Just saw James Crump’s Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art (2015) at IFC, which chronicles the rise of land art in the 1960s-70s, a rise that involved (as this film tells it) an almost schizophrenic relationship to NYC: land art grew from there, and was discussed there, but “happened” elsewhere. In a sense, the film captured something, too, it didn’t mean to: it showed land art, it showed artists working with land/earth as medium; it also showed them embroiled in the micropolitics of the (NYC) art world, and more importantly something of the tension between the earth/land as medium and the other media that go with making that medium known, in the land art sense. Very interesting.
Particularly featured are a number of still extant works:
-Robert Smithon’s Spiral Jetty (1970) in Utah
-Nany Holt’s Sun Tunnels in Utah (self-guide)
-Michael Heizer’s Double Negative (1970) in Utah
-Water de Maria’s 1km*1km Lightning Field
One of the questions that returns through the film, and which comes up right at the end also, concerns the specificity of land art, i.e. can we take a photo, or make a film about it, without flattening it, without returning the work back to the space of the gallery and the art book? The Getty’s attempt to offer access to Spiral Jetty via a 360 degree panorama, via a time-lapse video, etc. is a case in point: without it, I would have much less of an idea of what SJ is- but what kind of access is this?
Was interesting to watch this the same day that I came across an article in the Guardian about Shodan, a search engine that searches not the web, but the Internet of Things, such as webcams of sleeping babies and, even more alarmingly, critical systems such as SCADA environments connected to power plants and suchlike- there is, here, a strangely similar question of the concrete and the virtual, the medium and the media, town and city, here and there.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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