Grids and branches represent two very different epistemological systems for interpreting the world. Think of them as Adobe Photoshop vs. Adobe Illustrator, a television screen vs. the veins in your arm, or a skyscraper vs. a towering tree. Compare pixels to phylogenies. It’s all apples and oranges, of course. But both these systems are incredibly valuable, fundamental even, to the way we think about our world. Yet they’re also incomplete and relying too heavily on one lens becomes reductive.
Layering these systems on top of each other, surprising visual effects often occur. Moiré can result in the positive and negative reinforcement of different sized grids. Branches start to entwine as vines grow together, creating knots that seem impossible to untie. I often find that as the system itself breaks down, something else begins to present itself. It is a bit vague and shadowy, and it seems to slip away as soon as I look directly at it.
John often told me that uncovering the true bones of the landscape is a very difficult task. The system is so complicated, there are so many directions to turn, that any prolonged gaze at one aspect can be distracting. That aspect pushes itself to the foreground of your minds eye, and you can see little else.
Indeed, it is the robustness of these systems can sometimes be part of their limitation. For example, in the world of ecology loose trends and incomplete datasets often leave us with scatter, and only through complicated mathematics can we map these vague trends at the abstract edges of the world. Change a number or two in your equation and look again, does the result persist?
I have sought to look at these trends and try to use them in unintended ways. I try to subvert them or combine them in a hopes that this might allow me to glimpse at their imperfect and unusual edges: to see where and how these abstractions necessary in constructing my views begin to break down.
By seeking to corrupt both grids and branches, I am not trying to combine them, nor devalue them. Instead, I’m searching for another means to organize visual information that is more vague and inconclusive. I’m trying to delicately balance myself on this complicated globalized landscape.