fire line series chronology
5/20/04First draft of writeup the day the piece occurred to me. This draft is primarily concerned with controlling the ignition sequence of the perimeter and the analogy to raster imaging and point-to-line fusion. The next day spotted large wildfire near Corona which I photographed from the ranch and then from much closer, maybe a mile, the next night in support of the proposal.
5/22-24/04Over a few evenings write the first program for the Fire Lines animations. Very happy with the performance of such a simple algorithm. It is, after all, just a study. Don't want to get in the business of doing the work of ILM or Pixar.
5/25/04Second draft of proposal now concerned with using the entire burn area as a zone to create a luminous image. Includes photos of the Corona fire and an image from the first animation. Proposes configurations for images as result of a trip to Petroglyph National Monument, exploring the use of recurring images in aboriginal art as well as phosphenes, which are dominant in very early prototypical art as well as being suspected of manifestating fundamental processes in early vision.
5/30/04Contacted retired forest ranger and rancher friend Joe Chavez, who retired from the Forest Service a few years ago, to ask if he knew how to contact the persons responsible for prescribed burns in the nearby Manzano Mountains. He indicated it was done through the local District Office in Mountainair and suggested I call there, which I did. I briefly explained that I was an artist interested in doing artworks involving prescribed burns and wanted to learn more about them. The person there indicated I should speak to Gary Darrington in that office or his superior, Richard Nieto, in the Albuquerque office. I asked where they thought it might be better to start and they suggested Mr. Nieto as Mr. Darrington was out fighting fires. I began attempting to contact Mr. Nieto over the next few weeks. Wrote 3rd draft which is really a refinement and amplification of the 2nd.
6/4-6/04Write about 2/3 of the animations for an open plane, the original fire only simulation.
6/15/04Phone call from Theresa Berry, from the Albuquerque Office of the National Forest Service, Fire Support staff, who was returning my phone call to Richard Nieto, Cibola National Forest Fire Mediation Staff. I had left a number of messages for Mr. Nieto over the last two weeks but she explained that he has been out fighting fires. I explained my interest in prescribed burns, specifically the desire to begin shaping the form of a number of large scale environmental events whose markings thus far have been inadvertent. I mentioned meteors and clouds as other areas where I was working. I also mentined the relation to high tech luminous imaging such as CRTs. I explained I was interested in learning more about how prescribed burns are conducted and was ultimately interested in participating by having input into the ignition pattern or possibly setting secondary ignition sources in a preplanned configuration in the center of the region to be burned. I indicated that the form of these configurations would be related to incipient or precursor art such as the geometric patterns at Petroglyph National Monument. I explained that this work might well remain conceptual, that I understood that approval for involvement of an artist in a prescribed burn might not be possible, but that I needed to learn more about the planning process to put together a coherent proposal. I also asked if use was currently being made of computer modeling for prescribed burns. She was not sure but did not think so yet. I indicated that I had been making some computer animations of proposed burn patterns using a simple propogation model I had developed and was particularly interested in obtaining plans from prior burns to be able to use the geometric shapes of actual historical burns as containment shapes for the animations I was doing.

Theresa indicated that I would need to fill out a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) application to obtain "Previous Use Burn Plans". She indicated that the Sandias were some of the more detailed plans having been done because of the heavy use of the area as well as the adjacent military installations. I told her I lived near Tajique and was actaully more interested in burns in the Manzanos and had initially contacted the Mountainair Ranger District Office who had referred me to Mr. Nieto. She felt I might do better working through that office and suggested that I contact Vicki Estrada in that office to submit a FOIA application. I assured her that my interest in prescribed burns was strictly as I had discussed and was not invovled with the more sensational aspects such as the Los Alamos disaster.

Also spoke to Michael Quijano, Chief Ranger at Petroglyph National Monument. I was requesting permission for nighttime photography from the site for the reentry pieces but also asked some questions about the glyphs and he made some very interesting comments, indicating the Native Americans did not like them referred to as art, that they had much deeper spiritual and religious meanings about which they were very secretive. They also did not like photos being taken of them. I asked if a realtionship more like early Christian art such as icons was appropriate and he indicated perhaps but more involved. I mentioned kachinas and he indicated that the works were effectively kachinas. I asked if he had any references works and he indicate that they had recently completed an unpublished ethnographic landdscape study which he would make available to me to copy. I obtained the document which I foudn to contain a wealth of information, much of it useful to the Sky/Ground pieces.

6/25/04Brief conversation with Vicki Estrada, Chief Ranger, Mountainair Ranger District Office. Described interest in learning more about prescribed burns and doing artworks in conjunction with these activites. Explained the types of participation I was interested in and the objectives of the work, attempting to provide some input from the artist into large scale environmental activities. Vicki seemed very receptive but indicated they were in the middle of a difficult fire season. (The Forest Service has just closed most of the area forests to most activites in the last week due to the heightenend fire danger, which was now severe due to the drought.) She indicated that if I could wait until the end of July when the Monsoons would start she would like to set up a meeting then with herself and a couple of the other fire fighting personell to discuss my goals and provide me with the information I need. I indicated that I would be happy to wait that long for such an opportunity. In the last ten days have done extensive development of animation tools and acquired new still and video cameras. Will continue to work on producing DVD of animated studies to perhaps show to them at the meeting.
8/04Contact Vicki Estrada of the Distict FS office and she indicates that another staff member, Arlene Perea, is now the Fire Information Officer and I should contact her. Have several follow-up discussions with Arlene, requesting copies of prior burn projects for references. She indicates there may be difficulties in providing them. She also recommends that I explore obtaining firefighter training and accreditation as it is required to be present at a burn site. I ask her to advise me of upcoming classes and any future burns so I can get additional imagery from my plane. Decide completion of a website and a DVD of the studies will be essential to projecting credibility for the project.
9/04Complete sequence of studies originally envisigned for the project. Quite by chance, happen to overfly a large prescribed burn in the Jemez area. Am struck by the divergence of my simple model with the real event. Decide to do two additional versions of the study, a second version depicting a fuel structure or "forest" which moderates the advance of the flame front, and a third version which shows the smoke plume. Work on redoing the first sequence of studies with these two programs. Start to produce the first version of the DVD using a DVD authoring tool provided with my burner. Not that happy with the flexibility provided but proceed anyway with a preliminary version to show to people for comment. This version only has the slower speed copies of the studies.
10/04Show the preliminary and incomplete "Studies for Prescribed Burning" to several friends over the course of the month, both guests in New Mexico and a number of people in New York. The response I get leads to to changes, first a faster version of the animations is needed as I invariably ended up showing them in fast play, at least initially. Second, the amount of modulation of the flame front by the forest is not adequate. This is reinforced by another prescirbed burn I fly over up in the Santa Fe watershed area in the Pecos. My original idea that both random access to each study as well as the ability to play a complete section is needed, as well as the ability to switch speed. Adding optioinal looping would also be nice.
1/23-28/05Complete rendering and encoding of all studies and start looking for another authoring tool. Select a prosumer/business tool and spend the better part of a week learning it and auithoring over half of the DVD, version two, only to learn it does not have the flexibility I would like.
2/14-22/05Find third authoring tool and start authoring DVD from scratch for the third time. This time am able to geta all the functionality I need as the tool allows for Virtual Machine code. Complete final (third) version (V1.0) of "Studies for Prescribed Burning" and produce edition of 20. Send many of them to friends for comment.
2/24/05Contact Arlene Perea at the Mountainair District Forest Service office, indicate I have completed the DVD and would like to show it to her to attempt to better explain my work. She is receptive and indicates that she would like to arrange a meeting with her and Chief Ranger Vicki Estada next week when Vicki returns. We discuss the comprehensive "Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Tajique Watershed Restoration Project" recently completed by the USFS. It calls for extensive use of prescribed burning to restor the health of this watershed, which incidentally is the closest area of the Manzano Mountains to my ranch. Arlene also mentions there is an upcoming fire fighter training class in Magdelena later in the month.
3/5-6/05Complete extensive rewrite of web pages on Fire Lines. Add web version of DVD content.
3/16-18/05Attend Wildland Firefighter Training as Magdalena, NM Ranger District Office of the Cibola National Forest. Complete courses I-100 (Incident Command System Orientation), S-130 (Firefighter Training), and S-190 (Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior).
5/24/05After making initial contact with the Smoke Management Office of the New Mexico Environment Depart in the prior week, have detailed telcon with Rita Trujillo of that office. As the result of recent legislation, all outdoor fires of over ten acres are required to apply for permits from the Smoke Management office. People at the USDA had recommended contacting Smoke Management to obtain contact information or those planning prescribed burns. I explain my objectives with the with the Prescribed Burning pieces to Rite. Ms. Trujillo indicated that she would be "uncomfortable" releasing contact information, particularly for private landowners, from the agency database. She indicated that if I submitted a FOIA request I could probably obtain the information but I told her that I felt that was not appropriate and I would prefer to work voluntarily. She suggested that I contact the USDA NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) or county extension offices as they would be aware of privates doing burns. She also suggested contacting the State Forestry Division, which is under Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, in particular, Nancy Niscausas (sp?) who is the FMO (Fire Management Officer) for the Forest Service.

Later in the day I learn on the news that a 150 acre prescribed burn in the Santa Fe forest has gotten out of control and has now exceeded 600 acres. These sort of events work against my efforts with the USFS and further adversely sensitize them with regard to outside scrutiny, let alone involvement in burns.