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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Land Art, Altered Landscapes & the Sublime

When I started my time as a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism, I decided to focus on topics that I might not have paid much attention to, otherwise, and to look at familiar topics from unfamiliar angles. Now, the fellowship is coming to an end. Over the past 9 months, I've delved into: tribal energy development (not new for me, but I've found a focus that is both old/familiar, and new and fascinating); the unique economics of Utah and Mormon country (rather unexpected discoveries); the electrical grid (the "biggest machine on earth" is less a machine than a living organism or natural system); and, most surprisingly, as the title of this post notes, Land Art et. al.

It's a bit of a grab bag, yes, but I've always been a generalist. My favorite thing about being a journalist is the ability to throw specialization out the window and to delve into all kinds of different fields, and the fellowship has allowed me to indulge. In doing so, I've actually found all kinds of nodes (to borrow some language from the grid) where all of these topics connect or overlap. I've also found that the Land Art topic, which was originally assigned to me as sort of a light, travel story, has become rather involved, and far more connected to environmentalism than I anticipated. In writing that story, which should appear in High Country News this summer, I've ended up relying on the contemporary art class, the postmodern literature class and the environmental philosophy & law class that I took during my fellowship. I'm also making a connection between Land Art and conservation in the Anthropocene.

I hope it works. In the meantime, here are some photos I took while touring Land Art and while reporting on the economics in Mormon country story.

On the way to Double Negative, Mormon Mesa, Nevada.

Aptus Hazardous Waste Incinerator and sky. Near the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

The Power Grid. Eastern Nevada.