Continuing on the summer road trip (Hey, it’s now really cold out and I’m willing to spend time with my technology instead of being outside!)…
Our stop at Power Switch (visible in the center of the photo) outside Daniel, WY, was a highlight of the road trip for me and Michaela. Power Switch is land art created by three members of the Pipeline Art Project, Sue Sommers, David Klarén, and JB Bond, to encourage dialogue about energy use in the wake of the removal of Carbon Sink from the University of Wyoming campus in 2012. Both pieces fit within Michaela’s research and she wrote a post for the Center for Art + Environment about Power Switch, following up her previous posts for CA+E on Carbon Sink. (Read all posts on the CA+E site.)
Because of the smoke from the wildfires in the Northwest, the view that gives art historical context to Power Switch was hazy, and the sunlight was diffused on the late summer day making it quite chilly, but our visit to the site and discussion with Sue was not diminished at all. Basking in the intellectual stimulation, I mostly listened to Michaela and Sue discuss the piece. Before leaving, I requested permission from Sue to install objects on Power Switch (images to come later) and appreciate being able to incorporate my ephemeral installation that left little trace of its presence on land art that is visible via Google Earth.
Since our visit, Sue, David and JB participated on a panel discussion with noted art writer Lucy Lippard at UW. Because I don’t take a side in my own environmental installations, I found it to be fascinating how difficult it was for audience participants (mostly artists, art professors and students) to accept the premise that Power Switch was created to encourage dialogue amongst people of differing opinions and not to take a pro or con stance on energy use. Is encouraging dialog not an accepted purpose? Must art take an activist stance for one extreme or the other?
Photo courtesy of Sue Sommers