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September 23, 2014

Kim Stringfellow & The Mojave Project

Written by  Kimberly Johnson
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Collecting pink halite at the 72nd Gem-O-Rama, Trona, CA 2013 Collecting pink halite at the 72nd Gem-O-Rama, Trona, CA 2013 © Kim Stringfellow 2013-2014

Kim Stringfellow is becoming a pioneer in her specific brand of art and analysis. Her multi-layered media project, Jackrabbit Homestead—consisting of a book, downloadable audio tour and website—forever altered the scope of possibilities for the examination of a certain place in a certain time.

Stringfellow is a revered Joshua Tree resident, San Diego State University professor of photography and a visionary in research based art endeavors. 2009’s Jackrabbit Homestead chronicled the cryptic tale of the mostly decrepit cabins and shacks built in Joshua Tree’s Morongo Basin during America’s Small Tract Act in the late ‘30s and on.

Now, she is in the beginning stages of venturing out on a new endeavor entitled The Mojave Project, described as a “transmedia documentary exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert.” Here, Stringfellow uses her curiosity and resources to create a dialogue exploring the desert landscape, its inhabitants and its story.

Kimberly Johnson: The varying themes examined in The Mojave Project are as follows: “Desert as Wasteland; Geological Time vs. Human Time; Sacrifice and Exploitation; Danger and Consequence; Space and Perception; Mobility and Movement; Desert as Staging Ground; Transformation and Reinvention." Which theme supplied the most artistic or personal gratification for you to examine? 

Kim Stringfellow: All of these! Many contemporary artists are documenting the cultural landscape and notions of place within their work. My artistic practice is research based. I use field research methods of cultural geographers to closely examine the sites I am interested in as a subject. All of these topics and themes can be documented visually through photography and film as well as through other media such as writing and audio. I work as a transmedia artist with my projects, disseminating them in a variety of ways including printed publications and installation exhibits each with their own unique presentation of the subject. Part of this project is about sharing my documentation as I'm conducting research in an effort to involve my audience while the project is being created. Keep in mind that this project has just begun and will be conducted over a 2 to 3 year period so there is a lot to cover!

KJ: Can you explain what "Desert Dispatchers" are?

KS: Desert Dispatches are what I'm calling my bi-monthly in-depth blog installments for the project. These will focus on a variety of subjects related to the Mojave Desert and will be conducted over a 2 to 3 year research period. I hope to keep people interested in the project month to month by mixing the topics up. For instance, I may do a piece on amateur rocketry clubs in the desert for one installment and then contrast this with one concerning Devil's Hole pupfish at Ash Meadows for the next. Many of these dispatches will include an audio feature. The Desert Dispatches are co-published through the project website at mojaveproject.org and through KCET Artbound.

KJ: What were some vital things you’ve learned so far while creating this project? Either about the location, yourself or a combination?

KS: Well, I've just launched the project this month so it’s a bit early to comment. Still, through my initial research I've learned a lot so far. In fact, so much that I can't wait to share it with the public.

So please sign-up to receive notification for the Desert Dispatches at mojaveproject.org. Keep your ears open and eyes peeled as Stringfellow’s The Mojave Project continues to unfold.

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