Drawing – Jim Denevan
At low tide Jim Denevan makes large-scale freehand drawings into sand, temporal earth-art works that are consumed by the next incoming tide. Particularly of interest are the rule-based works, where circle-packing and space-filling processes are employed.
‘After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws – labouring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles’
Jim’s spiral drawing immediately reminded me of one of the most celebrated of all earth works, Robert Smithson’s, Spiral Jetty. While over the years there have been many appeals against environmental erosion of the Spiral Jetty, Smithson has, interestingly, maintained that entropy is essential part of the work.
Denevans drawings also reminded me of Richard Longs work, another land artist who’s most well know pieces were based around walks. Long incorporated natural sculpture, photography, text and maps of the landscape he walked over. His sculptures also used space-filling arrangements of natural slates, Midsummer Cirlces could be imagined as a natural data visualisation of the earth from which the slate was taken from, in accordance with it’s relative temporal heliocentricity.
Long also made artworks that were textural desciptions of aspects of his walks that he called Textworks, Watershed is a good example. Aside from having the kind of resonance you might encounter with a Haiku poem, the Textworks also seem to have a strong connection with Sol Lewitt’s procedural descriptions for making drawings.
“Twenty-one isometric cubes of varying sizes each with colour ink washes superimposed.” Description for a wall drawing, No. 766, Sol Lewitt.
Soundscape – Mati Klawein
A FIVE DAY WALK.
FIRST DAY TEN MILES
SECOND DAY TWENTY MILES
THIRD DAY THIRTY MILES
FOURTH DAY FORTY MILES
FIFTH DAY FIFTY MILES
TOTNES TO BRISTOL BY ROAD
Lewitt’s drawing descriptions have more recently be accepted as a precursor to contemporary generative/software art and this is explored in depth by Casey Reas’s in his excellent essay on Software & Drawings. Lewitt’s ‘drawing poems’ are designed to generate artefacts, whereas Long’s ‘walk poems’ are documentary fragments or ‘recordings’. For the enthusiastic psychogeographic rambler there is no reason not to apply Long’s descriptions to generate walks in themselves, or even generate computational art for that matter. Long’s textworks are essentially scant recipes reversed.
Pi Crop Circle
The most mathematically complex of all earth/land artworks are undoubtedly crop circles – rigorous algorithmic outputs of higher intelligent life forms, also known as humans. Here is a report of one of the most complex circles discovered recently in the British countryside.
Before we disembark it should be remembered that earth itself is a gigantic canvas for the algorithmic patterning processes caused by climatic systems, weathering, geological erosion, and other metamorphic programs that have been running for millions of years. More recently, humans arrived and brought along agricultural processes that have created unintentional procedural earthworks, take for example the sinuous steps created by terracing in paddy fields in much of Asia. Dataisnature favourite, Mati Klawein, produced a set of landscape paintings celebrating repetition found this kind landscape. If you’re interested in the aesthetics of farming formations, Your Next and Soundscape are certainly worthy of your time.