John P. Hastings & Ben Mayock: Traces
Traces is a meditation on the Southern American landscape and how those lands affect its inhabitants. The installation and performance focuses on three separate, but connected, time streams and peoples: pre-contact Native Americans as represented by the Mound building cultures; the colonial-era, as seen through the eyes of doomed explorer Meriweather Lewis; and the 20th century, particularly during the Civil Rights era.
The land itself is a character in this drama: the fertile ground known as the Black Belt Prairie is a place for humans to congregate, utilize, and eventually foul. The Natchez Trace, an ancient through line in the landscape, is the pathway for this journey.
The work manifests as a three channel video projection, a hanging sculpture, a series of photographs, and an audio work. As a performance, all of the elements are linked through sound and text, moving seamlessly through time. The video projections focus on landscape, maps, and ephemera with connective images and motifs running throughout. The audio collage includes interviews, field recordings, and music written specifically for the project. The photographs, taken by Rolleiflex camera, showcase ephemera taken during trips to the area. The hanging sculpture displays collected objects, a microcosm of the entire project.
John P. Hastings and Benjamin Mayock are artists and musicians from New York and Vermont respectively. They focus their work on the environment, ecology, and the historical record. They have been working on a collaborative project, the New Cartography, for over 5 years, exploring the American landscape.