Kendall McMinimy: Cropping to Circles
It's a particularly timely moment to touch on the series Cropping to Circles by Kendall McMinimy as California is currently struggling with a drought crisis. While it impacts residential and public water supplies, it also has an enormous impact on agriculture--not just for California but for the vast agricultural exports (California is responsible for almost 15% of the United States' total agricultural exports). NPR aired a story about the debate around redistributing the state's water, which farmers hold rights to, on land purchased specifically for the benefit of the right to use a guaranteed amount of water and to use it before anyone else.
It is therefore intriguing to view McMinimy's prints in terms of current ecological conditions, which in turn impact daily habits, food supply, business, and the environment. The series takes on a mechanical marvel, the Central Pivot Irrigation System, which brings water to dry land in order to irrigate crops. As a Wisconsin native, I've seen these giant, lumbering machines in fields all my life, occasionally sitting dormant between growing seasons, then whirred back to life during the summer. By pumping water from underground water reserves, they simulate rain as they slowly roll through the fields. McMinimy explains in the project statement that they play conflicting roles in worldwide food production:
...the worldwide revolution in food production is also complicit in the depletion of groundwater; humanitarian aid aligns with hegemonic order; global market forces allow and deny local economies; a system simultaneously produces and diminishes.
He also explains:
These structures, chasing their own tails, morph into lumbering memento mori and echo our own existence rotating through the repetitive rhythms and cycles of life.
The circular patterns and rhythms of the artist's images mimic the rhythms and cycles of life, and at the same time they remind the viewer how easily accessible, immediate, detailed, and ubiquitous current satellite and monitoring technology is today. Even though the images are derived from satellite imagery, however, the artist doesn't provide us with an obvious sense of scale or any idea of geography. These black and white images are, in a sense, snapshots of technological advancements both on the ground and above Earth's atmosphere, which focus on the water taken from beneath the ground to support food production on it. In this way, McMinimy's images prove deceptively flat; they are, in other words, layered onion-like (and I make that association purposely) as a simple yet clear commentary on the relationship between technology, food production, and society.
More work and information can be found at mcminimy.com.