Immersed in the Mojave
The Mojave Desert is large, and it contains multitudes: It’s a landscape, of course, and an ecosystem, obviously (several, in fact), yet it’s also a resonant emptiness, a zone of conflict, a culturescape, a headspace and much more. If you task yourself with documenting and interpreting it, no single piece of writing, no film, photo series or art project could possibly be adequate. Which is why artist Kim Stringfellow pretty much decided to do it all.
The Mojave Project is her multidisciplinary, multifaceted, multi-everything attempt to grok the muchness of this desert. “An experimental transmedia document,” she calls it. Accumulating at mojaveproject.org, it’s a slowly but steadily growing cache of documentary writings, photo galleries, sound files, maps, reproduced documents and more, and she plans to expand it into exhibits and curated events. An “immersive experience” is her ultimate goal. Projected completion: sometime in 2017.
Stringfellow organizes her project around a set of overlapping themes: “desert as wasteland,” “sacrifice and exploitation,” “space and perception,” “transformation and reinvention” — eight in all. These capacious umbrella topics give her and her contributors leeway to examine subjects as disparate as Zzyzx Road, rock-hounding, Native-American resistance to nuclear power and the collecting habits of the Mojave’s human and animal populations. The writings, while probing and intelligent, aren’t off-puttingly academic — they’re accessible to the Mojave-curious. “I’m not a hyper-intellectual,” Stringfellow says. “I’m looking for a more generalized audience. But I also want some rigor in there.”
“It’s meant to be very eclectic,” she adds, “to get people excited about something they might not be interested in.” Though the project addresses issues, Stringfellow says it’s not about taking sides. “I think it’s all interesting, and every stakeholder has a valid story.”