If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Screen Still from Roderick Coover's Canyonlands (Interactive) at www.unknownterritories.org



Quite an amazing well-designed site! I have never seen one so expansive and completely detailed account as to the rapid changes in the arid American West and how they affected the delicate natural balance of the deserts.

It goes on and on like a documentary film. Keep clicking
and you discover how the site is full of surprises....


Unknown Territories combines linear and interactive cinema in a non-traditional documentary about environmental conditions of the desert American West. Unknown Territories creates paths among mythic and actual landscapes shaped by development, park preservation and dams. 

The initial concepts were developed through a series of river trips and hikes in the desert southwest, including explorations with poet, scholar and river-guide,  Lance Newman, who joined the Canyonlands portion of the project as co-producer and co-writer.

The project crosses history -- beginning with how John Wesley Powell pictured the arid West for an expanding nation, contrasting this with Edward Abbey's books depicting an environmental vision gone wrong, and arriving at perspectives upon desert conditions of our time, with special attention given to relationships between science, use and artistic imagination. 

The project allowed for an exploration of kinesthetic experiences (walking, path-making, interactivity) and lyrical, visual techniques (mapping, montages, animation, long takes) that are taken up in a discussion about walking deserts between Larry McCaffery, Lance Newman, Hikmet Loe and Roderick Coover.

In looking at relationships between digital interface and spatial practices the project asks, how do interactive formats expand ways to understand how places are imagined, encountered, represented and re-imagined? The original interactive approach offers viewers something unique in cinema: choice-making. 

A virtual environment draws viewers into a film editor's process of weaving materials together. The materials are organized in modules on topics such as discovery and native land use, water use, the uranium boom, and the marketing of nature. The modules combine to make longer works -- short documentaries aligned on maps in installation form and feature works for cinema and DVD.


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