The Long Now


One of my favorite presentations at the Design and Film symposium last Saturday was Stuart Kendall‘s talk on the film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. The documentary, directed by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, focuses on Goldsworthy’s site-specific sculptural work.

I was particularly interested in Kendall’s reading of this film, which he says it is not about making, but about modifying things. To Kendall, Goldsworthy’s work challenges an anthropocentric view of the world (as vindicated from Descartes to the multiculturalist agenda), the fetishism of the heroic creator or the question of artistic and environmental appropriateness.  Kendall’s lecture explored the concepts of modification vs. creation, of art – but also design – as disciplines that are part of a historical and material continuum he called long now.

This notion of a natural, physical continuum that contains humans, their actions and their consequences (as opposed to the notion of nature as a human construct) inspired a few questions asked by Kendall in his talk, such as: “What do I want to make today? What trace of my life can I leave here today? What can I do to improve existing matter and its environment?”. This is a fascinating, revolutionary way to look into human, material production. In the end, and as expressed by Goldworthy himself, “I don’t think the Earth needs me at all. But I do need it”.


This post was part of a series published on for Liz Danzico and Khoi Vihn’s segment of the Print Meets the Web course.


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