The Romantic poet, Novalis, called miners ‘astrologers in reverse’ because they plunge deep into the Earth and uncover ‘hidden origins.’This project simultaneously excavates my own origins, and the mining past of my hometown, Franklin, New Jersey.
Franklin rests atop ancient Pre-Cambrian rock in the Highlands of New Jersey. The rock is intruded by a complex iron and zinc-bearing deposit, said to resemble the hull of a ship. Over the centuries, miners perilously extracted the valuable ore, as theories of its genesis were advanced and refuted.
In Spring 2013, I, the Astrologer In Reverse began surveying Franklin's physical, as well as mental, topography. Field Notes, video-recorded interviews, photos, maps, and more, document my time. Astrologer in a Reverse is a travelogue, a nature documentary, and an ethnographic film, illuminating the foreign within the familiar. I am pursuing the invisible layers embedded in people, culture, and dirt.
This deeply hidden stratum is characterized, metaphorically, by the now sealed off mine levels extending 1,150 feet below Franklin's surface. It is here that memories, dramatic collisions, and dynamic forces are stored. Exploring these regions, I frequently consult the miner, whose expertise in traversing dark, underground territory guides my own hermeneutic quest.