Report From The Great Basin
CLUI Wendover Interpretive R&D Continues

615 The Auto Tour is a Ford Crown Victoria outfitted with a new dashboard and touchscreen that guides visitors around the area at Wendover. CLUI photo

THE CLUI COMPLEX IN WENDOVER Utah, on the edge of the salt flats, is up and running for another season, with many projects taking place through November. Several new visitors will be out this year or have been already, including sculptors and photographers participating in the Wendover Residence Program, which benefited from another round of generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Some former residents, such as Deborah Stratman, eTeam, Simparch, and Achim Mohne, are returning to expand on the projects they started in previous seasons. “Wendover is such a continuously compelling place that the Center is committed to staying here forever,” said CLUI Program Manager Sarah Simons.

616 Neither “smart” nor a “bike,” the four-wheeled, six-passenger “smartbike” in the shop at CLUI Wendover. CLUI photo“Smart” Car and Bike Provide Interpretive Partner for Exploration

Richard Pell and Igor Vamos were out again to make some updates and adjustments to the automated tour vehicle they designed over the past few years. The vehicle is a standard American sedan that has been altered to accommodate a touchscreen computer in its dashboard that provides an interactive program about the Wendover Airbase community. A map on the screen indicates the vehicle's location as the car is driven around the airbase, and a collection of dots on the map mark selected points of interest. As the car approaches one of these dots, the name of the site is announced, followed by a narrated description of the site, as well as images and, in many cases, video commentary by the site’s owner or representative. “Its kind of like the car is a mouse and the land is a mousepad,” said Richard Pell, the programmer for the car, who is a principal in the Institute for Applied Autonomy and an art teacher at the University of Michigan. “You drive around eating dots like an interpretive pacman.” The car, housed in a garage built for it at the CLUI Residence Unit, is available for guests to check out by appointment. Users leave their drivers license as collateral.

At the same time the car was being updated this Spring, a team from Municipal Workshop, an itinerent creative group led by Richard Saxton, was in residence for a month working on a pedaled platform for the auto-tour. They modified a four wheeled touring “bicycle,” putting on a roof, cooler, and a power supply, and outfitting it with a computer, screen, GPS device and speaker for the auto tour system. The team also built a movable garage, so that the bike could be deployed to other locations in the future. The garage, an elegant modernist structure built out of pallets and other bulk material, resembles an ATV trailer, with a ramp that allows the bike to roll out the door. It also has a solar panel on the roof that charges the tourbike’s interpretive system between uses. While a few more technical issues are being worked out, the bike should be available for visitors to use in the near future. These two projects, along with many other creative uses of GPS, will be featured at a GPS expo event, to be held on the Bonneville Salt Flats in a year or so.

617 The Target Museum at Southbase, in Wendover. CLUI photo by Steve RowellTarget Museum Loans Work to Display in Tate Modern, London

Though the Center has just started to develop some of the exhibits around Wendover into the national American Land Museum Complex, one site, the Target Museum, being readied at a large wooden building at Southbase, has already had a provisional showing to a few visitors. This initial exhibit looks at the paper shooting targets generally used by police and other professional gun handlers in training situations at shooting ranges, as well as live fire “hot houses” and other scenario environments. Some of the paper practice targets were removed from the display at Southbase and loaned to the Tate Modern museum in London, part of an exhibit prepared by the design/build team Simparch that has worked on a number of projects in association with the Center. The Target Museum will eventually have more displays about targets in the USA, from paper targets used in shooting ranges to ground based bulls-eye bombing targets.

618 “Land Arts and the American West” students watch a presentation outside at the CLUI Residence Support Unit screening area. CLUI photo Students at Wendover

In addition to people involved in CLUI projects at Wendover, the participants in the Wendover Residence Program, and the visitors passing through, students visit Wendover as part of field programs based at colleges and universities around the country. This year the Land Arts and the American West course, based out of the University of Texas and the University of New Mexico, will again make a stop at Wendover for a few days. This unusual field class spends most of a semester traveling around the west, meeting with land artists, writers, and others whose work is the landscape. The group visits Marfa, Roden Crater, Lightning Field, the Very Large Array, Chaco Canyon, and other art and landscape sites from Utah to Texas.

Last fall, a group of graduate students in the Curatorial Practice Program at the California College of the Arts spent a week in the Wendover area, led by Matthew Coolidge of the CLUI. The group visited dozens of sites in the region, including the Bingham Pit, the American Magnesium Corporation, and Dugway Proving Ground, creating a collection of experiences and impressions about places that was developed into presentations over the rest of semester. The class, called “Nowhere” is intended to show how to make something out of “nothing” and how “nothing” doesn't really exist anyways.

619 Members of a curatorial practice program class from the California College of the Arts consider the beauty and potential implications presented by the abstract geometry of a satellite image depicting the 40,000 acres of salt ponds operated by the American Magnesium Corporation east of Wendover. CLUI photo

620 Former prop plane prop now a theater about Wendover as a film location. CLUI photo Jailbird Prop Plane Turned into Theater

A flightless prop plane, left at the Wendover Airport after the filming of Conair in 1996 was turned into a theater showing clips of films shot in Wendover. The reel of ten or so Hollywood movies that have been filmed here, including the ‘70s helicopter chase movie Birds of Prey, the lofty ‘80s sailing movie Wind, and the ‘90s alien attack extravaganza Independence Day, was edited by members of the CLUI, and is shown on a monitor in the plane during special events, such as the annual airshow (lack of electricity in the plane, located out of the way on the edge of the flightline most of the time prevents the theater from being a continuous attraction). Of course a clip from Conair itself is featured in the program. “The sensation of watching a scene in the same space where the scene was shot is conceptually satisfying, and reaffirms the proximal relationship between filmspace and ‘real’ space,” said Igor Vamos, a media arts professor and CLUI Wendover program manager.

621 The photographic work of Wayne Barrar is on view in Exhibit Hall 2. CLUI photo Residents Work on Display

The work of CLUI Wendover Residence Program Participants is visible at several locations around the CLUI complex in Wendover, both indoors and out. In Exhibit Hall One, the recommended first stop for visitors, is a display by Paula Poole and Brett Stalbaum that explores issues of place and displacement at the Center's Remote Location, a landscape site 40 miles north of Wendover. In Exhibit Hall Two, the photographs of Wayne Barrar are on display. All display areas are open to the public and free of charge.