Virtually There was realized during residencies at the Gushul Studio and The Banff Centre in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Fall of 2009. Before leaving for these residencies, I spent one month taking virtual 'trips' online. I examined historic photographs of the mountains, topographic maps, and images and GPS tracks on websites. After considering this data, I composed views of the Rockies in Google Earth. Upon arriving in the mountains, I re-enacted these simulated explorations, and created photographs from the same vantage points using a large format camera. The title of the Google views are the latitude and longitude for my apartment in Montréal, where I created the image. The title of the real-world photographs are the GPS coordinates of the location where the shutter was released.
I also created a series of drawings made by recording my path with a GPS. I isolated my track from the map, placed it on a white ground and plotted it according to pace (the darker the line, the quicker my speed). They resemble graphite drawing in quality, but are ink jet prints on Tyvek - the same material that waterproof maps are printed on. The titles of the works express the duration of time that is represented in each print, for example, 2 hours, 10 minutes, 35 seconds.
View from Mount Temple, a hardcover artist book that is a record of my 9-hour trip climbing Mount Temple, deconstructs the modern convention of translating data into graphic form by presenting plain text GPS data, which is practically unintelligible as raw information, in the form of a journal. This bland, homogeneous text functions as analogous to early accounts of exploration, often filled with tedious factual data such as weather conditions, distances travelled, reckoning of positions, and the passage of time. There is a custom-made topographic map in the back which folds out revealing my trip and the surrounding landscape.
Two video works made by capturing custom-made tours in Google Earth form the final component. In Caché, I position a virtual ʻcameraʼ and without changing its position, I empty the softwareʼs cache. The landscape begins to materialize as the software downloads data and rebuilds the terrain. Best General View, on the other hand, is a time-lapse sunset to sunrise from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. There is a longstanding photographic tradition in Yosemite, from 19th century landscapes by Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge, through to a renewed interest by contemporary artists. My Best General View was made without ever looking through a viewfinder, or having visited Yosemite; it is the product of a virtual exploration.