Dead Reckoning (2014)
a collaborative installation with Claudia O’Steen

In navigation, dead reckoning (also ded [for deduced] reckoning or DR) is the process of calculating one's current position by using previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time and course.

As each estimate of position is relative to the previous one, errors are cumulative*, or compounding multiplicatively or exponentially, if that is the co-relationship of the quanta.

*"signal" refers to the wanted information; "noise" is something unintentionally added to the signal: "These unwanted additions may be distortions of sound (in telephony, for example) or static (in radio), or distortions in shape or shading of picture (television), or errors in transmission (telegraphy for facsilimile), etc." Both signal and noise are information. What determines which is which?


The installation takes place in two locations that mirror each other through shifting scales and methods of documentation. The first location is the Northwest Passage. Three overlaid maps of the region as it was known in 1845, 1858, and 2014* are drawn onto the floor using an alphanumeric system allowing the artists’ to draw the shape of the land by hand, square by square. The viewer is invited to walk on top of these maps, which creates a constantly shifting landscape as the lines of the map are displaced.

The second is the surface of artists’ collaborative workspace, where the floor is carefully gridded into 594 regions using the same alphanumeric system and is labeled, cast in plaster, scanned and digitally reassembled. Within the installation, the cast regions of the studio floor are laid over corresponding mapped regions of the Arctic in 1845, large stacks of tiles represent unmapped regions, with small stacks representing duplicates or errors made in the casting process.

The work work uses a series of navigational markers to move between known and unknown to create an imagined space, mimicking our relationship with any un-encountered landscape. The process of being lost is established as a means to understanding exploration itself. 

*We began with a map used by Sir John Franklin Lost Expedition in 1845 to navigate the region, though at the time of his expedition the landscape was not fully surveyed. The loss of Franklin and his ships, who intended to map the last un-navigated section of the passage, prompted countless search expeditions, and ironically precipitated the mapping of the Canadian Arctic. McClintock’s Expedition of 1858 returned the only communication left by the Franklin Expedition, found in a cairn on King William Island. It was not until 2014 that Franklin’s sunken ships were finally found. As sea level continues to rise, the map continues to change.

Two plaster cairns mark the square corresponding to the location where Franklin was last seen and where his last communication was found. The first houses video of arctic ice and audio of graphite rubbing, the second houses video of plaster cast tiles and audio of Arctic ice.


594 casts of the studio floor laid over corresponding mapped regions of the Arctic in 1845, video projection of 3D rendered tile corresponding to the last place that Sir John Franklin was seen.


Vela Re-Entry


Ostrov Zhannetty