Deep Green, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Jackson County, Oregon, July 20, 2019. 4K video (3840 x 2160, color, stereo sound), 24 hours. The video embedded above is a two-minute compilation of 20-second excerpts taken from different times of day.
Deep Green is a 24-hour-long archival landscape recording. Captured in single take, it is meant to be shown in sync with the time of day so that at 11am, for example, one sees and hears what was recorded at 11am. The Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland, Oregon commissioned Deep Green, exhibited it online in 2020, and accessioned it in 2023.
"To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle." - Walt Whitman
Our planet is in the midst of an unprecedented ecological transition. It goes by various names: climate change, mass extinction, the Anthropocene. As an artist who makes landscape pictures, I am struck by the fact that even the most carefully protected wilderness areas will, over the coming decades, be radically transformed. What will our few remaining wild places look and sound like a century from now? It was with this question in mind that I set out to make a series of archival landscape recordings that capture the preciousness and fragile beauty of nature on the brink and, equally important, preserve for future generations a kind of wilderness experience that is itself endangered.
The first film in the series, New Nature, Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County, New York, October 15, 2016 has been exhibited widely and was acquired by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, ensuring its long-term preservation. I hope to place future recordings in other museum collections, to exhibit them in art spaces, and also to present them in nature centers, hospitals and other venues where they might reach broader audiences.
In this work, I am interested in the traditions of Western landscape painting and photography, and how they reflect our changing ideas about the natural world. If, for example, we understand the paintings of the Hudson River School and the frontier photographs of Carlton Watkins and his peers as expressions of manifest destiny, what kinds of landscape images might flow from the ideology of environmentalism in an age of climate change and mass extinction, as we come to realize that even the wildest places are being transformed by human impact?
In 2019, I received a grant from the Puffin Foundation for the production of this project. That same year, I also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to complete Deep Green.
The following video, made for Kickstarter, explains the project in 2 minutes:
Deep Green, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monu- ment, Jackson County, Oregon, July 20, 2019. 2-minute video for Kickstarter Campaign.
Keegan Van Hook
Puffin Foundation & Sourdough Chapter of the Backcountry Horseman of Oregon
Medium: "People say making art in times of crisis is like fiddling while Rome burns, or like the musicians on the Titanic who kept playing as the ship went down. I'm like, 'Play on'".