Stones on a Cartesian Plane

Cairns are a wonderfully ambiguous form of communication.  They are not messages to be read; they are visual cues for an ongoing internal narrative, an encoded communique decipherable only to those who know the reasons behind its construction. Each one has a story to tell, but without knowledge of its origins, a cairn’s beholder is limited to the most basic of interpretations: “someone was here”.

To encounter a cairn in the landscape is to realize that another person had an experience of or within a geographic location that was deemed worthy of sharing with others.  More significantly, as spectators we feel as though this pile of stones has been left specifically for us.

As social beings, we are compelled to share our experiences with others.  To see that another person once existed where we stand is comforting.  It tells us that we are not alone - that others out there found, or produced meaning in the landscape.  A bond of kindred spirit is formed between maker and viewer, spanning across time, anchored in space.

To assemble a cairn, on the other hand, is to develop an intensely personal relationship with time and space, through which the builder internalizes his/her surroundings while simultaneously externalizing the experience for others to encounter in the future.  Repeating this act becomes a mantra of self-affirmation: “I exist in this moment. I exist in this moment...”

These photographs speak to an inherent desire to connect with others, in some form or another, and the solace that results from such a simple, yet beautifully complex, gesture.