Field Book

Jordan Putt

2016 - Ongoing

‘Field Book' is a body of work that I began in 2016, while working as a Land Surveyor for the City of Tucson, Arizona. Learning the trade from my father from the early age of 12, each day I would walk through the desert landscape, using GPS to mark property boundaries and record map coordinates. I became interested in the way that land surveys and photographic expeditions recorded the landscape and, in so doing, shaped historic conceptions of the American West. From the photographers who accompanied the early survey expeditions, to the documentary surveys of the FSA in the 1930’s, photography has been essential to characterizing the shifting social and physical landscape of the western United States. Drawing on the early lineage of documentary surveys of the west, this work focuses on those who have typically been left out of the heroic stories of the western frontier, and remain on the periphery of urban expansion. 'Field Book' compiles archival survey documents with my own photographs of childhood friends, strangers and landscapes to create a visual survey of the city that raised me: Tucson, Arizona.

I have long conceived of this work in book form. The field book throughout land surveying history has served as a record of the individual as well as the landscape they documented. Much like the survey field books which detail the physical traverse across a specified region, 'Field Book' consists of my own photographic records alongside archival documents of the landscape and survey maps as I survey each area. I am currently in the process of sequencing images with plans of publishing a small edition of hand-made copies of ‘Field Book’. By positioning historic records of the land alongside contemporary portraits and landscapes, I hope to ignite a comparison between the rapid geographic growth and the unchanged reality of those who inhabit the periphery. In doing so, this work functions similar to the early documentary surveys to examine the priorities of those planning our cities to explore how we may be able to extend economic resources to those who remain in less accessible regions of the country.

Over the past year, this work has been included in group exhibitions at the House of Lucie, Los Angeles; Filter Space, Chicago; Perspective Gallery, Chicago; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; and has received a solo exhibition at Columbia College Chicago’s C33 gallery. It has been published in Fotofilmic’s JRNL 3, and was awarded Columbia College Chicago’s 2020 Albert P. Weisman award. One of the works will also be added to the Center for Creative Photography’s permanent exhibition archive as of May 2020.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • South Fontana Ave, 2017

  • Emery Park Plat Map, 1926; South 1st Ave, 2017

  • Morris Blvd, 2017

  • Bilby Road After the Monsoon, 2018

  • South Park Ave, 2019

  • Elijah, 2019

  • Pamela’s Soulmender, 2017

  • Eric, 2020

  • Precious, 2017

  • Naya, 2018

  • Sunkist Acres Plat Map, 1964; Sunkist Acres Ariel Map, 1974

  • South Country Club Rd, 2019

  • Arturo, 2019

  • South Westover Ave, 2018

  • Antonio, 2019

  • Maia and Riley, 2018

  • West Century Dr, 2018

  • Super Antojitos Salvadoreños, 2018

  • South Kinney Rd, 2018

  • Gates Pass, 2017; Gates Pass Topographic Map, 1928