William Lamson: A Line Describing the Sun, Pierogi Boiler, Brooklyn, NY

Will Lamson, A Line Describing the Sun (video still), 2010

September 10 – October 10, 2010

A Line Describing the Sun features a new two-channel video and sculpture created in the Mojave Desert earlier this year. Begun at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s artist-in-residence program in Wendover, Utah, Lamson finished the project in a dry lakebed west of Barstow, California. The video and sculpture are both a record of two day-long performances in which the artist follows the sun with a large Fresnel lens mounted on a rolling apparatus. The lens focuses the sun into a 1,600-degree point of light that melts the dry mud, transforming it into a black glassy substance. Over the course of a day, as the sun moves across the sky, a hemispherical arc is imprinted into the lakebed floor.

The original performance documented in the video produced a 366-foot arc. The sculpture on view in the gallery is a 23-foot scale model of this mark, created using the same apparatus over the same amount of time, only traveling at a slower pace. Lamson excavated the mark by pouring water over it, softening the dry mud on either side of the line and eventually causing the insoluble glass to separate from its muddy surrounding. Over the course of the excavation, the single continuous line broke into hundreds of pieces. Its reconstruction in the gallery simultaneously evokes the geologic record and an archeological relic.

While Lamson’s video works have often found him playfully and strenuously interacting with his environment (both in the natural world and in his studio), this new work brings to bear the forces of nature in the act of drawing and mark-making. In this way, it continues the investigations he began with Automatic, a project in which he used wind and ocean currents to power a series of drawing machines. A Line Describing the Sun is part performance, part video work, part earthwork, and part drawing exercise.