I make travel remotes.
A Kansas transplant, my future-weather travel remotes are based on experience and naked-eye observations of the heat and humidity thickening South Texas air.
Below are a few of my weather remote controllers and the weather categories they work within. My work is a mix of physical materials with digital and lens-based practices. I base the objects I make on current weather manipulation research- the rest is free wheeling fiction.
Rain or Shine
I create weather remote controllers in order to imagine myself a master manipulator of climate change. I also make them because I long to travel and disruptions due to weather are happening so disproportionately that peoples’ jobs and daily lives are routinely affected. I was surprised by how much, recently, when slightly bad weather, a day of blustery winds in South Texas, set into motion a cascade of events that sidelined 1500 American Airline flights nationally for four days.
An alternative emotional response to climate comes from having grown up in Kansas, on prairie my grandfather homesteaded with his team of six plow horses. It was Kansas where I walked among corn stalks and hay bales, in blue skies competing with clouds for rain. On the ground I stepped over bumpy outcroppings of limestone rock and heard farmers begrudge Juniper trees as weeds when clearing them from what, over time, became vast agricultural fields.
Planning for what the weather might bring tomorrow, in Kansas, implied a long look at the one grand aspect of nature we could control- our own selves. I learned to face tornados. I became resilient. It was also humbling to feel responsible for growing food enough to feed the world. There were children starving in China, after all. Keeping one eye on the weather was wise because it conditioned the soil and soul, each day, four seasons every year.
Where I live now and call home is Houston, Texas. Most every day blasts high humidity and heat- except for an intense short period this year when I saw fronds on tall palm trees blanketed in snow. Neither the Texas grid system, nor I, was prepared for those four days of freezing temperatures. Even the leaves on my indoor African violet suffered frostbite. And the years before that, you ask? A once-in-a-hundred-year flood happened two years in a row with a once in five-hundred-year flood following those.
The question remains for me whether getting in a car when it starts to rain is safe. Our bayou waters can rise quickly in freeway underpasses and racing canoe are dangerous during street rescues.
With extreme weather more common, normal travel has become more complicated. Factor in a world-wide health pandemic, and my desire to travel is more like planning an escape. It's why making weather changing remote controllers hold an appeal- they allow me to imagine the very best.