of American Scenery & Manners is a chapbook and DVD featuring Cairo, New Madrid, and West Point, a trilogy of short
films which draw upon the writings of the 19th century artist and
ornithologist John James Audubon, renowned for his epic publication The Birds of America (1838).
by Cartwright and Jordan along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers,
the works connect and contrast Audubon’s vivid tales of Frontier
America with their present day locations: an expansive, cinematic
landscape of frozen rivers, backwoods, highways, bluffs, farmland,
hunting reserves, factories, freight trains and small towns.
unanticipated events influencing the film-making process, the artists
deploy a part-documentary approach, filming a wide and varied topography,
both manmade and natural, from bald eagle flocks and tupelo swamps
to dilapidated towns and road kill.
combining footage of the contemporary American landscape with Audubon’s
dramatic observations from the early 19th century, the films reference
themes of human exploration and romanticism, our relationship to
a disappearing wilderness, species extinction, social change and
economic rise and fall.
The films are accompanied by an 32 page illustrated chapbook publication.
Designed by the artists, the booklet include notes, stills, maps,
drawings, writings by Audubon and an essay by Devin Zuber.
by Dedecus & available from Cornerhouse