As one drives and photographs the landscape of the prairie Midwest you cannot but understand that what you see is what you are made of. Every process that brings about us, our works, our thoughts that soar or crash occurs at the interface of sky and earth. In the Midwest rather than other landscapes, it is easier to sense this. I came to photography after being trained in mathematics and have always recognized a link between the two. The landscape here is full of perfect notions. Abstractions. Volume, plane, line, infinities. Something about the flat and utter openness throws me onto these more than do other landscapes. You make the photographs with rectangles of tone and scatterings of stubble and pebbles and pools and eddies in mud. These we attempt to fix to something abstract and perfect. In photography, as in mathematics it is said that we begin with a language and a method. As we work to fit these to a world, we might ourselves become fitted to it. A good photograph persuades us to look into it for an insight, something truthful. And it is like a good mathematical proof at least in these ways: it makes a page that is mysteriously beautiful; it prefers economy of expression; it is irrefutable.

 

For about half a billion years the place where I live was a shallow ocean. By where I am not sure what I mean. This spot was much closer to the equator than to present latitude. But the near continental size slabs of sandstone and limestone that underlay this ocean drifted to here and have here set us up. Here it is flat. More recently (in geologic terms) glaciers miles thick moved from the colder north and as they melted deposited their embedded silt and clay upon the stone flat surface and left the rich prairies. Receding glaciers left enormous lakes and some of these overwhelmed their embankment and emptied themselves, sometimes in just a few hours. Imagine. These cataclysmic torrents carved river valleys and sculpted topography. This ended (or paused) about twelve thousand years ago. People were here soon after. The Mississippian people building their mysterious and magnificent mounds and setting up cities greater than London and Paris at the time. And there were other people from long before this. Perhaps thirty thousand years before. Then in only the most recent moment, Europeans showed up here, Christian colonists and adventurers, certain of their right to own and work this land. They pushed aside those who were here. The invaders included my own ancestors, Irish and Scots and Italians arrived to Illinois and the Midwest after being delayed in Virginia and Carolina. We're here for now.

 

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