Studies for Making and Unmaking emerged from the process of experimentation between Caballero and Smith during field-based research into contested territories and shifting boundaries. We traveled during the centenary of parks and 50-year anniversary of public funding for the arts in the USA. We traveled together as visitors with hybrid identities (settler Canadian of Scottish origin living on unceded Coast Salish Territory; US-born, of Puerto Rican, Spanish, Dutch descent having grown up on Chumash Territory) to listen and learn about these more-than-human worlds through making and unmaking.
As visitors, we asked how might we recognize the unexpected and unknown? How do we witness places like “Artists Point” in Yellowstone National Park as they are performed and re-enacted by tourists, locals and others? How do we respond? We are interested in the effects of political borders, land management strategies, the history of artists working in parks and protected areas and how these are represented and reinforce imagination and identity. As artists, we reflected upon these structures through place-responsive interventions and the production of new artworks.
Donna Haraway (2016) states, “It matters what matters we use to think matters with...It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.” Her provocation has us wondering about ways to make wonder. We wonder about worlds, and art: about abstracting the same old story that gets told and that makes the same world. Because it matters how artist’s articulate art. It matters to matters of justice. It matters how art enacts action. Transmutation matters: It matters how art changes the states of things, paper, light, water, pigment, microbes, air, people, imagination.
We documented our research and place-responsive installations in photographs, video and sound recordings. We remediate these disparate elements into a hybrid archive of new timescales and pathways to reflect our open-ended experiments and refusal of linear histories. Our artworks bring together digital and analogue projections and performances, curved and pulled by gusting winds, the squeak of technological breakdown, and the distortion of projections on paper. We draw on our archive to remember how to dwell within everyday ecologies, and to conjure relationships within human and chipmunk, bighorn sheep, and pinyon jay worlds, while making and unmaking encounters with dirt, burned landscapes, 15.5 million-year-old explosions and eruptions, trees, light, military formations, wind and mud.