Wendover Report
From the Center’s Complex on the Edge of the Salt Flats


403 Now on view at CLUI Exhibit Hall 1 is an exhibit by Wendover Resident John Brinton Hogan. CLUI photoWendover Residence Program

THE 2006 SEASON WAS ANOTHER busy one at the CLUI Wendover Complex, with over 100 participants staying and working out of the Center’s exhibit, production, and support facilities. New Residents this season included: Uta Kogelsburger, Lisa Blatt, Nicole Jean Hill, Brian Conley, Martin Hogue, Katherine Bash, Oscar Tuazon, David Clayton and Stephanie Koenig. Others who returned to work on new or ongoing projects include Bill Wiley, Simparch, Deborah Stratman, Rob Ray, John Brinton Hogan, Lucy Raven, Achim Mohne, Bill Fox, Mark Klett, and Richard Saxton. Eteam made another visit, passing through the airfield with a chartered flight from New York to Wendover, on their way to the nascent, grass roots “International Airport” in Montello, at the next town west of Wendover. The Land Arts and the American West class stopped by for around a week in September, and helped with fencing in a larger yard, in addition to doing their site-based work around the area.

404 The new CLUI viewing tower joins the family of towers in the area, which include Deborah Stratman’s radio sampling tower, the original WWII airport tower, and the prop tower left over from filming Conair, at Southbase. CLUI photo

The Viewing Tower

The annual work party, held in July, was a great success, culminating in the erection of an old target scoring tower at the CLUI residence and workshop, which provides views of the region. “In such a flat place, 40 feet in elevation makes a big difference,” said Matthew Coolidge, Wendover Operations Manager, “As you ascend the tower the landscape changes from a line to a plane.”

The tower was originally an observation tower for the military training ranges on the north side of the highway. It was moved to the Kaiser Potash works in the 1950’s, to watch operations in the spread out evaporation ponds south of the highway. By the 1970’s its use diminished to simply supporting a TV antenna for the potash bunkhouse, which is no longer in use by the plant. It was donated to the CLUI by the owner of the potash plant, and finally moved to its new location this summer.

The tower installing expertise of Deborah Stratman, and the cement pouring experience of John Brinton Hogan were instrumental in getting this to happen. Thanks too to the Mayor of Wendover, Don Shelton, of Shelton Redimix, who poured more than seven yards of concrete for the new foundation, and to Greg Foy and Mike Spellman of Intrepid Potash for their support.

405 Municipal Workshop’s GPS touring bike gets a disorientation on the Bonneville flats. CLUI photo

Salt Flat GPS Expo

The GPS Expo 2006 was held on the Bonneville Salt Flats this summer, and an interesting cluster of people showed up. It started with an anonymous posting on a yahoo group, listing a time and a place. The time, Saturday July 29th, was right at the peak of summer on the flats. The place was simply listed as geographical coordinates. “40 degrees 47.701 min N, 113 degrees 48.737 min W.” The posting went on to say, “An informal unmediated gathering of guided meandering research and development using GPS, location awareness, and saltboards.”

It seemed like a good thing, so a number of people from Wendover went out to the flats, to engage in the GPS events. The site turned out to be pretty far out there, about a third of the way to Floating Island, in an area beyond the apex of the rest stop berm. The flats were a bit damp, caking the vehicles in salt, but hard enough to travel on, by any means. Actually perfect conditions for salt skiing, a sport that is pretty much unsafe at any speed. Just ask Rich Pell of the Institute for Applied Autonomy, who broke all previous nonexistent speed records. He also brought out the Autotour, the GPS-powered touring vehicle that normally lives in the garage at the CLUI Unit, and is designed for providing guided tours of the airbase. The car was definitely beyond its accustomed terrain on the flats, but it performed well, outfitted with a GPS triggered sampling contraption and loudspeaker by Jesse Stiles, an audioperformance artist from New York (and former South Base cosmonaut), who happened to be in the neighborhood. Stiles veered and dopplered the sounds while careening around the expanse.

Goings on in the nearby distance ranged from the curious to the absurd. Debby and Larry Kline, artists from Southern California, had established a 40 acre square, marked with a line on the ground, which they claimed as theirs by way of an uncontested landgrab. They came prepared with a flag for the new territory, and defended it with a skeletal M1 Tank, which rolled around on the chassis of an electric wheelchair. The BLM official who manages the federally-owned flats was seen approaching them for a discussion. What sort of bargain was struck remains unknown, but he left without drawing his sidearm. He probably had other things on his mind, such as enforcing the one mile exclusionary arc around the Pirates of the Caribbean III set, shimmering in the distance.

Paula Poole and Brett Stalbaum, former CLUI Wendover Program participants were also in the region, working on a GPS project that involved walking to the center of each of 36 square kilometers on the flats in a 6 by 6 grid, and taking samples, which were then mixed into tiles, and placed on view in a CLUI exhibit space with additional material.

Other activities observed around these coordinates included a public survey station set by Mary Anderson, up at the Bonneville Salt Flats rest stop on the interstate, and video projects being worked on by Christina McPhee, Huong Ly and Sarah McClelland.