North Gate

Webcam feed, audio, drawing

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This work consists of a multichannel video feed of three granite rocks as they sit in a house in Boulder, Colorado. Its normally silent audio channel gasps occasionally, offering a glimpse into the ambient sound of the space. Microcontrollers in the room access real-time* weather data from the rocks’ point of extraction—such as wind and temperature readings—and trigger fans, misters, and a heater to mirror that data. The rocks have been extracted from the north gate of La Sierra, the site of a nearly 200-year-old land dispute in Southern Colorado. 4.1 channel audio collected from La Sierra is looped through a series of electronic mechanisms. With these mechanical movements and physical displacements, I explore the complexities of a paternalistic and objectified perspective on land ownership as well as the lack of transparency in its management. 

 

In this audio track, Shirley Romero Otero, an heir to La Sierra’s original land grant, speaks to the relationship between her community and the land’s current owner. What does it mean for an outsider to take control of a piece of historically communal land under the guise of conservation? To make foreigners of those who know it best? This gesture explores my own culpability in this conflict as a white settler. How has my very presence and privilege in this region supported the displacement of people from land and of resources from communities that have carefully cultivated them for centuries?

 

*This video is archive footage from a live stream event that occurred between May 1 and May 7, 2020. The data is no longer in real-time.

Shirley Romero Otero

[Play the above audio track while watching the video below. Headphones are the recommended listening experience.]

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Printable drawing