rivers and tides
Today I watched Rivers and Tides, a film about Andy Goldsworthy. I’ve been putting off watching it for several years now, but when I saw it was on instant watch on Netflix I finally went for it. Goldsworthy is one of my favorite artists. I became aware of his work in college, right around the time I was beginning to consider pursuing art rather than science. He works in nature with nature and his works are ultimately about nature as well. Using water, rock, plant matter, and dirt, he creates site specific pieces that, at best, expose the inner working of nature. The works really explore the limits of the materials that make up the site and then reconstitute them into an artwork. He’ll take something simple, like how rocks or leaves vary and in color and transform it into something spectacular and surprising by carefully reordering them into a perfect spectrum. His pieces often fall into several categories: a rock balancing project, a spectrum piece, pieces that form perfect circles or twisting lines. The movie is intriguing because you get to know not only the work but also the man and his obsessions.
I find his ephemeral projects the most satisfying. For instance, Goldsworthy makes a chain of leaves held together with thorns. He then places it in the stream and watches it. As the chain flows down the river, it threads itself through rocks and riffles, when it moves through a pool it begins to spirals; ultimately it becomes a visible line we can read, a register for the forces in the water. In another project, he collects red rocks from the bottom of the stream and grinds them up into a fine powder. Placing the powder in the small neighboring pockets of stone creates shocking blood-red pools. A simple action, yet he draws many parallels between rock and life, the cycle of stone from sediment to rock and back. He exposes what was there but unseen.
Overall the film is slow paced but with excellent visuals and music by Fred Frith it’s a pleasure to watch. Here are a few screen captures I grabbed of the film.