Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 113: Deep time

the ancient Joshua Tree (it's actually not a tree, but a yucca)

"Geological- hence metaphysical- monumentality, by contrast with the physical altitude of ordinary landscapes. Upturned relief patterns, sculpted out by wind, water, and ice, dragging you down into the whirlpool of time, into the remorselessness eternity of a slow-motion catastrophe. The very idea of the millions and hundreds of millions of years that were needed peacefully to ravage the surface of the earth here is a perverse one, since it brings with it an awareness of signs originating, long before man appeared, in a sort of pact of wear and erosion stuck between elements. Among this gigantic heap of signs- purely geological in essence- man will have had no significance..." -Baudrillard, America

Geological time is definitely a reoccurring theme lately. Today we ventured down a dirt road within Joshua Tree National Park and did a self-guided "geology tour" of the park. The oldest rocks in the park date to 1.7 billion years. Humans have only been in the area for 5,000 years. Apparently, now Joshua Tree National Park is within a 3 hour drive for 18 million people. No trace of them on our tour today, just silence, sun, rocks, yucca and wind.

"The desert is a natural extension of the inner silence of the body. If humanity's language, technology, and buildings are an extension of its constructive faculties, the desert alone is an extension of its capacity for absence, the ideal schema of humanity's disapearance. When you come out of the Mojave, writes Banham, it is difficult to focus less than fifteen miles ahead of you. You eye can no longer rest on objects that are near. It can no longer properly settle on things, and all the human or natural constructions that intercept your gaze seem irksome obstacles which merely corrupt the perfect reach of your vision. When you emerge from the desert, you eyes go on trying to create emptiness all around; in every inhabited area, every landscape they see desert beneath, like a watermark." -Baudrillard, America

Artists (primarily from L.A.) have been finding their way here for awhile. In that spirit, today we also navigated our way through the desert to Noah Purifoy's project for the High Desert Test Sites.

Joshua Tree isn't just a remote art colony and national park, it's also neighbor to 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combate Center. It seems apparent at this point that we can't escape the military industrial complex no matter how hard we try. They are simply everywhere. The mojave is their playground. Other bases nearby include the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range and The National Training Center at Fort Irwin (You might have seen Full Battle Rattle about the faux Baghdad they have at Fort Irwin at the Film Forum recently.

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