Sept 6-26, 2013 deep water run (soundings from cheyenne ave) by Walt Kosty
deep water run (soundings from cheyenne ave) by Walt Kosty Sept 6-26, 2013
Deep Water Run (soundings from cheyenne avenue) is about remembering; a remembering that (re)awakens a sense of place. I call these expressions of remembering 'soundings', borrowing the term from the ancient nautical practice of sending out a line with a weight at the end in order to determine the depth of the water and also to bring up samples from the bottom. These (soundings from Cheyenne Avenue) are navigational experiments, recording the depth and sampling the undercurrent that flows through and beneath the city of Tulsa, along Cheyenne.
What began as a poem written two years ago, 'deep water run' led to a series of photographs shot along Cheyenne Avenue from 21st South to 65th Pl North during late winter through spring of 2013. I later asked other Tulsa artists to lend their creative articulations to the piece. Contributing artists include: Edward Boen, Ralph Bendel Jr., Chuck Tomlins, Cynthia Brown and dancers from Portico Dans, Living Water, TuMM and Soluna dance troupes. Through nine specific sites, (lieux de memoire) or places of memory on Cheyenne, I hope to create a place where collective memory can at least momentarily, be held.
The first platting of the city of Tulsa, occurred in 1901, just over 110 years ago. In the next three decades this small town in Indian Territory developed rapidly, bolstered by the discovery of oil but also in large part due to the collective efforts of its founders to push aside the agrarian lifestyle and aggressively promote and encourage it’s reinvention as a cosmopolitan metropolis that would become the “Oil Capital of the World”.
Technological advancements during this same time period have given us the tools to stay connected in ways we could not have imagined 100 years ago; these same tools have created a new form of community no longer dependent upon shared histories or bound together geographically, which has lead to a form of disassociation from place. Paradoxically, we are disconnected from one another, from our traditions and from a collective past by these same tools and creations that connect us.
“We are accelerating into the stream of time at a speed beyond our ability to fully grasp”’.
This process has been referred to as the "acceleration of history", a notion first put forward by Daniel Halévy, the essence of which is that the most permanent feature of the modern world is no longer continuity or permanence but change. As we accelerate ahead, the past retreats at an equally rapid pace. It is within this directional flow that what we today call "memory” is but a form of memory; a reconfiguration that was called "history" in the past. It has been said that memory is dependent upon topography, but how is cultural memory impacted within the "acceleration of history"? Relationship with place occurs over time; the sense of familiarity that ensues can lend itself to a broadening of one’s appreciation and understanding and yet it may also bring about a degree of complacency. As we become comfortable, aspects of the locale become commonplace or so ingrained we no longer notice or feel impacted by them.
Using language to describe our sense of a place does not quite accurately touch upon the dialogue between us and our surroundings; to say that a place or object speaks to or resonates with us implies, suggests at and yet simplifies the complexity of this connection. It is both raw and beautiful, cultivated and offensive, it is blood, bone, skin, dirt, air and water tuning in some ineffable way that is more a sense, a feeling that is primarily visceral in nature and yet informed by our ongoing physical interaction with it.
“Sounding”, a term now primarily used in the sciences to describing methods of measurement and exploration, is a mechanism of probing the environment by sending out some type of stimulus. It is derived from an ancient nautical practice of determining the depth of water (making a sounding) by feeding out a line with a weight at the end.
As far back as 6th century BC, and long before the compass or GPS, ancient mariners used sounding-weights as a navigational tool not only to determine the depth of water, but also to bring up samples of the bottom, comparing the result with their knowledge of coastal geography and river behavior.
deep water run (soundings from cheyenne avenue)
These (soundings from Cheyenne Avenue) began simply enough with a series of photographs shot from my car. I extended the interactions to include dance and musical interpretation and video and sound recordings. My time frame for the soundings was late January through late April 2013, evoking a sense of the seasonal transition from winter into spring and the cyclic idea of dormancy and reawakening.
They are navigational experiments, testing the depth of the undercurrent that flows through and beneath the city along a pathway recently imposed on the landscape, examining our relationship with Tulsa present-past-future while articulating sentiments that may invoke memories as a response to the geography of a place.
There is a magic to great streets ... They are symbols of a community and of its history;
they represent a public memory. Allan B. Jacobs, Great Streets, pp. 9–11
Cheyenne Avenue is a major north-south thoroughfare in Tulsa, that runs from 65th Place North to South 21st Street. Through the Central Business District, or ‘downtown” the avenue is one way heading south until 13th Street when it becomes a divided road accepting two-way traffic. At 1st Street heading north it is a two way road until it ends at 65th Place North.
I have chosen nine sites along Cheyenne that serve as memory repositories.
18th & South Cheyenne - Stickball Park, Creek Council Tree,
14th & South Cheyenne - Temple Israel, Tradition Hall
11th & South Cheyenne - Church Loop, intersection with Route 66
4th - 5th & South Cheyenne - Denver Bus Station, Mayo Parking Garage, Mayo Hotel
North & South Cheyenne - Frisco Railway, division between north and south Tulsa
Fairview & North Cheyenne - Entrance to Brady Heights Historic District
Queen & North Cheyenne - John Starks Park, Cheyenne Park
28th Street N & Cheyenne - Robert Frost Elementary
46th Street N & Cheyenne - Tulsa Dream Center
These sites, (lieux de memoire) or places of memory, were chosen based on a number of factors, including their historical relevance, locations where people converge or gather and in part based on the “method of loci” but I also wanted to represent the entire span of the road from 65th Place North & Cheyenne to 21st and S. Cheyenne.
To further enhance the idea of “lieux de memoire” through these sites, I enlisted a musician and multiple dancers from Tulsa based dance troupes to work independent of one another to articulate responses to the locations. The “soundings” articulated at each site through dance were recorded and will serve as a counter-balance to the still images shot for the exhibit. The musician’s soundscape is based on the ambient sounds captured at the locations and his articulation of the places musically. Although created independent of the movement the resulting video will layer these two elements into a singular expression.
The physical exhibition is an expression of both natural and recorded elements; multiple video projections will enliven the existing walls of the gallery, while the nine sites represented as “trees” will be interactive memory repositories placed with a “forest bed”of pine mulch. Viewers are encouraged to move from one “tree” to another as a journey along the “memory places” of Cheyenne. Within the exhibit will also be a series of photographs shot during the sounding process and a selection of altered maps of the community. At some point during the exhibit, a reiteration of the movement generated by the dancers at the individual sites is planned.
As a continuation of the work, a website where viewers will be able to take a virtual tour of the entire extent of Cheyenne Avenue, with the “lieux de memoire” being points of interest and interactivity along the journey is currently in development:
- Concept & Photography: Walt Kosty
- Musician: Ralph Bendel Jr.
- Videographer & Editor: Edward Boen
- Altered Maps: Cynthia Brown
- Installation Consultant: Chuck Tomlins
- Movement: Portico Dans Theatre:Jennifer Alden; Michael Lopez, Laura Cash, Heather
- Rasmussen - Soluna Performing Arts Group: Megan McKown Miller - Living Water
- Dance Company: Amy Roark-Mcintosh - TuMM Dance Theatre: Ari Christopher