Casting a Glance is a tribute to the American artist Robert Smithson. Between May 15, 2005 and January 14, 2007 I made 16 trips to the Spiral Jetty. Created in 1970, the Jetty is a 1,500-foot long spiral-shaped jetty extending into the Great Salt Lake in Utah constructed from rocks, earth, salt and red algae. The resulting film maps the Jetty back onto its own 37 year history – looking at and listening to its reoccurring changes. I found the Jetty a barometer for a variety of cycles. From morning to night its allusive, shifting appearance (radical or subtle) may be the result of a passing weather system or simply the changing angle of the sun. Seasonal shifts and water level changes alter salt crystal growth, the amount of algae in the water, and the presence of wildlife. The water may appear blue, red, purple, brown, or gold. Sounds may come from a navy jet, wildlife, lapping or splashing water, a visitor’s car radio, converging thunderstorms, or be a silence so still you can hear the blood moving through the veins in your ears. —James Benning
James Benning’s early films fused the “structuralist” investigations into sound-image relationships of filmmakers like Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton with an interest in narrative and a deep sensitivity to color, light, and landscape. He first grabbed the attention of the avant-garde film world with 8 1/2 × 11 and 11 × 14. Filmed in vivid color in the rural and urban landscapes of his native Midwest, these two films would provide the kernel for his further investigations into film form.
His films’ rigorous structures — often based on numerical systems — and exquisitely composed shots reflect his training as a mathematician, and their frequently autobiographical subject matter draws upon his working-class roots (a rare subject for avant-garde film) and his longtime commitment to political activism.
While his earliest films are mostly concerned with form and narrative, his work in the ‘80s began to introduce both personal subject matter and documentary elements, at the… read more
A wonderful illustration of "vertical" time in cinema, that time doesn't necessarily need to feel that it is moved forward by narrative. Seasons and the landscape change, but the work endures. And far from analytical and academic, it still feels personal and moves towards a very moving coda. It's a great tribute from one major artist to another.