Elizabeth McTernan is an American-born artist and writer based in Berlin and Iowa City and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, School of Art and Art History. Her work is a research-oriented and mixed-media exploration of measurement and media ecologies. Sometimes this involves a cartography of landscapes: mountains, deserts, the coastlines of islands or puddles. Other times it involves a cartography of objects: lab artifacts, copper, rocks. Through an interdisciplinary practice of mapping, she problematizes and plays with methods of empiricism.
Most recently, I have been exploring surfaces as a source of metaphor and political positioning, in a practice I call “caughtness.” The world is widely perceived as smooth, with mythically frictionless flows of resources, commodities, labor, information. This myth is built on the world viewed as the crow flies, in which relations are rendered by imagined straight lines between lives, delegated and navigated from above, disregarding
landscapes that are complicated by geographical obstacles and political borders – dynamics of rock and beings. By measuring surfaces on and from the ground, I want to confront a lived roughness. Meanwhile, the revelation of these earthly textures requires a specific attentiveness, a slowing-down in order to observe up close, over time – it requires us to get caught on the world. It calls for caughtness.