Each fall High Desert Test Sites invites artists to create experimental projects adjacent to California’s Joshua Tree National Park. This year HDTS invited Ball Nogues Studio to create a structure in a remote region of the Mojave Desert. This presents a unique opportunity to draw upon an unfettered landscape at a grand scale. Expanding on theories developed by earthwork artists Yucca Crater will re-imagine these concepts through new methods of production linked to their cross-disciplinary artistic, architectural, design and fabrication practice.
As an engineered oasis and climbing structure, Yucca Crater will stand 24 feet tall, towering above the desert plane. Positioned along the slopes of its interior shell, rock-climbing holds will make their way into and out of 8 feet of water. Heated with solar power and pumped through a wind powered turbine, the cavernous pool awaits climbers and weary desert travelers. This elevated crater and its aquatic basin are a nod to the abandoned suburban swimming pools scattered across the Mojave. While the piece is decidedly man-made, it recalls the works of the land art movement by using materials at hand to construct the final product. By this, we mean that the massive structural formwork of Yucca Crater is the by-product of another Ball Nogues work: Talus Dome. Situated along the embankment of a freeway in Edmonton, Alberta, Talus Dome is an enormous mound constructed of stainless steel spheres. The elaborate formwork we will use to assemble Talus Dome is a feat of design and engineering in its own right. Our plan is to repurpose the formwork for High Desert Test Sites to become Yucca Crater.
This unique approach utilizes our artistic waste stream to create a public artwork in its own right. It is an important aspect of the project as it addresses a critical point in our understanding of the environment today— the need to eliminate waste and encourage re-use. Upon completion of the Talus Dome in Edmonton this summer, the formwork will be transported to California’s high desert. There, we will invert the structure and transform it into Yucca Crater, an artificial aquatic land mass both incongruous to and reminiscent of the Mojave Desert. We need the support of US Artists donors to make this project happen. Transporting and repurposing a structure of this scale will be a great undertaking. It will require support from those interested in enriching the California landscape with ecologically minded and imaginative architecture. Our goal is to maximize the use of material and to convert the solar and wind resources naturally available. Funds will provide transportation, delivery of water, liner materials, hand holds for climbing, assembly equipment, paint,lumber, water filtration, a Savonius (wind) Turbine and lighting (solar powered).
Yucca Crater materializes the surreal — echoing and contrasting the earth through architecture. Its dramatic silhouette reconfigures the landscape while welcoming physical interaction from viewers. Rather than passively observe the art, visitors will be encouraged to climb and descend the walls of Yucca Crater for a moment of respite in the cool, tranquil pool below. As a contributor to High Desert Test Sites, Ball Nogues Studio is eager to illuminate the California desert. To donate or learn more visit the US Artists Project by clicking here.