Visiting Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field is like going to an event. You might know the framework, but you can’t predict the exact experience. So after some fortunate advance planning (I read about visitors waiting 10+ years for schedules to align) and a journey into Western New Mexico, I stand with my main art friend and four other overnight visitors in an isolated cabin next to a grid of 400 polished stainless steel poles. A simple framework.
We congregate on the back porch of the cabin. Clear skies, no lightning expected. In the washed-out afternoon light the poles blend into the high desert landscape. Wind comes and goes, loud then silent. Rabbits scurry from beneath the cabin, a few cows stroll in the distance. Without connectivity to the outside world, time seems to slow. Walking the field brings the scope and scale to life. One mile by one kilometer, 220 feet between poles. It seems we’ve seen it. Time to chat.
But the field is not done…at the golden hour the light changes and the poles catch the sunset. The sharp polished tips begin to glow white. Silver torches. Then poles fully illuminate. Bright gold and deep orange tubes. The field becomes Flavin. Sunset fades, the air cools, and we gather back at the cabin. Did you see that!?!
Click here for Part 2.
Tagged: Context, Design, Dia, Land Art, New Mexico, Timing, Walter De Maria