The American Land Art movement, started in the 1960s, wanted to move art out from galleries and away from the European traditions of sculpture. Michael Heizer wrote ‘The museums and collections are stuffed….. but real space exists’. They began to work in remote unoccupied areas of America. Many of Michael Heizer’s works were about removing mass to create a work, rather than building with materials. In 1968 he made 9 Nevada Depressions. ‘Rift’ was a large zig-zag shape, measuring 158m x 4.5m x 3m, ‘Isolated mass’ was a loop shape 366m x 36m x 3m, both cut into a dried up lake. ‘Double Negative’ made in 169-70 involved excavating 240,000 tons of earth and rock to create 2 giant trenches facing each other across a valley, with overall measurements of 457 x 15 x 9m. The large scale of the work would overpower any human walking through it, yet it in turn is dwarfed by it’s surroundings. These works are about the human scale in the landscape against the background of time. Many of the works erode and decay. It is impossible to appreciate the scale of these works from photographs. The works are difficult to see in their entirety from the ground and give different appearances from different aspects.They are difficult to visit because of the location. Double Negative still exists and is visited, although locals do not know of it.
Jeffery Kastner, Brian Wallis 1998 Land & Environmental Art Phaidon