Stake from a Mythical Lake

Prospector Stake_3.jpg

Stake from a Mythical Lake is a 7-minute experimental video with an original soundtrack.


A wooden prospector’s stake made of cedar, cataloged as a “pointed object.” The exposed, craggy top was blasted away—years peeled back—by sand-laden winds in Wyoming, blowing in hard from the west. Its natural waveform is dramatic. Over the course of 30 years, its eroded wavelengths emerged, busting outwards—visual tension moving away from its equally dramatic vertical cracks. The bottom third of the stake remains cylindrical, stained a darker shade of brown by the earth. Small pieces crumble off every time it’s moved.

This stake was once planted in the ground at a fictional lake. Its wood was an eroded witness to the total solar eclipse of 1878. It exists in a web of inaccuracies and half-truths, yet the story of the marring of its surface is undeniably concrete.

The name “Lake Edison,” which is part of the tale scripted onto the tag connected to the prospector’s stake, was never officially adopted. The honorific has been worn away by time, much like the cedar pole that was planted in the same spot just a few years after the eclipse.

When the stake was driven into the ground at the edge of the lake, it was done so based on claim speculation, attributed to the discovery of copper deposits in the area. Temporary settlements were established. Prospectors rushed in to reap the metals. 

Something as simple as a wooden stake has the potential to haunt us, too, just like the half-true legends and ghosts born out of the violence of settlement. Sound is another way to recover the traces.