notes for discussion
Anti- vs. Non-commercialization / Or, Post-market
"By adopting an aesthetics of 'information', these [assemblage, fluxus, etc] artists left themselves with little to sell, and this self-conscious refusal of the art market signified a more thoroughgoing resistance to the commercialization of public life." ... "Does an artwork composed of streams of information consist of ephemeral acts of communication or the physical residue of such acts?" (Joselit 140)
The Spiral Jetty is non-functional and unable to be commercialized, similar to work by artists discussed in Chapter 5 of Joselit's text. But with Smithson, and the other land artists, the work is fighting commercialization, but seems to be more of an understood theme. Many Fluxus et al. works were anti-commercialization, while the land artist's art is non- or perhaps post- commercialized; simply not falling into a commercial sphere.
Geological History, Spirituality
"'Site' is not a timeless or unchanging landscape but is rather a locus of competing representations - it is information 'in-formation'" (Joselit 144-145)
Smithson repeatedly associates modern industry, technology, and machine, into the context of the earth's geological and biological history -
"The movie editor bending over such a chaos of "takes" resembles a paleontologist sorting out glimpses of a world not yet together, a land that has yet to come to completion, a span of time unfinished, a spaceless limbo on some spiral reels. [...] One is transported by the Archeozoic medium into the earliest known geological eras. The movieola becomes a "time machine" that transforms trucks into dinosaurs." (Smithson 11)
"I needed a map that would show the prehistoric world as coextensive with the world I existed in" (Smithson 11)
He speaks of the formation of the jetty as part of the spiral of the history of the landscape (directly or metaphorically?); he breaks down any distinction, or, any importance of distinction, between the past and the present.
Smithson speaking of the jetty as an "art object":
"Here is a reinforcement and prolongation of spirals that reverberates up and down space and time. So it is that one ceases to consider art in terms of an 'object'. The fluctuating resonances reject 'objective criticism'', because that would stifle the generative power of both visual and auditory scale. Not to say that one resorts to "subjective concepts", but rather that one apprehends what is around one's eyes and ears, no matter how unstable or fugitive."- (Smithson 9)
"To be in the scale of the Spiral Jetty is to be out of it." (Smithson 9)
One of Smithson's original inspirations was the red water. He writes extensively of visceral experiences at the site, beginning with a description of the landscape on his journey to the water; how he is lost in the colors and light and physical experience.
"Chemically speaking, our blood is analogous in composition to the primordial seas. Following the spiral steps we return to our origins, back to some pulpy protoplasm, a floating eye adrift in an antediluvian ocean. On the slopes of Rozel Point I closed my eyes, and the sun burned crimson through the lids. My sight was saturated by the color of red algae circulating in the heart of the lake, pumping into ruby currents..." (Smithson 9)
He is making a strong connection, again, between his personal physical experience and the history of the site. A strong metaphor: blood = primordial seas; literarily - consider his perspective, combining these two sentences as a train of thought.
After describing the water, the mud, the salt flats, etc:
"This site was a rotary that enclosed itself in an immense roundness. From that gyrating space merged the possibility of the Spiral Jetty. No ideas, no concepts, no systems, no structures, no abstractions could hold themselves together in the actuality of that evidence. My dialectics of site and nonsite whirled into an indeterminate state, where solid and liquid lost themselves in each other. [...] No sense wondering about classifications and categories, there were none." (Smithson 8)
The visual and visceral aspects of the site obliterate any method (or perhaps need or want) of intellectual comprehension = spirituality / transcendence
The reason, we feel, that he chose the form of a spiral jetty is because it would expand his (and our) experience of the site by heightening certain visceral aspects. He gives no direct intellectual reasoning for his choice of this form, rather, it seems he used a sort of spiritual reasoning.
continued "... pumping into ruby currents, no, they were veins and arteries sucking up the obscure sediments. My eyes became combustion chambers churning orbs of blood blazing by the light of the sun. All was enveloped in a flaming chromosphere: I thought of Jackson Pollock's Eyes in the Heat (1946: Peggy Guggenheim Collection). Swirling within the incandescence of solar energy were sprays of blood. My movie would end in sunstroke. Perception was heaving, the stomach turning, I was on a geologic fault that groaned within me. Between the heat lightning and heat exhaustion the spiral curled into vaporization. I had the red heaves, while the sun vomited its corpuscular radiations." (Smithson10)
Joselit, David. American Art Since 1945 London, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2003
further, see Dada Robotnik