Art, Art History and Design, School of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-18-2013

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Fine Arts, Major: Art, Under the Supervision of Francisco Souto. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2013

Copyright Gregory Scott Cook 2013


The term “path loss” could be considered somewhat idiomatic – it refers at once to a very specific technical definition and an easily relatable conceptualization, but perhaps its most immediate read is one of defeat, literally “a path, lost.” I find this beautifully problematic. In its original end as a term in radio-engineering, it’s used to describe the attenuation of a signal through physical space on its way to a receiver – that is, “path loss” describes some kind of thin-ness of intensity, the parts of something snagged along the way; parts caught in bedrock, lost in soil, or tangled in trees - bearing evidence of travel - but still received. I champion this use, this concept – path-loss isn’t defeatist, it’s indicative of persistence in the face of inevitable change.

Using field-recorded, locationally-specific sound, consciously collected/archived objects/ephemera and personally significant or memorable materials as media, my work explores a personal history of movement, loss/change, inventory, and continuation – but also embraces these terms as descriptive of a method of making art. It’s my intention that a somewhat palindromic way of working is present throughout this– dirty, mishandled documents are tightly remade/reconstructed as artist prints from specific materials, while real-world objects are translated through digital space and back to become broken, rough, opportunistically formed sculpture.

I approach making artwork as a sort of problem-solving, digging out connections between bodies of information past and present, personal and public to weave narrative or at least pseudo-logical forms from the ordinary. In re-using or re-incorporating documentative items, I’d like to think I’m securing for these ephemera - no matter how mundane they may appear to be – a life, or at least displaying in them some mechanisms of living: connection, location, communication, memory, experience.

The narrative in this work is meant to be extremely quiet and sprawling – it’s invested with a consideration of the final days of a man born one hundred years and ten days before I was, who died alone, in the earth - a cost of his explorative nature – while the world listened. It’s a conversation with a two-decades younger version of myself, proctored by my mother. It’s about distance, transmission, loss, change, acceptance. It’s referencing outward as a means to explore inward - an effort at digging in while casting out.

It’s about being small; It’s about feeling small.

Advisor: Francisco Souto