Welcome to the MINE project: the latest creation from the wide world of LBA. It marks a change in the course of this web site. An evolution of past walkings. In former projects, walking was the primary motive for the piece. With this project, the act of walking has been transformed into a pencil stroke of sorts. With this piece, the road is left behind, and a fresh trail is blazed. The walk itself takes on a new characteristic at this point: the walk becomes a drawing.
What is the MINE project?
The MINE project is a large-scale, site-specific art project that exists in two realms. First, the physical: actual legitimate mining claims laid out to spell the word MINE. The claims exist as both a blazed trail and a series of monuments in the real world. Second, the virtual: it will exist in a Government database which outlines the ownership of sub surface rights for all of Ontario. The inital step is what creates this virtual realm. The second step is what gives the physical some sort of value; which is implied by the relationship between the physical and virtual. What makes the MINE project unique from mining claims is that there is no apparent value to the land. There is no prior knowledge of what the rock underneath may contain. Normally claims are staked on suspicion of value. These claims were intentionally staked without prior knowledge of sub-surface structures. The MINE project is intended to create its own value by offering something. The claims themselves will be sold to the general public in $5 shares. No profit is to be gleaned from the sale. The funds will then be transferred to an organization which reclaims abandoned mines. Currently within Canada there is an organization with such a purpose. They are called Canadian Land Reclamation Association. It is a non-profit association with members across Canada.
By writing the word MINE in block letters using mining claims, I intended to explore two meanings of the word: Mine as a possesive pronoun, as well as a mine described as an excavation in which ores and minerals are extracted. There are three basic biases when it comes to mineral exploration and mining. Those who view it as a means of creating wealth, those who believe mining is an environmental holocaust, and an opinion of indifference. The MINE project is not intended to support any particular bias. It does, however, have something to offer to each view. Mining is something which involves everyone directly and indirectly. Without raw materials, nothing new can be made. Everything in modern culture has its roots in rocks. The use of mined metals and minerals is so pervasive that it affects almost every human action. In the past 100 years, mining has been influnced heavily by environmental regulation in a few parts of the world. In other areas, mining operations still lay waste to vast tracks of land. A question of responsiblity can applied here. The MINE project is intended to offer a unfolded view of this question and to supply a means for the average person to contribute to rejuvenation.
This project emerges out of a modern artistic tradition. One in which the artist leaves the studio to work directly in the landscape: think Robert Smithson, Richard Long, Robert Morris, Hamish Fulton. The MINE project is built around the ideas of engagment—re-engaging people with one another, with the land, and with their communities. At the same time, while the project will literally be written on the land, it will circulate primarily in imagined and virtual spaces. Many contemporary artists have experimented with notions of virtual spaces in their practice, most notably those who work with GPS mapping to create artworks based on patterns in the built and natural world.
How does one stake a mining claim?
In Northern Ontario, all mining claims must be staked following the Stakers Guide. To stake a claim, one must first obtain a Prospectors liscense from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. The act of staking is intended to create a border around the land you would like to claim. This is achieved by blazing trees with an axe. The intention is to create a trail that a person can follow. Typically the borders of claims follow the cardinal directions: South, West, North, and East. In addition to marking out the borders, the staker is required to cut posts at each corner. Tags with the claim number are then nailed to the post. Each claim unit is 400 square metres. This is a brief explaination of staking. For a complete understanding, read the Stakers Guide.