Beginning in the summer of 2010 Topographia Collective formed to explore the reality of an “off the grid” social and geographic landscape through the PLAND residency. Prior to our initial physical presence on the land and subsequent to our arrival, we learned of various utopian projects pursued upon the land we were exploring. A nascent suburban development with it's parcels given as gifts at the World's Fair, a hippy commune with interesting and now abandoned DIY architectural monuments based loosely on native processes, and a haven for unregulated drug production, all presented themselves among the bulldozed dirt roads checkering the land. Among others, we have encountered our hosts who are living a difficult existence with the dream of forming a vibrant artist's retreat, older individuals who have found the cheap land auction purchases the only viable way to effectively retire in a world where pensions have turned to dust or after a life of under the radar living that didn't allow for the accumulation of a retirement fund, and compounds protected by wild dogs.
After various investigations of PLAND’s territory the Topographia Collective has chosen to develop a response to the land as an exploration of the utopias that are generated by the collapse of individual utopian dreams. What gets built from the wreckage of a failed utopia? How do we use remnant technologies to explore that territory? How do we build our own magical realities from the wounded landscape that emerges? How do we even understand the word utopia in the face of so many failures?

Topographia Collective (Catherine Harris, Jessamyn Lovell, Lee Montgomery , and Mary Tsiongas)

10 times around the Aldo Leopold shade structure with a camera mounted on a remote controlled dump truck. The structure centered our occupation of the land and was built of lumber scavenged at the rebuilding of Aldo Leopold's ranger cabin near Tres Piedres, NM.

1/2 perimeter 65x3,11x3 from catherine harris on Vimeo.

1/2 perimeter, a walking survey of the land owned by the PLAND collective.{/slideshow}