Excerpt from:


The Whistle

Natural and Artificial Intruders in Contemporary Artistic Research

Marco Antonini


Occulto, 2011, p130


      A similar approach is used by New Mexico-based Bill Dolson. In his work the rural landscape of the American West is seen less as an inviolate wilderness and more as an arena of active involvement. Dolson's eclectic background includes a stint as rancher, a pragmatic experience that has probably influenced his entire approach to Land Art. In his projects, Dolson boasts a fast-forward, modernist attitude that sees little or no difference between humanity and nature. I remember receiving this image from him, in an email thread which probably featured snippets of our ongoing discussion of all things Land Art: it was a bean crop, in New Mexico, being systematically burned down to prepare the soil for fertilization. It looked like the most spectacular earthwork to me; nothing but the most mundane of sightings to him. I then realized how deep the disconnection between most of us and the contemporary reality of nature is, and how largely we all depend on preservationist politics to help us sustain a projected image of "Nature" that is in larger part a pacifier for the same yearning shattered by the brutal apparition of Poussin's Et In Arcadia Ego monument. Some of Dolson's most simple and recognizable installations use laser beams as a disruptive agent with both positive and negative connotations. In 4 x 4 Vertical Planar Intersection: Ponderosa Pine (2005), the ghostly presence of a pine tree is illuminated by the collision with an orthogonally arranged battery of laser beams. The frigid linear precision of the beams meets its match in the entropic surface of the tree, dissolving in a myriad of apparently unrelated segments and reflections. This otherworldly image brings to mind the feverish flashes of Darren Aronowsky's 1997 movie π, in which the protagonist obsesses over apparently insignificant natural details, desperately trying to find a universal mathematical formula behind them; the effort (spoiler alert) eventually drives him crazy.




4 x 4 Vertical Planar Intersection: Ponderosa Pine (2005)