Futility Structure on the edges of a Bombing Range in Utah, 2009.

F-Utility in Utah; Experimental Structure

Between 2008-10, Office of Experiments undertook research at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s [CLUI] Wendover Research centre in Utah. The F-Utility Unit – or Field Utility Unit was originally developed as a marker and platform for viewing beyond the divisible – (see Minus Twelve by Robert Smithson). The impossibility of describing the deep temporal qualities within such incredible landscapes back in the context of the art space, links to Office of Experiments concerns with time as articulated by Smithson and CLUI in the USA, and in the conceptual work of artist such as John Latham in the UK.

F-Utility, being modular, was reconfigured over subsequent visits in order to explore in depth one of the remotest areas of the USA. As such it provided the geometry and structural ground for a range of fieldwork activities. This included Min-a Max project, erected at CLUI Wendover Test and Research Facilty on the edge of Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah in 2009. This project addressed the aesthetics of protest, a common theme of a form of gestural political art. It is situated on the edges of the largest bombing range in the USA at an isolated and inaccessible location, displaying algorithms used nominally in war-games and gaming as slogans which are machine readable by military drones that were being tested in the area.

Finally in 2010, F-Utility toured to Spiral Jetty, and was reconfigured both there and back in the UK at Chelsea Space in a project that further extended Smithson concerns with the non-site – more details over. 

Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Fieldwork from the Museum of the Void.

An Exhibition at Chelsea Space, London 2010

In 2010, an exhibition by Neal White further explored the legacy of Robert Smithson in relation to the region where Center for Land Use Interpretation Wendover Station is located. Using F-Utility to link two sites (site / non-site) the exhibition not only explored the location of Spiral Jetty, but the impact of mineral extraction for organic crop fertilisers mainly in California. The impact being the draining of the pink waters that had once submerged this canonical work.  A film shot in location at Spiral Jetty utilised the F-Utility Unit as a framing device and platform for articulating the emerging relationship between entropy, deep time and contemporary ecological politics – the Anthropocene.

The exhibition also included a GPS drawing/video filmed at the original proposed site for Spiral Jetty which was still owned by Nancy Holt. Having permission to film, Going Nowhere is the recording of a cycling figure (Randy) performing a repetitive spiral ride in the heat of the desert. Randy has featured in a series of projects by Office of Experiments – Randy is a cypher and has performed individually and simultaneously by multiple people.

Further works exhibited included ‘Towards the Divisble’ – a  video of Spiral Jetty, moving forward and in reverse at varying speeds, and filmed through spectacles of the late British artist John Latham. 

The Fieldwork report featured in the Catalogue for ‘Voids’ at Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Office of Experiments
Office of Experiments; Project and fieldwork led by Neal White. Logistical support Tina O’Connell. Performance by Randy (the in-credible)