Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 14, 2012.

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Photographs from the intersection of the N 40° latitude with each degree of longitude across the United States. From New Jersey to California.

UPDATE! — 6/12/12, just after 6pm, N 42° 22' 52.5396" W 71° 6' 55.53"

Wow, what an amazing first week!  The goal has now been reached–but the fundraising doesn't end...it actually keeps going until the clock runs out! This means that you can continue to get great rewards and continue to pledge! Thanks to all that have offered your support so far, it means so much, and for those still deciding, there is still plenty of time. 

With such a tremendous outpouring of support, I'd like to try to reach a new goal by July 14th$15,000.  Your pledge will make a difference and is a great way to get a print at a very reasonable price. With additional support, I can: 

  • Purchase a digital/video camera to document the trip and locations
  • Revisit a few confluences that I photographed early on for better results (which will also require additional film)
  • Acquire some better accommodations, rather than sleep in the car occasionally
  • Hire an assistant to help with various duties 
  • Any other ancillary items that always seem to pop up! 

Remember, you're not only supporting the project, you're getting a great reward and my sincere thanks! I look forward to updating you from the road!

Read more about the project below.  

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[Thanks to Matt Nash for helping with the video]

My name is Bruce Myren and I’ve been following a line. Not just any line, but the Fortieth Parallel, a degree of latitude that defined the settlement of a large portion of the western United States and one that is significant to the history of photography. I am obsessed with the idea of location and fascinated by measurement and the interplay between GPS coordinates and human’s understanding of where we are. In my project, “The Fortieth Parallel,” I am photographing the view from the confluence of this line of latitude with each whole degree of longitude across America. 

To date, the project has been largely self-funded and I have been fitting trips whenever I can. In 2009, I was gifted enough 8 x 10 transparency film to photograph the remaining locations; unfortunately, Kodak has recently announced the discontinuation of all of its transparency films and it is estimated that the processing will not be available for much longer. In additional, the 20 remaining confluences represent some of the most difficult points to reach, travel-wise.  For all of these reasons, and many more detailed below, I am inviting you to come along on my journey and help me complete this project.

How it all began:

The idea for “The Fortieth Parallel” came to me while I was living in Boulder, Colorado in the 1990s. My friend Eric and I were sitting on top of Flagstaff Mountain gazing at the plains. I noticed that a road, Baseline Road, went east in a straight line towards the horizon. Eric explained that that particular road marked the 40th degree of north latitude and was the baseline for the surveying the Kansas and Nebraska Territory. At that moment, I knew I had a project: I was going to document the 40th parallel across the whole country, creating a new survey along this historic line.

Where the Fortieth Parallel crosses the US. Click to see the Fortieth Parallel on Google Maps.
Where the Fortieth Parallel crosses the US. Click to see the Fortieth Parallel on Google Maps.

From college, I knew of Timothy O’Sullivan’s photographs from the King Survey of the 40th parallel beginning in 1867 and from my father, who was studying to be a civil engineer, I acquired an interest in surveying. Not wanting to re-make O’Sullivan’s pictures or simply record topography, I see the project instead as a contemporary response to 19th-century surveys of the western US.

“The Fortieth Parallel” gradually crystallized into a large undertaking. Initially, I began to collect maps to see where this line was going to take me. Within the contiguous states, the 40th parallel roughly bisects the county: beginning on the New Jersey shoreline, it runs through southern Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri; marks the historical border of Kansas and Nebraska; traverses Colorado, Utah, and Nevada; and ends at the shoreline of northern California. There are 52 confluences—50 on land, two at landfall—and I have photographed 32 of them and have 20 left to go. At this time, GPS devices were not available to civilians at reasonable prices, yet I was certain that this new technology would be the answer to locating these precise places. By 1998, prices came down and I bought my first GPS unit for $300, drove to where the 40th parallel hit land on the New Jersey shore, and made my first picture.


N 40° 00’ 00” W 74° 03’ 32” - Normandy Beach, New Jersey, 1998
N 40° 00’ 00” W 74° 03’ 32” - Normandy Beach, New Jersey, 1998

How I make the pictures:

The distance between each longitudinal line at the 40th parallel is about 53 miles as the crow flies. However, this is never the case on the ground. Using a GPS and maps, I navigate to each of these confluences where I have approximately 20-square-foot area in which I compose the best possible view. After hiking/driving/boating close to the location (with gear weighing approximately 50 pounds) and finding the exact confluence with the GPS, I set up my 8x10 Deardorff camera and choose my view. I then take three individual pictures, moving the camera from left to right, and later print them together, leaving the tell-tale signs of film’s frames intact. 

East of the Mississippi, confluences are generally near roads and are more easily accessible. West of the Rocky Mountains, access becomes more difficult; roads are scarce and travel between points can take up to a day. Ranging from remote governmental lands in Utah to a 2,000-foot cliff on the Californian coast, these 20 final locations will present unique challenges. Although I do research on all of my locations before setting out, as I have learned, there are always surprises (which I will share on the supporter blog as the project progresses).

For more detailed statements regarding “The Fortieth Parallel” and images to date, visit my website and see the press links at the bottom of this page.

GPS and 8 x 10 Deardorff camera at W122°, California, 2012
GPS and 8 x 10 Deardorff camera at W122°, California, 2012


To finish the project:

I will be traveling to the remaining confluences on N 40° 00’ 00” over the next year, with a projected completion date of Summer 2013.  There are a few places to which I may return to re-photograph.

The funds raised will be used for:
  • Airfare to the western confluences
  • Rental cars
  • Gasoline
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Shipping film and equipment
  • Film processing
  • Back-up 8 x 10 transparency film
  • Any other expenses needed to finish the project
In return for your support, I have some wonderful and heartfelt rewards:
  • Postcards from interesting places I visit on the road
  • Production photographs, printed while on the road and sent as postcards 
  • Signed prints in various sizes in open editions
  • Signed limited edition prints in larger exclusive sizes 
  • On-location video chats 

Remember, if my Kickstarter project does not reach its goal, it does not get funded at all.  As they say on NPR and PBS, time is very limited and we need your support now! 

If my fundraising goal is surpassed, any additional money will go toward any additional supplies needed, post-production, printing, and to make a book dummy.  Throughout the Kickstarter campaign, I will be making updates as the drive progresses.

Publishers, museum curators, and collectors have expressed interest in the larger project, but for the most part, many say the same thing: “keep me updated and let me know when it is finished.” With your help, “The Fortieth Parallel” can finally be completed and great things can start to happen!! 

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to updating and seeing you on the road.

Very best, Bruce

A Note on the Print Rewards:

All production postcards will be printed on or near the location that they are made, with a personal note and signed by the artist.

All reward panorama prints are archival inkjet prints signed by the artist in special Kickstarter sizes and editions, either open or limited as noted. I will contact you after the campaign ends with information on how to send me your choice. If you choose a print of one of the panoramas that has already been photographed, the estimated delivery of your reward will be October 2012. If you wish to choose a location not yet visited, the estimated delivery of your reward will be Summer 2013.To help you select a print visit at my website to see the photographs already made, or my Google map site for the locations that are to be visited. If you would like guidance I will gladly help you choose a print from the collection.

"The Fortieth Parallel" and the rest of my work is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston.

Should you have any questions about any of the rewards, please feel free to comment or message me via the button at the bottom of this page.

Press on the project “The Fortieth Parallel”

Robert Moeller, "Peg and Rope Geometry," Afterimage, January/February 2011, Vol. 38, No. 4 (scroll down to exhibition reviews, click on the +)

Greg Cook, "Tedium and Enchantment," Boston Phoenix, November 5, 2010

Cate McQuaid, "Making a dream reality," Boston Globe, November 10, 2010

D’lynne Plummer, “Absolute Latitude: Laconia Gallery displays the Beauty of Random Locales,” South End News, October 2005

Help Spread the Word & Updates:

I would be grateful if you could help spread the word about “The Fortieth Parallel” by sharing the direct Kickstarter link located below the video at the top of the page.  You can join my email list to receive updates regarding the project and other news by clicking here.  Thank you!

I wish to thank a few people who have supported the project over the years and who have made this Kickstarter campaign possible:

Leslie K. Brown
Arlette & Gus Kayafas 
Scott DiSabato
Matthew Nash
David Karp
Larry Gawel & Dana Fritz
Eric Monsonis
Erin & Jon Wiersma
David Binder & Laconia Gallery
Steve Brettler
Jay Callum and the crew at E.P. Levine
Heather Wakefield

YOUR NAME HERE Click to go to the supporter page on my website.

These are the final images from some of the scenes in the video.

N 40° 00’ 00” W 97° 00’ 00” Hollenberg, Kansas, 2007
N 40° 00’ 00” W 97° 00’ 00” Hollenberg, Kansas, 2007
N 40° 00’ 00” W 98° 00’ 00” Webber, Kansas, 2007
N 40° 00’ 00” W 98° 00’ 00” Webber, Kansas, 2007
N 40° 00’ 00” W 104° 00’ 00” Hoyt, Colorado, 2008
N 40° 00’ 00” W 104° 00’ 00” Hoyt, Colorado, 2008

FAQ

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    17 backers

    THANK YOU POSTCARD— Everyone will get a postcard of the Fortieth Parallel map like the one that is featured to the left. Additionally, your name will be listed on my website with my deepest thanks. Every little bit helps to make this project a success, please share with your friends!

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    POSTCARD FROM THE ROAD — I will send you a personalized postcard from some interesting place while on the road. You will also be listed on my website with my deepest thanks.

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    21 backers

    PRODUCTION PHOTO POSTCARD — I will send you a postcard created from a production photo at one of the locations. You will also be listed on my website with my deepest thanks.

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    3” x 10” PRINT from the PROJECT — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    4” x 15” PRINT from the PROJECT — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    5” x 18.75” PRINT from the PROJECT — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    4 backers

    6” x 22.5” PRINT & optional VIDEO CHAT from a LOCATION — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    3 backers Limited (9 left of 12)

    7.5” x 28” PRINT & optional VIDEO CHAT from a LOCATION — Limited Edition of 12 — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    9” x 34” PRINT & optional VIDEO CHAT from a LOCATION — Limited Edition of 10 — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    1 backer Limited (7 left of 8)

    12” x 45” PRINT & optional VIDEO CHAT from a LOCATION — Limited Edition of 8 — Choose an image from any location in the project, already made or not yet visited. For more details, see bottom of project description to the left. Also includes website thank you and a postcard.

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    A PANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPH at a LOCATION of YOUR CHOICE — I will come to your home, business, or any place that has meaning to you and create a panoramic photograph. Print size is also your choice up to 16" x 60". For locations more than a 4 hour drive from Cambridge, MA, or an already planned trip, travel expenses are not included and would be additional. Includes a huge website thank you and at least a postcard.

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Funding period

- (39 days)