“No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language.” - Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto (1985). Link pg. 32.
Its a late, clear night during the Winter of 2016. From the porch of my little cabin in the Mojave Desert I observe strange lights in the air. They are floating along the mountain rims, 30 kilometres up North. Its not the first time that there, in the distance and above a simulation village some name ‘little Baghdad’, I see the military test their new strange flying machines. At night, I film the lights and record the unexplainable rumblings; the different forms of sound pollution in the otherwise quiet desert. During the day, I drive around, exploring with my binoculars.
I read all of the few magazines in the cabin, issued by CLUI (Center of Land Use Interpretation). They feature research on several military outposts ranging from nuclear test villages in Nevada to the USAF-51 Aerial photo calibration targets. And it is then when I feel no longer like a lost visitor in the desert. The desert, the military and I are connected by our research in resolutions.
This Google maps screenshot depicts a slab of concrete displaying an original USAF-51 resolution target, a two-dimensional optical artefact that was used for the development and calibration of aerial photography, following a measurement sometimes refered to as Ground Resolved Distance.
The resolution of an aerial photograph can be described as “a GRD > 0,5 m;” meaning that objects of 0,5m or larger can be detected or interpreted from the image in question. Smaller objects presumably will not be resolved and, therefore, are not interpretable.
The history of these targets is shrouded in mystery and their locations are hard to track down. Even CLUI (the Center for Land Use Interpretation) in LA had no information about their location for me. During a long Google Maps stumble session, I suddenly roll over the coordinates of one of the huge slabs of concrete. Surprisingly, its location is rather close: a 3hrs drive North West of the cabin, East of the Mojave Base ‘Fort Irwin’. Its a pilgrimage that needs to be prepared - its not clear if the dirt roads leading to the lonesome, decommissioned slab of concrete are maintained. But the slab of obsolete technology speaks to me: it is the first physical embodiment of my research.
︎ corona test targets near Casa Grande @google maps
A PROPOSAL FOR:
Decalibration TargetA DCT resolution target for decalibration, in the Mojave Desert.
Inspired by the USAF-51 Resolution Target, I wish to build a Decalibration Target. Located in the Mojave Desert, in line with the locations of the orginal USAF-51 test patterns West of the Black Mountain Wilderness and East of the Edwards Air Force Base.
But instead of featuring a USAF-51 resolution pattern, the target will carry a message for decalibration, written in DCT (Discrete Cosine Transform). By doing so, the work that will tie together different parts of an Ecology of Compression Artefacts.
In time, the target will be documented by Google Earth, a documentation that I welcome as part of the work.
The project will reach over the boarders of the digital art, as it combines many of parts of our daily life (military, art, Google navigation). The project aims to bring together these institutions, to instigate possible conversation. At the same time, the project reflects on practices of 1960s and 1970s land art, which were never build to visit, but just to be referenced as a photo in a catalogue, and frames these tradition within a contemporary framework.
Background writing / research:
▚▛ On resolution
▚▛ On racial bias in resolution test cards
▚▛ On file formats
▚▛ On the JPEG compression
▚▛ On DCT
▚▛ An Ecology of Compression Complexities
Proposal for a solo show.
- possible Decalibration Target
- video on color test cards [letting Lena talk]
- Release of Beyond Resolution catalogue
- prints of an Ecology of Compression Ecologies
mock up of the Decalibration Target.