A Window Through Time - A collaboration between Troy Nickle, Mark Jirsa, The University of Minnesota and The Minnesota Geological Survey
In 2013 the Colorado Art Ranch and the Leopold Research Institute hosted one-month residencies in six different wilderness biomes throughout the United States. Through the residency I had the opportunity to take a 6-day canoe trip with geologist Mark Jirsa to map an area of Minnesota’s ancient bedrock crust in the Knife Lake region of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, BWCAW. The nearly complete bedrock exposure in the BWCAW allows geologists to see, not only the various rock types, but also the contacts between rock types that illustrate relationships of time, space, and origin. While Mark was conducting research and mapping the rock I noticed him using a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) device to place specific outcrops in geographic space. The GPS uses the Universal Transverse Mercator, (UTM) projection, having resolution that permits location to a 1-meter square. As Mark took the UTM reading and notes of the rock I decided I would create 1-meter frames with indigenous materials – reeds, burnt wood, or stones to outline the UTM locations. The simple gesture of reordering indigenous materials into 1-meter frames would allow me to divide and mark the site as a transect of research and study while acting as visual points in geographic space and as windows looking into an ancient past. After taking documentation of the frame in context to the land I would take an image of the rock within the frame. Later I would dismantle the 1-meter frames as to leave no footprint of our presence in the area. Once back in Lethbridge I would collage my images with Mark’s field notes to highlight the geologist’s research process and the geologic story in context to time and place.