Red Shift
Site-specific installation created for Boxo Projects' Joshua Treenial 2017
Sonja Schenk is drawn to rocks, the secrets they keep, and the dark desert highways that lead to them. Her paintings and sculpture depict and evoke the endurance of geological formations against the Ozymandian entropy of man-made incursions into nature. She too is inspired by phenomenological experiences of the High Desert, particularly its light and atmosphere, as well as its history of secretive, often military-industrial experimentation.
    -Shana Nys Dambrot, Palm Springs Life, December 2016

In space, the farther things are from us, the more they show up in the red spectrum of light. Beyond the visible color spectrum lies infrared and things that appear infrared in space are the earliest objects of our universe. Similar to the auditory phenomenon of Doppler shift, Red Shift describes something that is moving away from you.
It is not accidental that the infrared technology used in Red Shift is reminiscent of commando-style military endeavors. The desert of the American southwest has always been a site for secret government experiments and unexplained sightings, far from the prying eyes of ordinary citizens. The Joshua Treenial takes place in a sparsely inhabited area that neighbors one of the largest military bases in the U.S.,Twentynine Palms, training ground for American military action in a desert on the other side of the earth.
And this brings us to a somewhat formalist element of the installation: the most interesting developments in paints and pigments are coming from science and the military, not the arts. Red Shift employs materials not popular among artists but well-known to military afficionados, survivalists and game hunters.
Situated at the unlikely intersection of military technology and contemporary art, Red Shift seeks to explore the edge of the visible, a liminal place where appearances are deceiving, not unlike that classic apparition of the desert landscape, the mirage.

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