The Wildfire Maps explore humanity’s relationship with - and control over - the environment in which we live. Our social condition today is set within a mapped space wherein we know our location with ever increasing precision; pinpointed by satellites, directed by signs; in a world seemingly measured and controlled. A changing climate, however, demands we rethink our relationship to the environment, as well as our principal aesthetic product of communication about it: maps.
To engage this rethinking, the Wildfire Maps series recreates maps of fires that ravaged the West in the summer of 2015 and presents them divorced from context – butterflies pinned to sterile boards. Devoid of signifiers like roads and state lines they instead render the haptic and variable nature of the fire: its ashes, the winds that channel it through mountainous terrain, live wood transforming from raw white to burnt red to ebony char; and allow the fire to emerge as a living organism that challenges its controlled representation.
Like the fire destroys one landscape to create anew, its variable nature destroys the legitimacy of traditionally delineated maps and offers us the opportunity to reinvent a model of communication about our world more transitional, nuanced, and real.