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Erosion & Accretion - What will 3700+ miles do to a sandstone hood ornament?

 The sandstone hood ornament in Castle Valley. Can distance and travel speed produce erosion that approximates the passage of deep time and natural aeolian erosion?

The sandstone hood ornament in Castle Valley. Can distance and travel speed produce erosion that approximates the passage of deep time and natural aeolian erosion?

French/Swiss filmmaker & artist Guillaume Le Vallois recently emailed me to ask if Geologic Cognition Society wanted to participate in his documentary/roving performance project/Spinoza tribute: Conatus Taxi. Of course I said yes.

 Geologic Cognition Society explores accretion & erosion for Conatus Taxi - Dru McKeown installing the analog sensors (July 2015). American Courage floats by in the background near Ohio City.

Geologic Cognition Society explores accretion & erosion for Conatus Taxi - Dru McKeown installing the analog sensors (July 2015). American Courage floats by in the background near Ohio City.

The idea behind the project is simple, a yellow taxi drives from New York City to the California coast, stopping in cities along the way to ask artists this question: What Drives You?

This is an easy question for me to answer - it's change that drives me. GeoCog responded with a two-part project looking at the ideas of change in the form of accretion and erosion. These are both basic geological processes, whether it is the depositional bank of a river bend or the slow dissolve of rock faces from constant abrasion by wind and dust. Can we use distance to approximate the length of geologic time necessary to erode a sandstone block? Accretion and erosion also happen in cities with the build up of form and the deterioration of function. Can we reveal traces of the anthropocene in road dust? Since GeoCog works within a research-driven framework, it only made sense for our contribution to Conatus Taxi to be a research instrument looking at these types of questions. So Dru McKeown and I cooked up two different analog sensors that were installed on the car the last week in July.

accretion - Geologic Cognition Society - Conatus Taxi

We're measuring accretion with the accumulation of debris gathered in two blocks of heat-resistant wax blends mounted at shallow angles. As bugs and sand and dust and road grit bounce around the freeway we're hoping some of it will stick in the wax, a captured record that will offer a mapping between distance and chronological deposition. Will we be able to tell where each grain of sand came from? Probably not, but we might get a good sense of the order of accumulation and we might be able to conjecture about rough coordinates.

 Yes, those are electrical boxes repurposed to hold our sandstone block...we had 3 days to come up with something.

Yes, those are electrical boxes repurposed to hold our sandstone block...we had 3 days to come up with something.

We're measuring erosion with the mass wasting of a sandstone hood ornament. We cut a slab of sandstone and mounted it in a frame after taking a "before" picture by 3D scanning the block at the Cleveland Public Library. Once the taxi makes it to the west coast we'll have the block 3D scanned again to build a model that will let us see how much of the stone eroded away during the cross-country road trip. 

We're pretty excited about this contribution and if you have time, check out ConatusTaxi.com to see the roster of artists, project description and the full itinerary.