The desert was a complete mystery to me when I accepted an artist residency at Joshua Tree National Park. The alien landscape visually represented the unfamiliarity I experienced when I moved to Chicago after 22 years of making my home in Rochester, New York. Ultimately, over a three-year period, I created a series of photographic works entitled EarthWords (1999-2001). During this time, I scavenged Chicago and Los Angeles for recycled signage in the form of large plastic, metal, and neon letters then searched the landscape for fragments that could hold an aesthetic dialogue with the text of the letters throughout the 800,000 acres of Joshua Tree. Initially inspired by the writings of Earthworks sculptor Robert Smithson, and profoundly influenced by nineteenth century landscape photography, I set out to investigate the language of landscape. This series calls upon such disparate referents as the Hollywood sign, Robert Smithson’s art and writings, narration and poetry, and the history of landscape art in the West. The photographs build up and break down relationships between photography and language by inverting how we read language and see photographs.