Creative Space: Where Visual Art and Writing Intersect

“Want to go on an adventure?” my girlfriend texted me during class. “Ok…” I replied.

We drove down to the intersection of La Mirada and Leffingwell. Traffic on Leffingwell was horrendous. We parked and started walking down Leffingwell. “This is going to rock your world,” she said. She had also worked up other various puns off of the idea of a giant boulder in the car on the way, playing songs such as “We Will Rock You” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”

A giant red truck was parked in the middle of Leffingwell, and traffic was being herded into one lane on either side of it. Advertisements were plastered onto the red edifice. And in the middle of it, suspended a few feet above the pavement, was a giant 5-ton rock wrapped in white plastic.

This was the rock needed for an art installation piece at the LACMA called “Levitated Mass,” wherein a giant rock will be placed over a 15-foot deep passageway. People will walk under the rock, look up, and the rock will appear to be floating. The project has been in the works for years. The logistics involved in transporting the boulder from a quarry in Riverside–involving designing and creating a custom truck–alone had taken over a year.

The rock only traveled at night, at 5-10 miles per hour. It had to take specific paths that could handle its weight, and telephone poles, street signs and traffic lights had to be taken down by work crews from the city in order to usher the massive caravan through. Prior to arriving in each city, the crew had to gain approval to park it somewhere during the day while not traveling. One of those places was in the middle of Leffingwell in La Mirada.

It is the biggest rock that has been transported since the time of the Egyptian pyramids.

I am in a writing class where we focus on the intersection of the visual arts and the written word. What is common to all forms of art is that they create space–setting parameters, defining content, including and omitting things appropriate to the balance of the space at hand, a balance of absence and presence, sound and silence. The visual arts operate under a metaphor of ‘sight’ for how space is created; language arts operate under metaphors of ‘sound’ to create space; and yet the divisions are often blurry.

The product is not the only space created; the very process of creating moves things around, makes space for the materials, and requires sacrifices on the part of the artist and the people within his vicinity. In the case of the “Levitated Mass” project, the space created in the process, although temporary, is perhaps more important. The children, parents and rubber-neckers who gawked at the massive truck may have much more profound memories than those who get to enjoy the finished product at the LACMA. The transportation of the materials created a literal space in the city-scapes of thousands of residents in the Los Angeles area. It was an all-inclusive space, activating all of the senses, something that no artist can presume to do.

As you create your visual and written spaces to be included in the Inkslinger, remember that the true value of art may be not be within the finished product, but may exist more importantly in the process by which you achieved that product.

-Rob Kirkendall, editor

Articles on Michael Heizer’s project, “Levitated Mass”:


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