Artist Page proposal: Geological Mapping over 5 days

As part of my practice-based PhD, fieldwork/fieldwalking: art, sauntering and science in the walkingcountry (2003-2006), I worked with a geologist over 5 days to produce a geological map of a small catchment in the Kimberley of Western Australia that was my field site. I was interested in the physicality of everyday encounters with working landscapes – as opposed to tourist or recreational framings. By actively participating in the mapping process I hoped to gain insight into the materiality of mapping and to look for similarities and differences in how we both understood landscapes. The geological mapping lead to my articulation of the concept of “ordinary wilderness”: much of one’s time in the field is involved in pragmatic and bodily encounters and ‘conversations’ with the nonhuman elements are emphasized. In an ordinary wilderness, subtle wonder is prized over awe and the sublime. There is an oscillation between familiarity and strangeness, not because we do not belong to places but because through small acts of wonder our “belonging is itself brought to light” (Malpas, 2005, p. 3).

Geologist Series


As we mapped our field conversations were recorded over the five days using radio lapel mics. Flies, stumbles, arguments, phatic chatter, all interrupted our geological discoveries. These raw unedited recordings formed the basis of a durational sound installation Geological Mapping over 5 days. The process also lead to a series of photographs, the Geologist Series, which, in combination with conversations extracts and the geological map produced, would form the basis of the artist’s page.

Other artworks from the PhD available here

Malpas, J. E. (2005). Beginning in wonder. Draft presentation paper given as a talk in 2005.