High Desert Test Sites supports experimental art that engages with the local environment and community.

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GWC INVESTIGATORS were selected from a highly competitive pool of project applications for High Desert Test Sites' 2013 programming. The 2013 HDTS Selection Committee consisted of Andrea Zittel, Dave Hickey, Aurora Tang, and Libby Lumpkin.  

GWC INVESTIGATORS has received generous financial support for this project from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts & Culture Council

For HDTS 2013, GWC INVESTIGATORS will engage in a period of intensive on-site investigation into extraterrestrial experiences and the UFO phenomenon. During the week of October 12-19, GWC will set up base camp in Northern Arizona, an area with a higher-than-average number of UFO sightings or interactions. As an investigative team, GWC will conduct intensive field research, including audio and video recordings and data collection on light pollution, celestial movements, local flora and fauna and topography, as well as seeking out eyewitness accounts from local residents. While embedded, GWC will also construct temporary and non-invasive site markers at geographical points of interest linked to our findings, movements, and sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects. Investigations will seek correlations between sightings and geographical site: In what ways does the landscape or climate of northern Arizona affect human psychology and the frequency of UFO sightings? Are sightings more prevalent at dawn or dusk? Are sightings influenced by ground topography or by geologic features?

“UFOs in Arizona Since 1995,” Custom Google Map: blue pins = reported sightings of UFOs, red pin = base-camp site at Turkey Springs, AZ, and shaded area = the geographical area of primary interest. Map is viewable here.

GWC will establish a base camp at Turkey Springs, a site situated in the Sitgreaves National Forest, approximately 60 miles south of Interstate Hwy 40, off Hwy 260 between Prescott and Snowflake, Arizona (please see included map, next page). Group research will be concentrated on this site, but will include tangential investigations into UFO related phenomena in nearby locales with reported histories of UFO sightings and abductions. As the base campsite is to be located on Federal land, primitive camping is allowed without the need for special permits. At the conclusion of the weeklong field investigation, camp will be struck and packed out, following a leave-no-trace philosophy.


The research driven project proposed by GWC consists of several aspects with varying durations. While embedded in the field during the week of October 12-19 the artists will welcome visitors to their base-camp during set daytime hours, and for one night-time UFO watch. The members of the group will compose daily debriefings of findings, live broadcast on a pre-designated CB radio band and digitally recorded. Following the week of embedded research, GWC will conduct a one-time public presentation of their field reports in lecture format, to be presented at the HDTS Headquarters or an alternate venue. Additionally, the research and documentation collected will be, by early 2014, compiled and collated into an internet-based archive of GWC’s findings, as well as a physical publication, serving as a mirror object of the online archive.

With a history dating back at least as far as the written word, whether approached as a believer or a skeptic, the UFO phenomenon says something about what it is to be human. We are driven by curiosity to look beyond ourselves for answers, to peer into the stars and strive to know what we cannot touch. Now, with orbiting telescopes and digital image data processing, we can peer into the deepest reaches of the universe, and find planets that, perhaps, mirror our own. The UFO phenomenon can be explained in many ways: by hallucinations, repressed trauma, military testing or atmospheric anomalies. Maybe, though, it is none or all of these—maybe it’s the universe coming to us, folding around and enveloping us.