I built this piece with the intention of creating a meditative space inset into the earth that viewers could walk into. The piece is a memorial to the forest fire that occurred in Alberta, Canada in the spring of 2016; it was an unprecedented, uncontrollable natural disaster, burning 1,500,000 acres of land and displacing over 13,000 people from the town of Fort McMurry and the surrounding area. This region of Alberta is also where the largest extraction of oil sands in Canada takes place, an extremely costly and environmentally detrimental industry that has shaped the landscape within the region and continues our society’s dependence on oil. While the direct cause of the fire is not known, the extremely dry weather conditions and abnormal heat contributed to the fire’s rapid growth. As we continue to heat up the earth through our extraction and consumption of non-renewable resources, these kinds of natural disasters will increase exponentially; this forest fire felt like a resounding warning sign from the earth.
The work is composed of charred wooden blocks, which form a grid-like modular pattern. This pattern is in reference to the Cartesian coordinate system, developed by Rene Descartes in the 17th century as a mathematical way to represent dimensional space on a coordinate plane. I see this system of knowledge and approach to how we order and measure space as a precursor to human’s assumed dominance over our environment and in turn our relationship with the planet.
photos by Dale Brose