The Little Sahara
February 2021

This series “Tessellations” explores the concept that order exists in all things. As I wandered around the South West “Little Sahara” Utah Desert, I pondered what guiding thread and unifying factor bound the images I would be capturing, this place, and what we have studied in class thus far. I was struck by the order, organization, and pattern of everything I was seeing. I was amazed by the perfect parallel lines, circles, and shapes the resting sand formed. I was aware of the perfect symmetry of the plants. I noticed how all the trash cans were all in a row, so ordered and organized, how the flags placed to keep people out during the COVID-19 pandemic stretched out so perfectly in a straight line, each flag equidistant apart, how the clouds moved and traveled in straight lines, parallel with the earth, and how the people inhabiting, visiting, and playing in this place also moved in patterns, spreading apart, coming together, finding “formations” and order amongst the place and the other people. Trash has order, dead plants have order, people have order, and nature has order. Oftentimes in these images, what is moving is less important than its surroundings. The space around the movement exemplifies this idea of order and pattern, look for that in my work. 

Things never go as planned. Originally I chose the Little Sahara because I thought that the moving and blowing sand would be incredibly visual. When I arrived, nothing was moving. The wind was barely blowing, all the sand was stuck to the ground with snow and precipitation, and boy was it cold. Additionally, the sun was so incredibly bright reflecting off of the snow and sand that I had a hard time seeing. The borrowed camera I was using had a puny and dark LED display screen, so much of what I was capturing was done intuitively based on the feel and experience I’ve had of using cameras in the past. Some thoughts I had while filming “Oh crap, I can’t see anything, what is in focus?!”... “Fetch, I can hear sand inside this borrowed lens, Travis (the camera owner) is going to kill me.” and “Oh brother, how do I make something move in the frame, should I shake those bushes, or throw that tumbleweed?! Ahahahhaah” At the same time that this was difficult, I sort of enjoyed the challenge of it. I enjoyed trying to create my own order and organization in something that felt very frantic and strewn apart. Trying to piece together and capture the order I was seeing around me was both satisfying and stressful.  

How is this work grounded to the class? Mostly I was having a very real creative response to a specific place and a specific time in which I visited it and what I was seeing, but I also thought about how this could connect to our history unit, that history is in some ways an organized pattern. The repetitions we see, the overlap, parallels, and shapes of the past find their way into the present and also the future. I also thought about how I could add a section to the Williams reading: that another way we conceptualize nature is in its order and patterns. Additionally from Bennett, I thought alot about what there is to learn from things. That especially as the world seems to be in disarray, and chaos, the trash cans, sand, plants, and clouds inform our societies, and let us know we can find order and balance soon. We have something to learn from the stuff around us, and from “Tessellations” we learn order. 

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