Multi-media artist Peat Duggins 'feature-length documentary "A Survey of Open Space" has just been released by Devolver Digital.
Duggins' charming, thoughtful and quirky film follows the 14-week, 4,000-mile cross-continent bicycle ride made in 2009 by three young urbanites who idealistically set out to see if they can find the last wild place in America.
Duggins filmed while Zach Hall, Chris Comfort and Michaela Duggins began their epic journey starting on the Texas-Mexico border and eventually ending up at the Arctic Circle.
In tandem with the film, Duggins also created a sketchbook of the journey, a diary illustrated in Duggins' mash-up style of classic comic drawing.
The cyclists encounter some breathtaking scenery and some odd characters. They struggle with the physical demands of the long bike ride, the constant exposure to the elements.
And Duggins' camera also captures the riders changing attitudes towards and definitions of wilderness, highlighting the conflict between the ideal of the wild and the realities of disappearing wilderness at the beginning of the 21st century.
After all, the American West is now the remnant of the frontier. Is there really any wild space left? And what does it say about American culture that we still long to find it?
The film had its debut at the Fusebox Festival in 2013 and netted the Austin Critics' Table Award for Best One-of-a-Kind Work of Art.
A longtime Austinite before relocating to Boston, Duggins co-founded the Fresh Up Club in 2003 one of the first of the new wave of indie East Austin arts space. He also co-founded the gallery Okay Mountain in 2006 which later became the celebrated artist collective exhibiting under the same name.
More info at asurveyofopenspace.com