Monsters and Dust

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I took the ants as a sign that I had stayed too long and I left Vegas the next day. After spending some time somewhere between Utah and Arizona I met up with Jane in Flagstaff and convinced her to come to the volcano with me. We drove about an hour down the mountains and into the field of eruptions just north of the city, and found the dirt road that would take us to S.P. Mountain. It wasn’t until recently that I found out what S.P. actually stood for: it was originally called “Shit Pot because of the size of its lava flowxxv, the most recent in this chain of over 600 volcanoes.xxvi

When I turned the car off it was pitch dark and silent and I unpacked the equipment. In Vegas I ran into an old friend who worked at the car audio department of a large electronics store, and I got him to install a power inverter to the Metro’s battery. This made it so I could run electronic equipment in remote places like this, and the main thing I wanted to experiment with was the projector. I chose this site because of the recent flow, but also the road is close enough to the mountain to project onto it from the car.xxvii Not sure what to expect I plugged in the projector and pointed it at the volcano. As I had hoped it was dark enough out there that the light was visible all the way up the slope, a massive blue trapezoid stretching wider as it grew in distance. That night the cinder cone had a luminescence that it hadn’t seen since it blew its shit-pot with lava 71,000 years ago. The projector’s minimal blue standby screen was like a bootleg James Turrell, and when I did some research on the place later on I was surprised to find out that that he had actually scouted this site for his massive land art project at Roden Crater nearby.xxviii

We spent most of the time with the projection looping a short animation on the mountain by Takeshi Murata called Melter 02. I brought this video because at one moment, the amorphous colors develop gravity and the overall shape mimics that of the mountain itself.xxix Jane and I wandered up the mountain through the simulated lava and made it back before the projector killed my car battery, but before we shut it off I let the projector’s blue standby screen run again. At that time I thought S.P. might stand for Self-Portrait, so I made one by projecting my shadow onto the mountain and shooting a long exposure Back to the idea of tuning, this inverted tourist photo was an attempt to tune in to the particular scale of that place, both spatial and temporal.