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Next Punchline 30 Miles, HDTS 2013


I showed my piece Next Punchline 30 Miles at High Desert Test Sites 2013. It consists of a joke told across two billboards, spaced 5 miles apart on a desert road outside of Joshua Tree, CA.

With this piece I was trying to create a bit of absurdity in the midst of a limitless, expansive landscape, mostly for a passing audience – passengers captive in the ennui of a long road trip. The drive from setup sign to payoff sign provides a brief moment of anticipation, some respite from the monotony of the drive, only to return you to a dull, unchanging landscape after a stinker of a punchline.

This project stems from my ongoing documentation of signage in Los Angeles (see http://signages.tumblr.com/), and is also an homage to the touching hand made signs that advertise roadside attraction and distractions across the USA. I am interested in using signs as a way to incorporate text and humor into both urban and rural landscapes. After spending more time working in an art studio doing light construction, I was also interested in planning and constructing a large-scale sculpture from wood. Since I built the signs while on residency in Green River, UT, I also got to deal with the logistics of building and then transporting them 600+ miles, which was fun for the project manager guy in me.


I was really impressed with HDTS as an event. The practicalities of camping and having to drive quite far, at times, to see the pieces scattered around Joshua Tree and surrounding towns, meant that even if you tried really hard, you could see maybe 3, 4 pieces in a day. The ratio was about 80% driving/walking and looking at the landscape, and 20% looking at art and socializing. Spending that much time considering the natural landscape each day, in relation to art/human creations, lent power to both – providing a real understanding of the art in the context of the land, and encouraging a more careful, artful observation of the land itself. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go on the rest of the HDTS road trip to Albuquerque, but I think that art-exhibit-as-road-trip is a really fascinating format, and would add the element of time and scale, plus the bond of fellow travellers to the art/landscape relationship that I really felt just from the weekend I spent in and around Joshua Tree.

See my original proposal (and some inspiration) here. Also, Ryann, who helped construct and install the piece, wrote about it here.


Art,Main @ 12:53 pm December 5, 2013