Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, and James Turrell


The Lightning Field by Walter De Maria, photo from Dia 

Last week we discussed Walter de Maria, specifically his most famous work, The Lightning Field. Lightning Field is found in a remote desert in western New Mexico. The work is comprised of 400 steel poles spread throughout the field, arranged to be at the same altitude. Located in an area known to have many storms, the work sporadically attracts lightning strikes. At different times of the day, the poles reflect the sunlight, creating an artwork of themselves. The articles we read gave different personal accounts and experiences of those traveling to the famous artwork. Here, we began to see how others interacted with the work, and began to understand how the piece can work without lightning. The articles also highlighted the significance of “space.” In class, our discussion covered how important the experience of the work is, and how each individual experience is completely different from another due to the innumerable amount of factors.

Double Negative by Michael Heizer, photo from CLUI

Our next artist we discussed was Michael Heizer. We covered his most famous work, Double Negative. This earth work is a large trench in the earth, 50 feet deep, 30 feet wide, spanning a total of 1500 feet.  Heizer displaced 240,000 tons of rock for this trench. The trench sits on either side of a natural canyon. The article we read for the class was “Rend(er)ing” by Mark C. Taylor. Many people found this article to be extremely confusing, as it discussed the artwork in a very deeply philosophical and redundant manner. This lead to a very interesting discussion, in which we discovered how Heizer believed in “symbolic logic” and how significant the title, Double Negative, was of the work.

Roden Crater by James Turrell, photo from www.rodencrater.com

Our last artist we discussed was James Turrell. He is known as an artist of light. It is not about light or the record of light, it IS light. His most famous earthwork is Roden Crater. Roden Crater is located in an extinct volcanic crater near Arizona’s Painted Desert. An intricate series of tunnels and sky spaces give interesting views of natural light at different angles, meant to be experienced at different times of the day. Issues with funding and land purchasing leave this work en route to completion. This lead to a discussion in class about how artists may have difficulty with funds, as well as how we as artists can gather support and funding for our own art.

Trevor Campbell, Alyson Walbridge, and Noelle Wiegand

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