El Camino Real

2011 // Documentation

El Camino Real (TRT 12 min) is a synchronized three channel HD video project that charts the path of an artist intervention based on the original path of Gaspar de Portola’s 18th century expedition up the California coast. As Portola made his quest, he and his camp spread brassica nigra, European black mustard, to mark the trail. Scientists now regard brassica nigra as an invasive species that kills native plants with toxic chemicals and aggressive seeding.


The video cycles through structurally, with one of the three monitors changing every 5 seconds. Beginning with botanically intact native biomes, the imagery evolves to Cain cutting a new trail through the vast landscapes of mustard fields.


The audio of El Camino Real alternates between a bi-lingual voice over of Protola’s journaled description of the native landscape, and of scientific writing detailing the mechanics of how brassica nigra invades California landscapes.