In my creative practice I create works that speak to the land and the waves of communication that are not visually evident to the naked eye, using the media of photography, digital imaging, GPS, and video. By addressing the issues surrounding the technologies that dictate our navigation and understanding of the world around us, I seek to better understand how this molds the comprehension of the specificity of a place. I am particularly interested in the influence of major events, whether they be natural or man-made, and how they inform the way we go about navigating and remembering a place.
I have always tracked my bike rides through the city, using simple Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The GPS would map my movements using the standard linear formatting commonly used in cartographic records, ultimately leaving a distinct red line that would trace my trails at the macro level. In earlier work, I layered these lines as drawings over the course of a year, forming abstract yet recognizable patterns of my meanderings, recognizable because these technologies, such as GPS, have so rapidly normalized in our everyday lives.
Soon it became apparent to me that there existed inaccuracies with this technology. Not only are there literal inaccuracies in the way satellites communicate with our devices, even if they can be considered negligible, but there were also translational gaps in the stories being told. These devices that we allow to dictate, and trace, our movements from place to place, say nothing of the experience of doing so.
These photographs use GPS technology and photography to etch within an image the performative memory of my body’s presence in a space. By performing this gesture multiple times in the same place, I not only build a body of work using a unique type of mark-making, but am also experimenting with new ways of knowing—of exploring the collective memory of a place, now archived by way of photography and digital cartography. The tracing of the paths combines both method and meditation, as the walking functions ritualistically for me. Each of the locations was chosen based on each site functioning as a certain repository of a collective memory surrounding the specific place. Like my interest in the inaccuracies of modern technology, I am similarly interested in the inaccuracies of cultural memory, and I seek to challenge the ways in which we navigate and remember any experience.
By calling into question the degree to which we allow such controlling technology to skew the “Truth” of our everyday lives, I also question how we then perceive the world, as much of our knowledge is now derived from a digital archive and less from our own lived experiences.
Jess Peri was born in Dallas, Texas in 1989 and received a BFA from the University of North Texas (2012) and an MFA from the University of New Mexico (2018). He resides in Taos, New Mexico and is currently Lecturer at the University of New Mexico-Taos. Peri’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Albuquerque Museum (Albuquerque, NM), the SRO Photo Gallery (Lubbock, TX), the Millepiani Exhibition Space (Rome, Italy), the Lionel Rombach Gallery (Tempe, AZ), and the Yuma Center for the Arts (Yuma, AZ), among others. Peri’s work has been featured by Fraction Magazine, Glasstire, and D Magazine.
Jess Peri. Columbia Shuttle Debris Field, Montalba, Texas: 2.1.2003, 2018.
Archival pigment photograph. 21”x 40”. Courtesy of the artist.