• Posted October 02, 2015
    Friends and Supporters,
    Good news from other funders: Confluence has received a $4,000 grant from the Jiji Foundation, whose mission is to support research, conservation and education on environmental issues in California and Baja California. These funds will add to the leverage of your contributions in project development. Later this month I will be back in Reno presenting Confluence to the City's Public Art Committee, requesting their support. And I will be working at the University of Nevada archives, looking for handwriting to use for the Reno installation. There has also been some progress for the Mammoth Lakes installation. The ideal site there turns out to be a shared jurisdiction between the Town of Mammoth and Caltrans. Both entities are open to the idea but their overlap will require a bit more process for approvals.

    I am also shifting to a different format for project updates. In the future I will be using MailChimp to send emails, more or less monthly, with project news. This allows me to include a broader audience than my Hatchfund network, although I will continue to post occasionally here as well. Emails will come under my name, and you can unsubscribe at any time. I have transferred your emails to that list. if for some reason you have not received these updates (two so far), please let me know! Here are the links: http://eepurl.com/bzwYa5 and http://eepurl.com/bxuOMv

    In the photos:
    Experimental channels at Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, where UC Riverside grad student Parsa Saffarinia has been assessing biotic changes under different flow regimes - each "stream" is identical to the others in shape, but is allowed a different amount of water to run through. The drone is his, as we ended up photographing each other photographing. Lots of smoke from the Rough fire forty miles away to the southwest, and a gathering of petroglyphs in the Owens Valley, from a people who knew very well the preciousness and management of water in this area.
    Thank you all for your support of this project; your interest and generosity is fantastically encouraging. Todd
  • Posted August 20, 2015
    Stream life in my home mountains - carnivorous plants, underwater photos, teamwork and sustained attention. in the Northern Sierras I'm surveying streams and their tributaries with David Herbst and his team of invertebrate biologists. We're taking an astonishing array of measurements of hundred-and-fifty meter sections, so that insect populations - the real basis of local stream food chains and a primary indicator of ecosystem health - can be correlated to changes in water and air temperature, shape of channel, flow velocity, water chemistry and other things. I joined them for four of twenty-four sites they've been monitoring every year for six years. For the next ten days I will have a desk in the lab where they sort out the sampled algae and invertebrates, and log the measurements into databases. More to come...
  • Posted July 30, 2015
    The final close of the fundraiser extension is tomorrow, another reason to appreciate your donations and share the preliminary work of my residency in Belfast. The images are of my work-spot and test prints, fragments written in the handwriting of WR Rodgers and Florence Patterson (by me), and two longer texts about the geography of Belfast, in their hands, one with the Lagan River system below - Belfast would be at the river's mouth, the bottom right of the image.
  • Posted July 12, 2015
    These fluid scripts - see my test prints below - and this landscape full of shifting boundaries between land, sky and water. The work continues...
  • Posted June 29, 2015
    Dear friends and project supporters - with two days left in the fundraising process I want again to thank you for your wonderful encouragement and support. I am hard at work with the font-making process, grooming individual letters so they flow one to the next. It is a bit crazy-making but I love being in the entrails of language and expect the result will be something uncanny. A sneak preview is included - of the process of grooming letters and testing them with a bit of poetry I love and remember. It's Musa Guston's words, wife of the painter Phillip Guston, in handwriting I've fashioned from WR Rodgers' poetry notes. With a great big thank you for your enabling generosity - and the project has barely begun!
  • Posted June 24, 2015
    Florence PattersonTodd Gilens
    Incredible, the stories I’m stumbling into.

    Looking for historical handwriting of Northern Irish women, today at the Public Records Office I found eight letters from Florence Patterson, one of the first three architects to become licensed in the UK. Her handwriting, probably with a fountain pen, is easy, flowing and open. She writes in response to Rodger Sawyer in 1972, of what she knew through her family of Rodger Casement, an Irish nationalist who was hung for treason fifty-six years earlier. A renowned human rights campaigner, Casement was alleged of promiscuous homosexuality based on diaries that were suspected as forged. In 2002 a handwriting analysis was permitted, confirming, for some, their authenticity. But I am working with Ms Patterson’s script…

    And, gleefully, I got my first draft of a script font yesterday, a version of W R Rodgers handwriting. Rodgers (1909-1969) was a Belfast-born minister whose poetry
    notebooks I encountered almost at random in the Public Records Office. His writing practice led him away from the Church to produce radio stories for the BBC, and eventually to California where he taught at Pitzer and then Cal Poly. He died where I was born, in Los Angeles.

    Here’s one of my ‘tests’. It hasn’t yet the spring and compressed energy of his writing, much is lost in loosing the tiny variations of letters adapting to their neighbors; and some of the capitals and punctuation are missing too. So, more to be done here; back to work now.
  • Posted June 19, 2015
    Author: William Robert Rodgers, 1909-1969
    A resounding thank you to everyone who has contributed or commented: the project has received over $5,000. Hooray for everybody! Your encouragement is inspiring.

    My plans are coming together for field work in the Sierras: reserving space at Sagehen Creek Field Station by Truckee and Reno, and SNARL (Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab) near Mammoth Lakes. I will also be tent camping with David Herbst’s research team for several days before arriving at Sagehen Meadows. I'll reach out to you again when I'm there in August.

    At present I’m excavating the literary and physical geography of Belfast, UK in a residency at the Digital Arts Studios. A scrappy, beautiful and complicate place, Belfast was built straddling a tributary at the mouth of a river valley. Everyone seems to know that the tributary, the Farset, is buried under the town – just as it is buried in the Irish name Biel Faerst, now Anglicized to Belfast. A perfect place to ask how natural watercourses and topography can retain a mysterious presence in urbanized places.

    Very warmly, thanks again for helping me realize this remarkable opportunity.

Texts along the sidewalks of Reno, San Francisco and Mammoth Lakes tell about stream processes, land changes and personal agency.