February 3, 2004

East of Fallon

by Michael Mateas · , 12:59 pm

In December, while visiting family in Nevada, I went to the Nevada Art Museum in Reno. My favorite piece was East of Fallon, Highway 50, Nevada by Joseph DeLappe, a new media artist at University of Nevada, Reno.

On entering a darkened room, you see what looks like a standard single-channel video installation, in this case endlessly looping video footage (presumably shot through the windshield) of a night drive through the desert on Highway 50. I watched the night drive for a few minutes before noticing the large wooden wheel turning in the corner of the room. Running along the inside of the wheel is a model roadbed complete with scrubby desert bushes along the side. At the bottom of the wheel, suspended just above the roadbed, is a light shining down on the turning road and a camera looking along the road. This, of course, is the source of the night drive footage. The road, including the non-descript desert landscape on the side of the road, is a scale model of a specific segment of Highway 50 that lies east of Fallon.

As a kid I always loved machines, especially if they did unusual or unexpected things. I’m fascinated by the sense of elaborate machinic contraptions that recreate or capture some part of the world. East of Fallon invokes in me the same sense of aesthetic and technical interest (and frankly, wonder), that I experienced in Musée Mécanique or that I experience when designing and working with large AI architectures.