CLUI Hosts Visiting Austrians
Two Day Tour Highlights Art in the Desert and Tests Clui's FM Transmitter

STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS OF THE University of Linz Department of Experimental Visual Design participated in a two day CLUI led tour of sites in Southern California desert. Each year a class from this highly conceptual art department spends a year in America visiting culturally significant sights and attending lectures by artists, theorists and architects.

1145 Artist Noah Purifoy leads the group on a tour through his scuplture garden. CLUI photo

Day one of the tour featured a visit with artist Noah Purifoy, who led a tour of his outdoor studio/sculpture garden located outside of Twentynine Palms. Purifoy uses objects scavenged and donated to create large mixed-media sculptures. The harsh sun and strong winds of the desert complete the works, adding a weathered patina to the bowling balls, toilets, clothes, scrap metal, and wood that make up Purifoy's palate.

Other sites examined by the group on day one included the Giant Rock at Landers (former residence of an alleged German spy, and later the test pilot/UFO proponent George Van Tassel), where the Californian urbanized desert recreational environment performed well for the guests: dirt bikers buzzed about like bees, and gun shots echoed around the shell casing-littered ground.

Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain, led visitors up the face of his enormous adobe and paint monument at Slab City. Despite the duties of recent notoriety, including hosting an increase in visitors, and the occasional trip to a museum or gallery where his work is featured, Leonard still finds time to work on the mountain (especially at night, under a bright moon) and has recently built a small, enclosed chapel out of adobe and hay bales.

1146 Architect Donald Wexler's prototype steel house. CLUI photo

After a glamorous evening in El Centro and more stops along the Salton Sea, the two-day journey concluded with an architectural tour of Palm Springs, a city that contains a number of interesting modernist buildings that blend into the desert landscape in inspiring and beautiful ways. Richard Neutra's Kaufmann house (designed for the same family that commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water), for example, has been recently restored to museum quality, though it is still a private residence (owned by a grocery store chain executive). It sits next door to an Albert Frey house, built for the industrial designer Raymond Loewy. And across town is a block-long set of steel prototype houses designed by Donald Wexler for U.S. Steel.

The CLUI used the tour to test a new low-power FM radio transmitter to broadcast live tour information, directions, and selections of music to the cars following behind the lead vehicle. The CLUI hopes to use this technology both for tours and for stationary interpretive transmissions, inspired by the AM transmitters operated by municipalities around the country that broadcast traffic, airport conditions, and tourist information.

1144 CLUI vehicle, equipped wtih FM transmitter, leads car caravan. CLUI photo