Star Axis: Excavating the Present
Since 1979 Edward Ranney has been photographing the growth of Star Axis, an earth sculpture Charles Ross is constructing in eastern New Mexico. Ranney’s photographs not only document the earthwork's growth and change but also depict the unfinished project rising out of its own archaeological ruin. Contextualizing these photographs with work he has done at pre-Columbian archaeological sites, Ranney has commented that the Star Axis pictures represent an archaeology in reverse.
Ross intends for the visitor at this naked-eye observatory to gain a sense of the vast scale of cosmic time, orienting the site toward the viewing of Polaris and other stars aligned with true north throughout the 26,000 year cycle of precession. Ranney's photographs give us glimpses into these metaphysical concerns underlying the earthwork, yet stand too as an extended body of work, encouraging us to look closely at our perception of time, space, and change.