Tori Meyer - "Witness to Time"

Victoria Meyer, or Tori, as she is better known, has a goal of seeing and photographing every national park. It was that goal that brought her to the Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona, to becoming an Artist in Residence, and to creating her first multimedia project “Witness to Time.”

Meyer believed she could improve the installation in the Visitors’ Center of the Petrified Forest National Park. She submitted an application for the Artist-In-Residence program. In it, she proposed the creation of a multimedia installation that would combine an original score, photography, and nature sounds recorded in the park. In spring 2014, Tori Meyer learned she had been named a 2014 Artist-in-Residence.

In June 2014, Meyer traveled to Arizona where she spent about three weeks living in park ranger housing on the grounds of the Petrified Forest National Park. During her stay, she gathered material for and created the multimedia installation she proposed for the visitors’ center.

Soon after her arrival at Petrified Forest National Park, Meyer learned her residency coincided with the summer solstice. Puerco Pueblo, an archeological site and trail within the park, is home an ancient solar marker or prehistoric rock carving. Used in summer solstice celebrations, Meyer turned it into the centerpiece of her project.

To create the multimedia installation, Tori Meyer started with the photography. She took photographs every half hour from sunrise to 2 a.m. using a variety of cameras.Park ranger & Kit Jenkins in front of Tori Meyer's multimedia installation

She then used battery-operated field recording equipment to capture sounds to complement the photographs. Sounds included wind, crickets, birds indigenous to the park, and a family of pronghorns (a North American mammal similar to a deer). Later, the audio was mixed into a score Meyer composed in a midi program.

In the park, 26 miles from the nearest town and without the distractions of television, Wi-Fi, and other media, Meyer was able to focus completely on the project. She completed the installation during her stay. She described the time as “a really wonderful experience; true quiet doesn’t exist many places and you can find it out there.”

When asked what she would tell her students about the experience, Meyer replied, “It was incredibly worthwhile. It’s very good to get outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself.” She believes that the multimedia project she created, her first, was beyond the scope of her prior work experience.  

Her work will be displayed for a minimum of a year. About 600,000 people visit Petrified National Park each year and will have the opportunity to experience “Witness to Time” while at the park. During her sabbatical in spring 2015, Tori Meyer will be traveling to Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas to create a similar multimedia installation for the visitors’ center there.

Victoria “Tori” Meyer is an associate professor in Audio Aesthetics and Technology in the Webster University School of Communications. She will be giving a Brown Bag presentation at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 in the University Center Sunnen Lounge.

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