Volcanic Drift

This project is part of an ongoing series of work that uses customized geophones and custom built speakers to listen to sounds traveling below the surface of the earth.

Volcanic Drift presents the subteranean sounds of Yellowstone’s super caldera, lathed into vinyl records, and played back through a pair of custom built subwoofers. Because a portion of this audio extends below the range of human hearing (the infrasonic), these recordings are felt as well as heard. To prevent the records from skipping, the turntable is mounted on a vibration dampening seismically stabalized pedestal designed to absorbe the architectural resonance.

This audio evokes the organic: coursing blood, a beating heart, steady breath. However, it belongs to a system so large as to be indifferent to organic needs. The shape is striated, like layers of sediment. In listening, as the sound drones on surrounding us, we are invited to sift through the acoustic strata, sinking into an alternate space. There is an anxiety here in the deepest layers of the infrasonic. It stems from cataclysm and the latent image of eruptive volcanoes and fractured earth, of burial but also a distant memory of birth. These recordings come from a place inaccessible and inhospitable to our bodies, and in this way they are searching. Instead of looking up and out as we might look at the sky or at the sea, the recordings look down and in. Listening to the earth becomes a kind of time travel, we hear deep echoes of previously untold histories, the geologic past as it carries forward like radio waves into space. In searching this deep we are also trying to see ahead. This project creates a new space, one in which we look to the resonance of rocks as soothsayers. The site of listening becomes a place to ask questions even as we struggle to divine the answers.

The Records hold two recordings each, one on each side. The recordings were made in a remote geyser basin within Yellowstone National Park’s Super Caldera. The caldera, a giant collapsed volcano, has a magma pool that sits just a few thousand feet below the surface, powering the area’s hydrothermal landscape.

None of these recordings are sounds that can be heard above ground. Instead, we’re listening to the gurgle and pop of water boiling below the surface, the thud of steam pushing through vents and a steady low rumble that comes from somewhere and nowhere deep within the earth.

Each record is also a custom made map, rendered from disparate USGS datasets that detail the geology of the park. Each map is unique. The differing colors and markings depict rock type, geologic age, the direction of ancient lava flows, rivers, lakes, subterranean faults and geothermal hotspots. Each face is a geologic portrait of the caldera, the rim of which is shown on every disk. Flipping the records turns the map from day to night. In this way, each record is also a spinning portrait of the earth.

Enact a Preservation

The Resor House was designed by Mies van der Rohe as a summer home for the Resor family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Although the project brought Mies to the United States in 1937, and is represented by over 800 drawings, collages, and models, the home remains relatively unknown, in part because it was destroyed by a flood in 1943.

Enact a Preservation re-envisions the home’s three large picture windows of Mies’ original design. In it two grand mythologies meet for the first time, an iconic American landscape seen through the rectifying lens of high modernism. Little is known about Mies’ time on the ranch, but it was said that he would sit on the foundation pillars of the building site, contemplating the changes in light. The video is a three-channel 45 minute loop made from a single take: a view of the fields and mountains, revealing the slow changes in sunlight as clouds track across the sky. The installation is a hybrid of research and place, the speculative history of a structure, it’s narratives reimagined through an equally speculative archaeology. It is the recovery of an unmade ruin, and the preservation of a view that never existed. 


This two-channel video describes the construction of the scaffolding over the ruined site of Mies van der Rohe’s Resor House. The videos break the artist’s movements into vertical and horizontal acts within the landscape. A gesture of physical research and sculptural intervention. The split is a nod to Mies’ own shift from the horizontal to the vertical as he began the second half of his career in the United States. The Resor project not only brought Mies to the continent, but it became a pivot point in his work, initiating his move to Chicago and the subsequent tipping up of conventional notions of frontierism: changing from the horizontal to the vertical expansion of the fifties and sixties.

Carbonization Preservation

An ongoing body of work exploring the linkages between geology, anthropology and contemporary discourse regarding the anthropocene and its manifold interpretations. Each of these objects was artificially carbonized in custom built kilns.

“I began exploring pyrolysis (carbonization) as a means of shifting an object’s time scale from the biologic towards the geologic, carbonized objects no longer decompose.” The work draws inspiration from the carbonized scrolls of Herculaneum, one of the largest intact if unreadable ancient libraries in the world. Looking at a carbonized object we decode its reference points and tell a story, but its past present and future are fused in a single object. The information conveyed and concealed within will continue to change for us over time, even if the object cannot.

Three sets of architects drawings for the preservation of an historic adobe home in Los Angeles. Along the exterior surface of each scroll, the original drawings can still be seen. The carbonization process preserves as it destroys, entombing knowledge, linking culture to geology.

Detail from an installation in Santorini, Greece. Between 1642–1540 BCE, the island of what was then Thera erupted destroying much of the land mass and the Minoan civilization that lived there. This installation remembers the eruption through a series of carbonized plants that grew from the cracks and crevices of the gallery. Carbonized food stuffs from the ancient Minoans can still be seen on display in the National Archeological Museum of Athens.

A House of Dust

“A house of dust / on open ground / using all available light / inhabited by friends and enemies”
- excerpted from a digital simulation of Alison Knowles and James Tenney,
“A House of Dust” (1967/68) by Zach Whalen

One of the earliest examples of computer generated poetry, “A House of Dust” was a collaboration by Fluxist artist Alison Knowles and composer James Tenney. Creating endless combinations of propositional architectures, landscapes, locations and situations, the randomly assembled four line quatrains of Knowles and Tenney’s poem grounds Benedict & Peter’s investigations into speculative histories, uncanny objects and strange systems of growth.

Overlaying the architecture of Heaven onto itself in such a ways as to re-align the gallery space with Chicago’s grid, Benedict & Peters expose a ghostly architectural space: a framework for repeated objects, actions and videos to occur upon, within and around.

Installed within this reorienting substrate, these projected color fields are algorithmically generated colors of sky and water, derived from live weather data in Chicago. The colors change constantly in accordance with the weather and overlap to form a thin horizon line. Facing this “window” the viewer's body is oriented East toward lake Michigan. It can also be seen as an allusion the pilots’ navigational tool: the artificial horizon.

︎︎ Email, Instagram
Los Angeles