Suppose a drawing begins as a single line.
As that line stretches, doubles back, multiplies, a territory starts to take shape. as though the line is all that's known, and the emptiness around it is terra incognita.
I don't romanticize exploration, or any of the explorers that "discovered" lands already long inhabited. The non-heroic kind of exploring, however, is another matter: to walk without a path, through foreign terrain, guided by curiosity. In artmaking it's akin to working with an unfamiliar method or material: I press forth into the unknown, treading softly so as to measure. Each step freshly informed.
To explore is to venture, alert and astute, into something one doesn't yet comprehend; to step outside the boundary of the known. An artist must do this continually—forever inquiring, interrogating, reaching.
• • • • •
A 19th century photograph led me here. I knew I would draw it, before knowing why— without knowing its story.
An expedition, I soon learned, to measure the depth of Crater Lake, Oregon, in 1886. There they measured the greatest depths recorded in any lake in North America. More than nineteen hundred feet. The apparatus was primitive: a plumb line, dropped until it foundered. Sounding, as it is called, would later be achieved with sonar—actual sound. Echolocating like bats in darkness.
I later sketched the scene from memory, several times before the line felt loose enough. Everything ought to be weightless, I thought–the boat is borne effortlessly on the still surface; the figures' reflections now stark silhouettes, hanging like bats, above fathomless depths.