The Phoenix Transect is a research project undertaken by students and faculty of the School of Art, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. The project is interdisciplinary and participants are visual artists, natural and social scientists. The group explores growth and changes to the larger Phoenix Metropolitan area, its urban and outlying spaces, its people, natural environments and resources. The project’s work is the product of a field class in photography. The goal is to explore the nature of photographic processes with the intent of probing the traditional boundaries of documentary and expressive practices, examine new media for visualization, and promote interdisciplinary collaborations.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is among the nation’s fastest growing urban centers, and currently home to nearly 4 million residents. Maricopa County, the nation’s fourth largest, is a national leader in population growth. Living in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Buckeye or any of several other connected communities in the “Valley of the Sun,” residents are in the unique position of experiencing first hand the impact of growth and change. Several research projects track scientific data associated with this large-scale urban expansion. Phoenix Transect is the first project to engage the vision of artists to address the changing Phoenix experience.

The photographs and video on this site are part of an ongoing project that will track the Phoenix area over an extended period of time. The project aims to engage artists, researchers and residents in an extended dialog about their community.

In January 2007 two rough transect lines were drawn across a map of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. The first followed the natural flow of the Salt River from the Granite Reef Dam on the east, past the central core of the city west to the remains of the Gillespie Dam south of Buckeye. The second was a straight line drawn from the historic core of downtown Phoenix approximately 40 miles north to the development of Anthem near New River. These lines were drawn by the project participants to set the geographical limits within which new work would take place during the first year.

New lines have been added to the original transects, and the project work has expanded to include such lines as the new Light Rail line, the course of urban canals that link different valley communities, and the flight paths of airplanes tracing temporary routes above the city. Parks and recreational areas are another focus as they act as unconnected points of common space dotting the historic landscapes of the valley. Additional projects have enlarged the concept of a transect to include the non-geographic lines of a shared human narrative and social concerns such as addiction, immigration and domestic abuse.

Fieldwork for Phoenix Transect has flexible content and takes advantage of the skills and interests of the individuals involved. The project provides an out of the classroom experience for photographers and researchers who specialize in site related work, and offers a unique opportunity for students and faculty to work in collaboration. Each time fieldwork is conducted, new participants are added and a new field problem is chosen. When seen together, the combined fieldwork of many years can be seen as a larger survey creating a detailed portrait of a place evolving in time.

Copyright Notice: All content presented on this site is the property of The Phoenix Transect Project, the contributing artist or the institution.