Artbound

S5 E2 | FULL EPISODE

50th Flashback: Earthworks #4

To commemorate KCET's 50th anniversary, "Artbound" dives into the vaults to uncover groundbreaking arts programming that aired during the 1980s and 1990s, featuring land art from environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Lita Albuquerque, and Rachel Rosenthal.

AIRED: October 02, 2014 | 0:28:19
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

[CAPTIONS MADE POSSIBLE BY KCET

TELEVISION]

>> NEXT, FIVE CONTEMPORARY

ARTIST TRAVELED THROUGH

PICTURESQUE CALIFORNIA AND

DISCOVER THE MAGIC AND POWER OF

THE LAND.

>> OF ALWAYS HAD THE SENSE THAT

ESPECIALLY IN THIS COUNTRY,

THERE'S A NOTION OF MAN OVER

NATURE.

>> NOBODY SEES THE LAND.

>> JOIN US AS THEY CREATE ART

FROM NATURE ON "ARTWORKS,

EARTHWORKS."

>> FIRST OF ALL, GOING OUT TO

THE DRY LAKE BEDS, THE REASON I

GO THERE IS BECAUSE OF THE

CREDIBLE EXPANSE OF WHITE, IT'S

ALMOST LIKE A BLANK CANVAS.

IT'S USING THE EARTH AS A BLANK

CANVAS.

IT'S VERY MINIMAL IN TERMS OF

MINIMAL ART.

ANYTHING YOU DO TO IT WILL POP

OUT BECAUSE IT'S THAT INCREDIBLE

EXPANSE OF FLATNESS.

I GO OUT THERE WITH THE ENTIRE

CREW AND THE FIRST THING WE DO

IS THAT WE LOCATE THE DIRECTION

LINES, THE NORTH, EAST, SOUTH,

AND WEST POINTS.

THIS PARTICULAR PIECE HAS THE

SUNDIAL ON THE NORTH, EAST, AND

WEST POINTS WHICH HAVE SHADOWS.

THE SOUTH, WHICH DOESN'T HAVE

ANY SHADOWS, IS THE STONE.

I JUST LOVE THE DUST TO DUST.

IT'S LIKE PUTTING SOMETHING TO

REST.

WE CAME FROM SOMETHING VERY

SENSITIVE.

ESSENTIALLY WHAT I WAS USING WAS

JUST THE EARTH AND GROUND-UP

EARTH, AND THE NOTION OF DUST TO

DUST WAS REALLY MEANINGFUL TO

ME.

YOU GO THERE AND YOU ARE

APPLYING THESE SEGMENTS THAT GET

BLOWN BY THE WIND.

IT IS THE EARTH ITSELF YOU'RE

PUTTING BACK IN THERE.

WHEN I GO OUT THERE TO DO A

PIECE, IT'S NOT PLANNED OUT.

IT'S NOT MATHEMATICALLY WORK

OUT.

I HAVE A CERTAIN IDEA OF WHAT I

WANT TO DO, AND I START DOING.

AND IN THE PROCESS ITSELF TAKES

OVER, SO IN CREATING, I SET IT

UP SO THE CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT,

AND THEN LET THE PROCESS START

IN THE LIFE OF THE PEACE AS IT'S

CREATED.

MY PIECES ONLY LAST A FEW HOURS.

PEOPLE SAY HOW CAN YOU SPEND

YOUR TIME DOING THINGS THAT

DON'T LAST.

THE FIRST TIME I FELT I HAD

RUINED A PIECE PERIODIC IS

CRYING, IT WAS TERRIBLE.

I REALIZED IT WAS SAYING

SOMETHING.

IT MADE ME AWARE OF THE POWER OF

NATURE.

WE DID IT.

WOW.

IT'S GREAT.

THAT IS NICE.

THAT CIRCLE LOOKS FABULOUS.

ONE OF THE REALLY EXCITING

THINGS IS THAT WE ARE IN THE

MIDDLE OF THE REVOLUTION IN

PERSPECTIVE.

I'M SPEAKING TO THAT.

I'M SPEAKING TO THAT CHANGE IN

PERSPECTIVE.

I'M ALSO SPEAKING OF THAT

CONNECTION TO THE EARTH.

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SQUARE, IN

THE MIDDLE OF THE CIRCLE, AND

THE MIDDLE OF THE DIAMOND.

YOU'RE COMPLETELY IN THE CENTER

AND YOU ARE CONNECTED.

>> THE PROJECT IS THE UMBRELLAS.

IN CALIFORNIA ON INTERSTATE

FIVE, THE NORTHERN PART OF LOS

ANGELES COUNTY.

20 FEET TALL AND 20 FEET IN

DIAMETER.

I STARTED TO WORK ON THE PROJECT

IN 1986.

I HAD TO PUT TOGETHER ALL MY

IDEAS AND CONVINCE PEOPLE OF THE

PLACE WHERE EACH UMBRELLA SHOULD

GO.

AT THAT TIME THERE WERE DRAWINGS

.

IT WAS ONLY MY VISION.

LET'S GO ON UP WITH IT.

>> WE STARTED TO MOVE THE

STRUCTURE TO THE SITE, IT WAS

VERY ENJOYABLE, VERY EXCITING.

WE STARTED WITH 1500 UMBRELLAS

IN CALIFORNIA AND 1600 UMBRELLAS

IN JAPAN.

WE COMPLETED THE WORK IN THREE

WEEKS STARTING OCTOBER 21.

IS LIKE THE RENAISSANCE OF THE

ROOF OF THE HOUSE.

WHAT WE'RE REALLY BUILDING, WE

ARE BUILDING HOUSES WITHOUT

WALLS.

I LIKE IT BECAUSE IT MATCHES THE

POLL.

NOT ONLY ARE WE CHOOSING THE

COLOR, WERE CHOOSING THE FABRIC,

THE MOVEMENT OF THE WIN, THAT

ENERGY OF THE FABRIC.

>> YOU CAN LOOK AT THE SUN

THROUGH THAT FABRIC.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE LOOKING AT THE

SUN, BARRING YOUR EYES.

-- BURNING YOUR EYES.

>> NOW WE WILL CHANGE THE CLOTH

ON THIS ONE AND TRIED AGAIN.

>> SOME OF THESE SLOPES ARE

RATHER PRECIPITOUS.

I DID HAVE SOME DIFFICULTY IN

UNDERSTANDING OR BELIEVING IT

WOULD BE POSSIBLE, BUT THEN

AFTER SEEING HOW HE APPROACHES

THE PROJECT USING ENGINEERS AND

OTHER TYPES OF SPECIALISTS, I'M

PRETTY WELL CONVINCED NOW THAT

IT'S DOABLE.

>> I WOULD END THE ROPE THERE.

THE TAPE GOES HERE, YOU WOULD

NEVER SEE IT FROM THE OUTSIDE OR

THE INSIDE.

>> THERE IS TOO MUCH FREE FABRIC

HERE.

THAT'S NUMBER TWO.

>> WHAT WE ARE DOING, YOU CAN

TELL THE DIFFERENCE AND THE

SIMILARITY, HOW PEOPLE LIVE IN

THE SURROUNDINGS.

YOU CAN REFLECT VERY VIVIDLY AND

VERY STRONGLY.

YOU HAVE A RELATION TO URBAN

PLANNING.

NOT ONLY THE PHYSICAL QUALITY

BUT ALSO THE AREA CALL CHARLIE

HOW IT IS USED BY HUNDREDS OF

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.

-- OF THE AREA CULTURALLY, HOW

IT IS USED BY HUNDREDS OF

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.

>> IT'S VERY MUCH LIKE A LOT OF

THE STAGES IN LOS ANGELES THAT

ARE ABOUT THESE IN BETWEEN,

THESE INTERSTITIAL SPACES.

THE PARTS THAT ARE FASCINATING

TO ME ARE NOT THE OPTICS, IT'S

THE STUFF BETWEEN, THE

COLLISIONS OF THINGS.

IT'S A MANIFESTATION OF THAT.

I'VE ALWAYS HAD THE SENSE THAT

ESPECIALLY IN THIS COUNTRY,

THERE IS A NOTION OF MAN OVER

NATURE VERSUS WIT, OR SOMEHOW

CONNECTED.

AND THE NOTION OF THE BUILDING

WHICH SUPERSEDES THE SITE, WHICH

IS ALWAYS PLACED ON THE SITE TO

COMMUNICATE THAT IT IS MORE

IMPORTANT THAN THE SITE.

IN THIS CASE, WE WERE TRYING TO

FIND A BALANCE.

AGAIN, IT'S ABOUT A SITUATION

WHERE THE BUILDING IS

SURROUNDING THE SITE.

IT IS GATHERING THE SITE.

SO WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT IS THE

BASIC CENTER OF THE SITE IS LEFT

UNTOUCHED, AND THE BUILDING IN

THIS CASE WORKS AROUND A

CIRCULAR WALL WHICH IN FACT

ENCLOSES THE SITE, WHICH HAS TO

DO WITH ALSO PRODUCING THE

BOUNDARIES IN A VERY

CONVENTIONAL SET OF NOTIONS

WHICH TALKS ABOUT WALLS AND

PLACING, OCCUPYING A SITE AND

SEPARATING IT, A WALL THAT IS A

BARRIER FROM THE EXTERIOR WORLD,

BUT IN FACT LEAVES THE PEACE

UNTOUCHED.

THIS IS THE CRAWFORD HOUSE.

WHAT YOU ARE SEEING IS ACTUALLY

A SINGLE HOUSE THAT IS BROKEN

DOWN INTO FOUR PIECES.

THIS IS A GUEST HOUSE.

YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE MAIN HOUSE

IN THE UPPER PART OF A SITE

WHICH IS BROKEN DOWN ITSELF INTO

TWO PIECES, A BEDROOM KIND OF

PRIVATE WING AND A SOCIAL KIND

OF LIVING WING.

THIS IS THE FAR SIDE OF THE SITE

BEHIND WHAT'S GOING TO BE A

TOPIARY WALL.

THERE IS A STUDIO IN THE GARAGE.

THE HOUSE IS A PROCESS.

YOU ARE LOOKING AT SOMETHING

THAT EVOLVED FROM ONE DIRECTION

THAT IN FACT METAMORPHO SIZED

INTO SOMETHING ELSE, WHICH IS

REALLY THE WAY THAT ALL WORK

DEVELOPS IT AWAY.

IT STARTED OUT WITH A VERY

SYSTEMATIC SET OF PYLONS.

THESE CONCRETE PIECES, AND IN

FACT THEY ARE ALL CONCRETE.

THE IDEA WAS THERE GOING TO BE

THE TOTEMS WHICH HAD A

PREHISTORY THAT WERE SET ON THE

SIDE.

THEY REPRESENTED THE FIRST

MAN-MADE SET OF OBJECTS THAT

WERE PLACED ON THE SITE AND IT

WAS MANDATORY THAT THEY WERE

FREE OF ANY LIBERAL AND

FUNCTIONAL USE.

THESE PYLONS WENT ACROSS THE

SITE.

YOU CAN SEE THE FIRST ONE, WHICH

IS THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS LEFT

PURE AND IT WAS MADE OF

CONCRETE.

THE NEXT ONE YOU SEE HAS A PIECE

OF ITS OUTLINE IN WOOD.

THE PIECES MARCHED THROUGH MAKE

UP THE BASIC ORGANIZING RHYTHMS

OF THE BUILDING.

THE PYLONS AND THAT EARTH PIECES

THAT MAKE UP THE SPATIAL RHYTHM

OF THE BUILDING.

ALSO THE SKY PIECES, THE TWO

THINGS MAKE UP THE EARTH AND THE

SKY AND THE BUILDING ESSENTIALLY

IS THE THING THAT COMES BETWEEN.

THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF ENERGY IS

INSTILLED IN THE PLACES THAT

HAVE THE MOST VALUE AND

ACTIVITY.

IN THIS CASE YOU ARE LOOKING AT

THE ROOM WHICH IS THE MOST

PREVALENT SPACE AND THE HOUSE

AND THE MOST FORMAL SPACE.

IT COMES WITH THE PIECES OF THE

LANGUAGE IN TERMS OF THE NOTION

OF INTERACTION, WHERE ROOMS OF

LESS SIGNIFICANCE ARE SIMPLER

AND HAVE LESS STYLE.

IT IS EXPRESSING THE

CONTEMPORARY CONDITION AND

COMING TO GRIPS WITH REALITY,

HAVING TO DO WITH THE COMPLEXITY

OF THE WORLD, HAVING TO DO WITH

THE IMPERFECTION OF THE WORLD.

>> I DON'T CONSIDER MYSELF AN

ENVIRONMENTALIST.

IN FACT I SORT OF HATE THAT

CONCEPT.

I JUST CONSIDER MYSELF A

CITIZEN.

I PHOTOGRAPHED THE DESERT IN

THIS AREA AS SORT OF A METAPHOR,

AND ENVIRONMENTAL METAPHOR OF

THE HUMAN CONDITION IN THE SENSE

THAT THE IMAGES I'M ABLE TO

BRING UP HERE CALL FORTH A LOT

OF OTHER ISSUES OF HOW

CIVILIZATION HAS TREATED THE

NATURAL LANDSCAPE.

AS OPPOSED TO PHOTOGRAPHING AND

GOING AND FINDING THESE PERFECT

CURLS OF MOVEMENT, I'M

INTERESTED IN WHAT WAS DONE IN

THAT RELATIONSHIP.

THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH THE SIERRA

CLUB IS THAT EN MASSE THEY ARE

PERPETUATING A MYTH THAT KEEPS

PEOPLE FROM LOOKING AT THE

TRUTH.

THE SALTON SEA IS ACTUALLY A

MAN-MADE LAKE.

WHAT HAPPEN IN THE EARLY 1900S

WAS AN EXPERIMENTAL IRRIGATION

PROJECT WITH THE COLORADO RIVER

COMING FROM ARIZONA, THERE WAS

AN ENGINEERING DISASTER AND THE

WATER CAP POURING INTO THE

SALTON SEA, MAKING IT THE SALTON

SEA.

IN THE 1970'S, THE IRRIGATION

COMPANY PUSHED TOO MUCH WATER

INTO IT AND FLOODED OUT ALL THE

PEOPLE THAT OVER THE YEARS HAD

COME TO LIVE ALONG THE SEASHORE.

SO IT'S SORT OF LIKE A FLOOD

MUSEUM.

SOMETHING ABOUT THIS PLACE, WHAT

I WAS SAYING BEFORE THE BEAUTY

OF THE MOUNTAINS OVER THERE, THE

SALTON SEA, VIRTUALLY VACATED.

IT'S AN INCREDIBLE PARKING LOT

OF CIVILIZATION.

CARS DECOMPOSING.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION THAT CAN BE

AIMED AT MY WORK IS, AM I

PHOTOGRAPHING THE AWFUL THINGS?

BEAUTY AND HUMOR ARE TWO

INCREDIBLY POWERFUL STRATEGIES

TO ENGAGE PEOPLE.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL METAPHOR, --

WE WALKED INTO THE 21ST CENTURY,

SORT OF LIKE THE SALTON SEA,

JUST BROKEN DOWN BUILDINGS AND

CARS AND COLLAPSING FREEWAYS AND

THE POST-APOCALYPTIC VISION.

THE DEAD MAN -- DEAD ANIMALS I

HAVE BEEN PHOTOGRAPHING OUR NEAR

A MILITARY BASE IN NORTHERN

NEVADA.

AN AREA THAT IS SUBJECTED TO

ATOMIC TEST LIKE IN 1963.

IF EVERYBODY JUST DID A LITTLE

BIT, IF EVERYBODY CONTRIBUTES A

LITTLE SHARE, IT WOULD BE MUCH

MORE POWERFUL THAN A HANDFUL OF

PEOPLE GOING OUT AND SACRIFICING

FOR THE CAUSE.

I HAVE AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SON AND

I THINK EVER SINCE I'VE HAD HIM

IT HAS ABSOLUTELY TURNED MY

WHOLE IDEA AROUND.

IT'S FRIGHTENING TO ME, THE SORT

OF THING I ENVISION FOR HIM IN

THE NEXT 20 YEARS IS SCARY.

IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT I CAN

SORT OF PULLED THE BEAUTY OUT OF

THIS ABYSS THAT WAS CREATED.

>> DURING MY FIRST BIG VACATION

OF YEARS IN THAT DESERT I WAS IN

NEEDLES DOING MY LAUNDRY WHEN

THIS OLD CODGER CAME NOSING

AROUND THE VAN.

HE SAID WHENEVER I SEE A SINGLE

IN A VAN, I LOOK FOR THE L.O.W.

STICKER.

I SAID WHAT IS THAT?

HE SAID LONER ON WHEELS.

I WAS DISQUALIFIED BECAUSE I GOT

MARRIED.

I THOUGHT ABOUT THAT, LONER ON

WHEELS.

I GUESS I WAS THAT ALL RIGHT.

IN GAIA.

GAIA, THE EARTH.

GAIA IS ABOVE.

EVERYWHERE I LOOK, THERE IS

GARBAGE.

AS FAR AS I CAN CLIMB IN THE

REMOTEST CANYON I SEE IT.

CARCASSES, JOCK.

-- JUNK.

I CRY A LOT.

I DO CEREMONIES.

I LOOK MY AGE.

60.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND AGING, OR

DYING, NOT REALLY.

I MUST REMIND MYSELF THAT I'M

60, I AM A CRONE, AND I WILL

DIE.

60.

OUR AVERAGE LIFESPAN IS ABOUT 75

YEARS OLD NOW.

SINCE THE EARTH IS ABOUT 4.5

BILLION YEARS OLD AND OUR SON

WON'T BECOME A RED GIANT FOR

ANOTHER 5 MILLION YEARS, IN

HUMAN TERMS IT MEANS THAT GAIA

IS ABOUT 30.

MUCH TOO YOUNG TO DIE, WOULDN'T

YOU SAY?

UNDER THE VAST SKY, IN THE

DESERT, SHEER UGLINESS AND

INSULT.

IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE THESE

TOWNS.

WHO DREAMS THEM UP?

DON'T THEY HAVE EYES?

DON'T THEY SEE THE LAND?

WESTERN INDUSTRIAL LAND, WHO

WOULD IGNORE THE PLACE, THAT

CONNECTION?

WE ARE ALL MONSTERS, AREN'T WE,

ALL OF US?

CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, ALL

DESCENDENTS FROM THE FUNDAMENTAL

MONSTER, ANCESTRAL ATOMS, NOT OF

WOMAN BORN.

JUST LIKE FRANKENSTEIN.

6000 YEARS AGO.

I GUESS HE COULDN'T TAKE FEMALE

CONTAMINATION.

GET THOSE OUT OF MY SIGHT.

ONLY A MONSTER OF NOT OF WOMAN

BORN WOULD BE SO STUPID WOULD BE

SAWING OFF THE BRANCH HE SITS

ON.

ONE TIPTOES AROUND THE SICK BED.

THE JACK RABBIT, THE KANGAROO

RAT.

I FEEL ISOLATED AND SHUNNED.

I WANT THE MOTHER TO KNOW ME BY

SIGHT AND ENGULFED ME IN HER

ARMS AS SHE DOES ALL THE OTHER

DWELLERS.

BUT OF COURSE I'M NOT A DWELLER,

I'M A TOURIST.

AFTER ALL THOSE DECADES, STILL

HOMELESS.

MY CORE MELTS WITH LOVE FOR YOU

AND COMPASSION AND TENDERNESS.

I COULD KILL LIONS FOR YOU, GAIA

.

I AM FILLED WITH LOVE.

FORMIDABLE P

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