for spacious skies

Some of my earliest memories are of looking out up through a car window. I was small enough that I couldn’t see the road, cars, or really anything at ground level, so my world was one of clouds, treetops, telephone lines, poles, overpasses, and of course the beautiful blue sky.

The memories are just flashes really: the trees of my street forming a canopy; the twisting of that interstate exchange we sometimes took to go see family in other state; the soft roar of the road. All filled with a liminal sort of wonder, a kind of knowing there was something more out there while also not really knowing.

for spacious skies was inspired in part by these memories. For this project, I used the Google Streetview APIs to capture tens of thousands of images of the sky for a drive across the United States. I chose a transcontinental route that follows I-80 for its entire length of more than 2,900 miles. I extended the route slightly on each end so that it starts in Times Square and finishes in the center of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I then combined these images into a video. It’s 43 hours long, which is just about the time driving all of I-80 would take. This video is projected on the ceiling using a small projector. The projector runs the video on a loop, crossing the United State from east to west, turning back to go west to east, and so on and so on.

A highly sped up version of the video

It’s oddly soothing to lay on the floor and watch the American sky slowly rolling along above. Kind of boring too to be honest. After all, the sky in California looks pretty much like the sky in Ohio, with only the occasional overpass or streetlight to break things up. It’s mundane, familiar, yet quietly beautiful too.

As I lay there, my thoughts again begin to drift. I wonder where we are now? What I would see if I could look around? Who do you think lives here? What is their story, their fears, their hopes? Where are they heading? Where are we heading? The unseen road below rolling ever along through the American expanse. Thinking about it too much sometime makes me feel uneasy. I look away, close my eyes. But then I force myself to look up again. And there above is the sky. The sky I remember. The sky that so many see and have seen. The same sky, always.

Road noise credit visionear