In reading about Walter De Maria's Lightning Field, installed in a remote desert area of southwestern New Mexico in 1977, I know that I would enjoy this work and that I could happily spend a lifetime traveling around to view this type of land art.
The Lightning Field comprises 400 polished, stainless-steel poles that are about 20 feet, 7 inches high, pointed at the top, and spaced 220 feet apart in a grid measuring one mile by one kilometer. Although the area's frequent lightning strikes can create a stunning display, lightning is not required to make the poles worth seeing. Apparently the effect of the sunset and sunrise and the changing colors of the light --pink and orange--moving up and down the poles is quite magical. The artist intended the work to be viewed over time, between the hours of sunset and sunrise. For that reason, visitors to the field must stay in a cabin on the property overnight.
Alas, the terms for seeing the Lightning Field are pretty strict. You must make a reservation and agree to be picked up in a small town in New Mexico named Quemado, which is more than two and a half hours from Albuquerque. From there you are driven to the remote cabin 45 minutes away, where a couple of meals have been left for you in the fridge. What happens if you have an emergency while out at the cabin is unclear. You are picked up at noon the next day.
Photography of the place is prohibited, and I have mixed feelings about that. I understand that it is a work of art, and is copyrighted. But at least with paintings in a museum, you can see a reproduction to get a hint of the experience of seeing the real thing. It seems to me that by the same token, some reproduction of the experience ought to be allowed. There are slides available for purchase, and perhaps that is a reasonable solution. But how many people these days have a slide projector? Does a photograph really infringe on the copyright, when it is the actual experience of being there and seeing it in three dimensions that is the true artwork? I'm not sure what the answer is, but the Lightning Field's restrictions make it difficult to share the beauty of the place. The only photograph on the official website is the one above.
I found a blog on the internet where someone posted photos from their trip there. Obviously they violated copyright, and maybe I shouldn't encourage you to take a look. But their photos of the Lightning Field at dusk --with the sun hitting the poles ---are very pretty and cool.
Below is the link.