Friday, February 27, 2009

Dreaming of a Road Trip after viewing Stephen Shore's "A Road Trip Journal"

July 15, 1973
Mileage: 3370
Breakfast: H&H El Centro Café, Itadoka, SD (cereal)
Lunch: Taylor’s Restaurant, Rapid City, SD (turkey)
Dinner: The Sioux Café, Newcastle, WY (BLT)
Night At: Fountain Motel, Newcastle, WY
TV: Columbo
No Post Cards Distributed

2 Exposures Made: Custer, SD, off U.S. 16

July 18, 1973

August 8, 1973

and what's a road trip without a bad motel (Shore's Cabin #8, Beach Motel, Ashland, Wisconsin, July 9, 1973)?

One of the reasons I am so drawn to Stephen Shore's color photographs is that they were taken about the same time I was born. I like to see the world that was around me as an infant but have no recollection of. Secondly, so many of them are photographs of places that have significant meaning to me (Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, etc.). Thirdly, he and Eggleston remain two of the best photographers of this genre and this era. He makes me question what type of a 'road trip journal' I should be making of our trip but it will be difficult when I want all the postcards I find to resemble those purchased in 1973.

Eliasson and De Maria Comparison

Olafur Eliasson's Lava Room reminds me of De Maria's Earth Room in predictable and obvious ways. The one thing I appreciate about Eliasson's work though is the opportunity for the viewers to walk on the lava. Barred from doing so in De Maria's piece didn't produce desires to jump the fence (especially when seeing all the mold spores growing) but I would imagine the experience would be very different with the lava crunching under my feet.

Tacita Dean's Visit to Spiral Jetty in 1999

From Phaidon's Tacita Dean publication:

"The irony with Smithson is that I didn’t really know his work very well when I went on that quest [Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty], which is a surprise, an embarrassing surprise in a sense because I wasn’t very clued up. There has been a huge Smithson revival in the last few years since I made that journey. A lot of people have been going to Spiral Jetty since it surfaced, so it is all a bit trampled now. What happened was that I was at Sundance in Utah and it was chance thing that someone in NY said they’d heard that Smithson Spiral Jetty had risen. I decided that was what I had to do. I had the directions faxed from the Utah Arts Council and just made this journey. I wasn’t even making an artwork at that point. I was just going to see it out of interest. But for some curious, unconscious reason, I put my DAT recorder on, because I had been recording my discussion with people in Sundance. So I had it with me and just started it at number ten of the 12-oint directions provided by the Arts Council. I subsequently realized that I had to make it into a sound work, because something about that journey had been so extraordinary. It has been sort of transitional in a way, but I had to fabricate points one to ten. So that is why it became, in a way, a fiction. I play with the line between fact and fiction quite a lot."

A little on Turrell's "Roden Crater"

Last image: View of the East Portal Entryway, Roden Crater, 2000

Read this
before we figure out how we are getting in.

And more pictures.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More on Smithson's Spiral Jetty

JR, August 2005

First Pulse Project posted several photographs a few years back.

I remember the salt brine sticking to my shoes for days. If my toes escaped my sandals, they were promptly scraped on the sharp salt deposits. As much as I wanted to submerge myself in the water, planting myself in the middle of the artwork, I knew that I was camping that night a few hundred feet away and had no fresh water to wash away the salt. It was a hot August day and my skin turned as pink as the color of the water. Later on I would see the largest snake of my life when climbing the hillside to get a better view of the thunder storm rolling in. The next morning, the Jetty was covered with white foam.

Jerry Saltz wrote this article in the Village Voice in September 2006, 13 months after my visit. Watching the naked guy swim near the Jetty was a little too close to home.

"On Friday, September 15, the exact day that Utah's high-desert summer flipped into harsh mountain winter, I finally got to see a work of art that had previously only existed for me in the imagination and as a photograph. I went to see Robert Smithson's touchstone earthwork, Spiral Jetty.

Smithson's signature work was built in April, 1970, for around $8,000. Made of huge boulders and masses of dirt deposited (under Smithson's watchful eye) by a small team of construction workers using bulldozers and dump trucks, the sculpture stretches about 1,500 feet from the shore at Rozel Point into the Great Salt Lake, in a long spiral configuration, a sort of arm making a curly fist. While it was built just above water level, from around 1974 until late 2002, Spiral Jetty has been underwater.

Recent reports placed it above water level again, so I went to see for myself. After three hours of driving north and west from central Salt Lake City and almost turning back at the last minute because the dirt road we were navigating was almost washed-out, Spiral Jetty came into plain view.

Because of the weather, the driving rain, the lighting bolts across the shore, and something else I'll mention shortly, my first thoughts were a clutter of Edgar Allan Poe horror stories and Caspar David Friedrich paintings. The lake water was churning gunmetal gray and an unworldly salmon-pink shade. These extreme conditions not only made me put my boots on the wrong feet, they threw me into an ersatz sublime euphoria. I also felt fear. This, in turn, made me ashamed. I had come all this way to see a sculpture by an artist who is talked about as a theoretician, a scientist, and an aesthetician-geologist, and I was experiencing a romantic gush.

Then something amazing happened that made this rush make sense. Just off the main arm of the sculpture what I had thought was an abandoned car seat turned out to be a 6-7, 350-pound, totally naked man, alive, floating face up in the salt water. Whether he was taking his own spiritual cure or performing a self-baptism, he became a portal to think about this work of art. He was at once a device of awe and terror, as well as a representation of my inability to feel these feelings without shame and doubt. Either way I was freezing, wet, thrilled, terrified, and nervous that he was a mass murderer. I also took some great snapshots."

How many photographs will we take that will look just like these?

and will they compare to the tomato juice, milk, and salt combination made in the backyard of a house in North Portland?

Michael Heizer - NYT Profile from 2005


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Idealized Maya Lin's Confluence Project

Does the dramatic black and white depiction hide the seagull guano better? or the grass growing in between the text? I am still shocked this work was in the condition we saw it in last summer when it was just over a year old!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Walter De Maria's "Earth Room"

Well there were a couple of surprises.... It was humid!! There were mold spores!! I loved how the dirt swooped up underneath the window panes. Apparently it is also watered about once a month but there are no signs of foot prints anywhere. Li and I were sneaking cell phone photos despite the fact that there were signs everywhere telling us not to. The man at the desk was disinterested in our presence and it wasn't difficult to take these images at all (unlike you and I nearly getting kicked out of the Wexner!). I wish they were of higher quality but that is what Dia is for I suppose.

[A few days later...] I found this on youtube... Same guy who obviously knew Li and I were taking photos but probably thought the i-phone camera wouldn't pose any threats. I would love to see him go out on the dirt with his 100' hose and it's too bad the video doesn't show that!

Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

This book looks worthy of reading regarding our project.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thinking about Claudia Angelmaier and Spiral Jetty

I saw this photograph in Alexis Rockman's Manifest Destiny and was amazed at how bizarre it looked. I thought I would dig up another photo as a comparison (which ultimately led to scanning every image I saw in publications featuring this work over the next few months). Green rocks and blue water = really??? Is this even the Great Salt Lake?

Check out Claudia's work too.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA July 2008

Expectation vs. Reality

When I first learned about earthworks in Cheryl Shurtleff's Contemporary Art History summer crash course, I remember her referring to Western Washington University in Bellingham. It was known for commissioning earthworks artists to create pieces for the campus that were smaller scale representations of what they would "show" in remote places (at least in the case of Nancy Holt). My friend Cass and I traveled there in July 2008 and what we found was ultimately disappointing. A new building under construction left the Nauman and Holt pieces inaccessible (two of the top three I wanted to see). The above photographs show the closest I could get without trespassing (not that that's been an issue in the past - ahem).

I most wanted to see Robert Morris's Untitled (Steam Work for Bellingham) but it was far too warm a day for that. Wishing I could see the artworks as they were depicted in the Sculpture Collection guide (as viewed above) became the common theme.

I'm always interested in viewing Richard Serra's site specific sculptures including the early, far less monumental works like the one of Anita Powell featured below at Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania. Blatantly touching them is not something I normally do but when they are presented outdoors in a public setting, knowing full well that a myriad of other people leave their oils and graffiti all over them, manhandling them became irresistible.

Thinking about burial and earthworks

Image of Claes Oldenburg's performance and info from the Museet for Samtidskunst website:

Oldenburg realized his first outdoor public monument in 1967; Placid Civic Monument took the form of a Conceptual performance/action behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with a crew of gravediggers digging a six-by-three-foot rectangular hole in the ground.

And info on Sol LeWitt:

The Independent
14 April 2007
Charles Darwent

... in 1968, he had buried a steel equivalent of the work in the garden of a Dutch collector. Called Buried Cube Containing an Object of Importance but Little Value, this was widely seen as the artist's deadpan farewell to minimalism, a movement whose reliance on materials had become too baroque for LeWitt's purist tastes. In the same year, he made the first of his famous wall drawings directly onto the wall of a New York gallery. Instructed to paint over the work at the end of the show, the gallery's horror-struck owner refused. She insisted that LeWitt paint it over himself, which he did without demur.

Shawn Patrick Landis's "Air Check" in Double Negative, 2003

Chet told me to look this up from the cover of Sculpture magazine July/August 2008.

It looks like Landis had to clear a bunch of the boulders that had fallen inside of it out. Another thing I keep thinking about... there won't be any grass around these earthworks to merit buying a lawnmower!