Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A couple things about Sun Tunnels

Nancy and I arrived in Wendover, Utah in the late afternoon after spending significant time at the Bonneville Salt Flats. We jumped into the freezing hotel pool, ate an overpriced buffet at the Rainbow (note to self: buffet dinners at casinos are a waste of money for vegetarians), and drove rather quickly to Lucin, Utah as we were trying to arrive well before the setting sun. We encountered a very large puddle of water that Nancy promptly donned her moustache and Michael Heizer jacket to ford because "this is a man's job" and John Ott's "use common sense" was ringing in our ears. Fortunately it wasn't as deep as it looked (but the rental car suggested otherwise = whoops!).

I have had this vision of seeing how close we could drive to an earthwork since we started this trip and that was solved rather quickly upon our arrival - Sun Tunnels was the ideal candidate. Afterward, what we quickly found was disturbing. Someone within the last 24 hours had driven through the middle of the artwork and got stuck. Their solution was to use all of their car mats in an effort to provide traction to escape the deep pit they were quickly making in the soft earth. We are not sure how they escaped but they left all of their mats inside one of the tunnels, enough tire gouges to provide a distraction, and someone wrote in the mud in between the absent wheel base "Fuck Your Karma." HIGHLY ANNOYING.

The sun was quickly falling and we were frantically running around trying to photograph a burial and the general vicinity before stationing ourselves in the tunnels to see the setting sun. We were very happy that the sun did indeed fall in nearly the same location as it would have on the solstice two days earlier.

I set to work on a collection box and Nancy began filling the tire gouges in a performance of endurance - positioning dirt, removing the text written in the mud, and "cleaning up" the area to the best of her ability. About 20 minutes later, fatigued, she stopped. Unfortunately we didn't have large shovels to smooth over the rest of the earth.

We stayed well into the evening, catching a sliver of a moon setting in the western night sky and a planet we guessed was Venus (but that was just an assumption). There were a couple sound recordings - screams and whistle blowing. I tried very hard to deposit the rock I brought from Spiral Jetty on top of one of the concrete tubes but failed each time I tossed it over to hear it roll off the other side. In frustration, I hurled it into the middle of the tubes announcing, "It is now here" as soon as it fell. I don't know what compelled me to bring a piece of Robert Smithson to Nancy Holt - it resides in the mud that Nancy D. tried to fill and as a result, I brought a cracked, dried portion to bring to Double Negative - carrying a piece of one to the next. I will figure out where this is going but for now, I don't have an answer.

Seeing Sun Tunnels at the time it was meant to be viewed changed everything for me. Sitting down at the edge of the most westerly tube, catching my breath, and watching the sun dip below the horizon was an eye opener. Wishing we had more time to spend before night fell is my only regret.

We stopped along the road outside Montello, Nevada to stare at the Milky Way lying on the shoulder of the road watching a satellite fly overhead. I had not seen such a clear night sky with relatively little light pollution in years. I will take back the memory of the stars with me - though we did not see them inside Nancy Holt's tubes, we were able to experience the sunset and that was all that I needed to qualify visit this as a success.

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