WHAT’S IMPORTANT ABOUT ART MIGHT NOT BE CONNECTED DIRECTLY TO ART ITSELF, BUT MAY LIE WITHIN THE PERIPHERY OF VISUAL EXPERIENCE - Gregory Battcock, The Wings of Man, 1977
Green River, Utah is a locus for looking. People come to Green River for the view. This precedent was set in the 19th century by John Wesley Powell - Green River’s first visual tourist - when he came to explore and map the Green River. Both the landscapes inside and outside of town are “good looking”. There is a combination of desert emptiness, sheer natural contrasts and nostalgic western decay. The aesthetics of Green River are its most immediate draw. Does this mean that Green River is specially suited for the acts of viewing and looking?
Is Green River a Cathedral of Viewing?
A Cathedral of Viewing is a space whose specific context is directly oriented towards the act of viewing. Imagine a small, free-standing room with windows and a doorway. It is possible to look into the room from outside through the windows or the doorway. Objects or symbols on the walls or the physical context of the room attract one’s gaze directly toward the room and its interior. Once inside the room, a visitor is ideally situated to experience the visual qualities of the room or its contents. At the same time, the shape of the room and the location of its windows and doorway reorient a visitor’s gaze toward the space outside of the room. Outside the room the visitor is compelled to view the room, while inside the room the visitor is compelled to view what is outside. The room becomes both a tool and a monument.
As a Frontier Fellow I will be using this hypothetical room as a reference in my exploration of Green River. By expanding the word “room” to mean space, I propose to seek out, identify and activate the individual Cathedrals of Viewing (CsOV) in Green River. By engaging with these places and objects, I hope to illustrate that Green River is itself a giant Cathedral of Viewing, a special place, a place for art and art making.