2013 – 2014
When ecologists conduct quadrat studies to obtain biological data about a specific area, they map out a square of set size — typically ranging in size from 1×1’ or 10×10’ — then identify and catalog all of the organisms they find in this plot. The researchers often extrapolate their quadrat findings to better understand the biodiversity of the surrounding habitat.
For Presidio Sites, a project created in conjunction with senseofplace LAB‘s Nomadic Nature in Situ, I conducted a nontraditional quadrat study. Each of my four plots was 15×15 or 20×20 feet (significantly larger than a standard research quadrat), and I casually “sampled” (via written descriptions, sketches, and photographs) organisms found in these sites. I also cataloged the trash I found, the sounds I heard, and the smells I experienced.
I was less interested in creating an objective report of the site ecologies than I was in the intangible, abstract, and subjective aspects of each site. I created site maps, prioritized biological specificity, and cross-referenced my research — all more traditional survey methods — but I also meditated on the mingling of my personal narratives and stories with the history and ecology of the Presidio plots.
During the project’s term, l led a walking tour to three of the four sites in the Presidio. At each stop, I read a short reflection on some aspect of the site.