). http://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/SWBD/
The question of whether this collection belongs to the world of art continues to draw loud answers on both sides. I often find more zealous positive reactions than I could hope for, and positive responses are more common than negative. In the former I hear of personal release and wonderment, while in the latter cases I’ve been told there is no mystery, or there needs to be a human element (e.g. where is the artist in this?). Importantly my practice gives me core energy, so ultimately the issue is moot.
The area around Sioux Falls, South Dakota shows strong evidence of recent land history. Ice lobes carved the wide valleys southward, splitting around the prow of the Coteau des Prairies near top center. At lower left the Missouri River comes southeast through hills and scarps, all in avoidance of the sometimes-ice-filled obvious course, now occupied by the tiny James River.
Comprehensive access to digital spatial data, sometimes a bit dated, and often at considerable cost, but a great clearinghouse nonetheless.
The best US government public giveaway has a difficult interface and slow response, but is a fantastic integrated resource if you are a patient data-hound, limited in terms of volume available per visit.
Exceptional airphoto coverage of the entire US on 7.5 minute quadrangle tiles.
The oldie but goodie place to obtain any US/NASA civilian data going way back in time, often at considerable cost, but excellent for the time series applications.
New “cultural cartography” offerings, continuously expanded and improved, as a replacement for the retired Digital Chart of the World (DCW). http://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/