artist statement -
Topo of the Trip  

In the summer of 1977 I accompanied Reed Estabrook on a cross-country journey while he was shooting the negatives for The North American Cross Section, an artwork of sequential continuous images of the landscape north of Interstate 80 between San Francisco and New York City. 
Reed had mounted a 35mm still camera in a window centered on the left side of his green 1973 Dodge van.  He also installed a sighting guide on the driver’s window with a remote triggering device so that he could view the landscape, decide on the periodicity of the shots and take the pictures all at the same time while he was driving.  Once the shooting began in the morning, he tried to not stop during the day in order to maintain the continuity of the landscape and the lighting.  When needing to stop for gas or for the night, we often had to backtrack one exit so that the shooting could be picked up where it had previously ended.  When the film ran out, we would stop along the side of the road to reload the camera’s 250-exposure back, often in the sweltering heat of a vehicle that was not air-conditioned.  

I produced Topo of the Trip as a parallel artwork that documents my experiences as a companion and "consenting captive" on this very remarkable adventure.  In many ways the days were long, hot and boring, and as an artist I was often frustrated to see things along the side of the road that I normally would have stopped to photograph. Our 9-month old son, August, also accompanied us on this trip and in order to keep him and myself entertained, I started making drawings and notations of the journey in a journal that explored my subjective experiences as we traveled.  We camped at night and after cooking dinner and putting the baby to bed, it was too dark and I was too tired to photograph in my normal manner.  However, my camera had a flash attachment and I somehow found the energy to photograph the ground every night where we were camped.  When we returned home, I printed these images that literally became the "ground" for the transferred drawings and notes that I had recorded during each day. 
Topo of the Trip is simultaneously a map, journal and diary that documents a journey of exploration and discovery through inner and outer space while being transported in a sort of insulated "bullet-train" across the North American continent.