Between 1867 and 1872 the photographer Timothy O'Sullivan joined the Geographical Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel lead by the geologist Clarence King. With the survey traveling close to the northern fortieth parallel, O'Sullivan photographed throughout the territories that would become the present states of California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Taking images of the landscape and its features, O'Sullivan was tasked with a subject matter with little precedent at the time. The comprehensibility of the land's scale and character were left to O'Sullivan's imagination and improvisation with the camera.
During the summer of 2015 I set off on a two-week road trip retracing the survey's route. Gone are the frontiersmen, the men who claimed these places for their own and gave them new names. In the Western States there are few feats of strength left, and without the bravado of discovery we are left with the menial tasks of superficial preservation and mouth agape marveling. What are men then when there’s no masculinity to prove? What do we do when to “reimagine” means to settle for second place?