Horizontal Gates, Parallel Openings

steel cattle guard, drywall, with projection and audio

11ft x 13ft x 22ft


A projection of barbed wire and fence posts passing by privately owned farms and ranches offers a sense of movement through the western landscape. The video is captured from a car window, which is a common point of view or understanding that most humans have of the landscape. The sound of gravel hitting the underside of a moving vehicle as it drives over a dirt road can be heard emanating from the hollow drywall wings of the cattle guard, which have been turned into resonating, vibrating speaker boxes in order to activate the object. The sound emphasizes the sense of audible space within the rural landscape and its distinct noises. The visual tick of fence posts passing by is reminiscent of a metronome, further emphasizing the idea of lines and borders within the landscape, parcel plotting, and land use. Through this comparison, I wish to bring attention to the ways that sound has played an important role in the critical reading of the shaping of the rural western landscape. 

Within the gallery, the cattle guard becomes an obstacle that defines the viewer’s movement, while simultaneously serving as a platform for viewing the work. Through objects such as cattle guards, barbed wire fences, and plowed fields, humans have claimed their dominance over the shaping of the land. The cattle guard is an object that is contradictory in structure -- both a barrier and an opening at the same time (a horizontal gate) and dictates how humans and animals move through a defined space. Throughout history, the western landscape has been defined by visually idealized images of wide-open plains, massive mountain ranges, and untraveled canyons, all of which have been plotted with fences sewn into the earth by barbed wire and posts. Western classical music is no exception to this gridding, defining its own borders and lines with staves, rests, key signatures, and the like. Within Horizontal Gates, Parallel Openings, I am interested in creating an understood relationship between humans and the land, brought about through agricultural practices as well as the practice of music-making. This relationship acknowledges the politics surrounding land and property ownership and the borders that are created within.