projection 27

Ruins & Entropy Part I 
Part I of a two part programme curated by Aoife Desmond. Dr. Francis Halsall (Co-director, MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD) will introduce the programme. 

6.30pm / 30 January 2013
Irish Film Institute, 6 Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

EFC and IFI present the first part of a two part programme curated by Aoife Desmond. Ruins & Entropy Part 1 focuses on two seminal film works by the artist Robert Smithson; Spiral Jetty 1970 and Mono Lake 1968-2004 (made with his partner Nancy Holt). These two stunning films document Smithson’s working process, his major land sculpture Spiral Jetty and informal site visits with friends to the alkaline Mono Lake in North America. Smithson’s critical writing on entropy and ruins are a huge influence on art and theory since the 60’s. This programme takes Smithson’s projects as a starting point and explores their relevance for a new generation of filmmakers, who explore and critique the contemporary landscape.

Dr. Francis Halsall's introductory talk can be read here

Robert Smithson, "Spiral Jetty", 1970. Estate of Robert Smithson, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York. 

35 mins, colour, sound, 1970

The film Spiral Jetty is a "portrait" of Smithson's monumental earthwork of the same name at Rozel Point in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. Completed in April 1970, Spiral Jetty is an iconic earthwork and Smithson's most renowned piece. At 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide, Smithson's spiral of basalt rocks, mud, and salt crystals juts out from the shore and coils dramatically into luminous red water. The film documents the making of this earthwork, which has attained near-mythic status as it has disappeared and then re-emerged from the lake over the past decades. A voiceover by Smithson illuminates the ideas and processes that informed the evolution of the work, with allusions to prehistoric relics and radical notions of space, scale and landscape. Poetic and oddly hypnotic, the film includes stunning aerial footage of Smithson running along the length of the glowing spiral in what seems like an ecstatic ritual. The film Spiral Jetty, together with a series of photoworks taken during the construction of the earthwork, have become integral parts of the overall project.

After years of deterioration caused by natural entropic forces, Spiral Jetty was acquired by the Dia Foundation as a gift from the Smithson estate in 1999.

Camera: Robert Fiore, Nancy Holt, Robert Logan, Robert Smithson.
Sound: Robert Fiore, Robert Logan. 
Editing: Barbara Jarris.

Robert Smithson & Nancy Holt, "Mono Lake", 1968-2004. Estate of Robert Smithson, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York. 

20mins, colour, sound, 1968-2004

Featuring Super 8 film footage and Instamatic slide images of artists Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer and Nancy Holt as they visited California's Mono Lake in July of 1968, this piece was edited by Holt in 2004. Mono Lake candidly captures the young artists as they explore the haunting landscape of one of the oldest and most distinctive lakes in North America. Heizer and Smithson are heard reading facts about the unique ecology, geology and natural phenomena of this alkaline lake. The voiceovers are set against filmed images and snapshots of the artists within the uncanny beauty of the lake's environment. Smithson is shown collecting cinders from the volcanic hills on the lake's shores, which were used to make his 1968 sculpture "Mono Lake Nonsite."

Mono Lake is a document of a unique natural environment, a "home movie" of the artists' 1968 road trip, and an intimate view of three seminal figures in the earth art movement as they interact with the Western landscapes that are so central to their work.

The following text, which appears on-screen, provides further background on the recording and editing of the piece: "Mono Lake was shot in 1968 on Super 8 film and Instamatic slides, which were later transferred to video. Smithson selected the readings and the music by Michel Legrand for the early, unedited soundtrack, which was recorded close to the time of the filming. The two country and western songs were sung by Waylon Jennings at a performance in Las Vegas attended by Heizer, Holt and Smithson in the week before the trip to Mono Lake, California... Holt and Smithson originally planned to edit Mono Lake together. The project was subsequently put aside until 2004, when it was edited by Holt for the Robert Smithson Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles."

Robert Smithson, with Michael Heizer and Nancy Holt, caught on film July 27, 1968. Camera: Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson. 
Soundtrack Readings: Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson. 
Producer/Editor: Nancy Holt. 
Music by Michel Legrand from the soundtrack of the film "Bay of Angels" by Jacques Demy, Cine-Tamaris, 1963. 
Songs by Waylon Jennings: "Walk on Out of My Mind," (RCA Victor, 1967); "Stop the World (and Let Me Off)," (RCA Victor, 1965). Readings from the booklet "Rock Hounding Out of Bishop" written by Cora B. Houghtaling, Chalfont Press, Bishop, CA, 1967. 
A Holt/Smithson Video.

Thanks to the Robert Smithson Estate, courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York / Shanghai for the permission to screen these films and to Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) New York for the screening copies.