Robert Smithson
September 21, 2002 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Robert Smithson is probably best known for his 1970 earthwork, Spiral Jetty, a massive piece that juts into the northern arm of Utah's Great Salt Lake. It's been hidden from view for decades by high water levels, but it's recently reappeared, and it's a mess out there.
posted by mr_crash_davis (10 comments total)
great link, thanks. I love Spiral Jetty. I was just out in Utah in January, and I wish it had been visible then, because i'd so love to see it.

as for the debris, i kinda like to think smithson would approve. he was pretty interested with industrial sites and whatnot for quite some time.
posted by fishfucker at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2002

Hikmet Loe, a Salt Lake City artist who penned her thesis on Smithson's artwork, recently visited the Jetty. She described seeing all the abandoned vehicles as "fun."
"Smithson knew all that stuff was out there when he built it," Loe said. "In many ways, it's part of the art. He was all about entropy and decay."

Can I just say that I love Robert Smithson?
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2002

It's interesting that the lake has receded so much. A few years ago they were talking about pumping overflow into the now-dry "West Pond". Also, notably, the 1960s were an era of record lows for the lake, and inexplicably a period of construction -- much of which was flooded when the lake inevitably returned to higher and higher levels. The Saltair Resort barely escaped complete inundation.
posted by dhartung at 2:04 PM on September 21, 2002

Smithson gets the glory, but my favorite "earthworker" is Michael Heizer. Great story about the jetty today mr._crash.
posted by anathema at 2:07 PM on September 21, 2002

[voice of envious homer] wow. i wish i was all about entropy and decay.
posted by quonsar at 2:44 PM on September 21, 2002

Okay, I'll ask the dumb question: why is the lake red? It isn't always that color.
posted by swerve at 4:04 PM on September 21, 2002

From an article about Owens Lake, but also pertaining to the Great Salt Lake.

"Pink salt lakes and playas, and the bright red evaporation ponds of salt recovery plants along their shores, are among nature's most remarkable biological phenomena, and occur in arid regions throughout the world. The red coloration is caused by astronomical numbers of microscopic, unicellular organisms living in the water and salt crust. How they survive the blistering summer heat and concentrated brine is truly remarkable."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:11 PM on September 21, 2002

Another cool link. Thank you, mr_crash. It's a startling color for a lake and much more red than a "red tide" (though apparently not harmful like a red tide).

The original photos of Spiral Jetty are amazing.
posted by swerve at 4:34 PM on September 21, 2002

I used to live in Salt Lake. The only parts of the lake that are that reddish color are the evaporation ponds. However, from the air you can see beautiful swirling, cloud-like designs as the highly concentrated saltwater flows from the evaporation ponds to the less condensed, blue lake water. It really is beautiful. I've seen the ponds themselves in beautiful shades of red, orange, turquoise, green, baby blue and purple.

However, from the ground, the lake stinks to high heaven. It's definitely meant to be seen from the air, as you're leaving Salt Lake. In fact, that's my opinion for Utah in general.
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:03 PM on September 21, 2002

"However, from the ground, the lake stinks to high heaven."

You'd better believe it. Lake Stink is one of the nastiest naturally-occurring smells I have ever encountered, rivaling even the sulfur-stink of Yellowstone.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:12 PM on September 21, 2002

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