Artist's Statement

Jordan Putt

archival inkjet prints / 24 x 30 inches

'Field Book' is a body of work that I began in 2016 while working as a Land Surveyor for the City of Tucson, Arizona. Learning the trade from my father from the early age of 12, each day I would walk through the desert landscape, using GPS to mark property boundaries and record map coordinates. I became interested in the way that land surveys and photographic expeditions recorded the landscape and, in so doing, shaped historic conceptions of the American West. From the photographers who accompanied the early survey expeditions, to the documentary surveys of the FSA in the 1930’s, photography has been essential to characterizing the shifting social and physical landscape of the western United States. In each case, the earlier documentary surveys were performed during historic moments which called for us to look inward to understand the physical and social fabric that made up our country at the time. Noticing a similar historic shift in the American social structure at the beginning of 2016, I began to look inward at my hometown.

Working within the same documentary tradition and covering the same region as many of the early surveys, ‘Field Book’ adds a contemporary perspective to the ongoing narrative of the western United States. In a region just an hour north of the contested borderlands of the United States-Mexico border, this work examines a more complicated relationship to the western landscape, one that counters the tropes of weathered miners in the mountains or heroic cowboys. Instead, we can peak into those living on the fringes of the western frontier and find familiarities within our own lives. 'Field Book' ultimately compiles archival survey documents with my own photographs of childhood friends, strangers and landscapes to create a visual survey of the city that raised me: Tucson, Arizona.