Earth Science


The Last Marriage of Space and Time
Daniel Chamberlin
Marfa Book Company
August 28 – September 18, 2015

The Last Marriage of Space and Time is a new body of work from Marfa-based artist Daniel Chamberlin. Chamberlin’s collaged photographs of crystals and minerals are paired with text taken from J.G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (1966), including a line from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Adonais, as quoted in the novel. The Crystal World is set in the riverside jungles of Gabon, and sits among Ballard’s natural disaster/apocalypse novels – see also: The Wind From Nowhere (1961), The Drowned World (1962) and The Drought (1964). It tells the story of a doctor traveling to a remote leper colony while contending with an environmental catastrophe in which life on Earth seems to be slowly succumbing to mass crystallization.

Chamberlin’s works feature language from the novel, and take inspiration from the designs of William Morris, the text-based work of Ed Ruscha, and the back patch textiles of the metal and punk communities. The wall hangings are printed on linen-cotton canvas; the typeface is Cloister Black, a font that originates in the early 1900s, but was adopted in the ‘80s and onward by metal bands such as Bathory and Nails. 

Prints are on linen-cotton canvas in unlimited edition. Available from Marfa Book Company for $200. Various sizes, approximately 38 x 56 inches. Inquire with MBCo for specific dimensions.

Phone: 432-729-3906

2-House-of-Jewels 3-Coruscation 4-Blind-Eyes 5-Gauntlet 6-Dripping-Forest   8-Sprouting-Needles 9-Haloes 10-Colder 11-Dome 12-Slack-Shallows


15 Apple Magicians
by Seven Feathers Rainwater

released 08 January 2011
Artwork by Daniel Chamberlin. Written, recorded, and mixed by Seven
Feathers Rainwater. Mastered by Michael Biggs. Contributing Musicians:
Stag Hare, Andy Cvar, & Parker Yates.

Seven Feathers Rainwater: Seth Pulver, Nate Simonsen, Taylor Christensen.


On location in the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas with filmmaker Jennifer Lane and David Hollander.

Jennifer Lane‘s new film, CLOUDS, is screening this Thursday, May 6th, at 9:30 pm under the stars at El Cosmico as part of the Marfa Film Festival.

CLOUDS (8 minutes) is a meditation on the water cycle of planet Earth, with lots of images of our beautiful and unique far West Texas cloud formations.

Check out the festival website for more details

Tickets are available at the door.




Tim Dundon is California’s self-proclaimed “Guru of Doo Doo,” a visionary compost wizard living in a tropical forest that lies between Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains in the unincorporated community of Altadena. I profiled Dundon — an extremely knowledgeable, endlessly charming and slightly paranoid man — for the December 2007 issue of Arthur Magazine. “The Sodfather” ran with absolutely gorgeous photography by Eden Batki — the above photos are my own.

The original version of the story can be found on the Arthur Magazine website. An earlier draft of the story that includes extra material regarding Dundon’s paranoid fantasies regarding the Illuminati, the Moonies, et al, can be found after the jump.

Read More

Temples of Time

The National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939 in part as a way to distribute World War II propaganda throughout the Great White North, but went on to become a bastion for experimental animation, “socially relevant documentaries” and other film projects “which provoke discussion and debate on subjects of interest to Canadian audiences and foreign markets.” In particular the NFB is known for producing some of the dreamiest nature documentaries of modern times — it’s where Boards of Canada got their name and a lot of their soft-focus naturalist vibes. And now the NFB has started posting their library of films online.

A lot of these docs are wordless montages of natural imagery accompanied by droning Eno/Tangerine Dream-style synthesizer soundtracks — our favorite so far is William Canning’s 26-minute short Temples of Time (1971), described by the NFB as follows:

A mountain is a living thing; it has an ecological balance, a process of evolution manifested in slow, subtle ways; but it is also subject to the ravages of human intervention. Filmed in the Canadian Rockies and in Garibaldi Park, this picture brings to the screen magnificent footage of mountain solitudes and the wildlife found there, of natural splendor in all its changing moods. The film carries the implicit warning that all this may pass away if people do not seek to preserve it.

Hook your computer up to your stereo for the full effect of Edward Kalehoff’s warbling synth drone soundtrack. Who needs to figure out the whole new digital TV upgrade chip whatever thing when we’ve got this treasure trove to explore? More to come …

Note: I’ve cross-posted over at the Arthur Magazine blog along with the embedded video.

(The last of the archival stuff from my soon-to-evaporate Uber blogs. This one’s from June 12 of 2008.)
Oh isn’t it lovely for Businessweek to show us what green entrepreneurship is really probably gonna look like. A voracious corporate raider buying up Texas water rights and building wind farms. Then using his lobbyist pals to create autonomous utility companies that get to try and exercise control Houston’s water supply. A future Lord of Thunderdome, as it were.

Read on in Businessweek.


In the late ’90s I went to Death Valley a few times with my girlfriend at the time, a fellow aspiring desert rat. The first time we drove north from Los Angeles, taking the 5 to the 14 to the 395 and exiting before the town of Ridgecrest on a two-lane county thoroughfare that splits through the overlap of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts called Trona Road. On the way we drove through the eponymous hamlet of Trona, a tiny company town outpost of a few thousand people. We stopped and poked around the desolate, all-but-deserted community and stuck our heads inside a huge, three-story cathedral made entirely of whitewashed cinderblocks. We had to leave after wondering at the people who worshipped in the cool, shaded confines of this high desert vestibule, as we were concerned about securing a weekend campsite in Death Valley. I wanted very badly to find a reason to return to Trona.

I started reading up on the town and found a community calendar that listed a Trona Gemo-O-Rama festival that was celebrating it’s 63rd year. The story I wrote about my weekend there ran in the October 22-28, 2004 edition of the LA Weekly, but without any pictures. I complete the tale with a bunch of photos that I took …

Diamonds in the Rough
Words and photos by Daniel Chamberlin
Originally published in the LA Weekly on October 22, 2004

When you walk out on the dry, brittle surface of Searles Lake, sunbaked salt crystals break off and blow across the ground, tinkling like ice on hard-pack snow. The salt flats cover 35 square miles of Great Basin desert that ranges from fields of crystalline dirt with the texture and temperature of a freshly baked pie crust to pristine reflecting pools of odorous effluence from the nearby mineral-extraction facilities. In order to keep ducks from landing here, electric hawk machines scream from power-line poles, and propane cannons fire off harmless explosives. Trona, the town of 2,000 residents that sits on the western edge of this landscape, is a rugged, lonely place that appears to be growing more desolate by the year.
Trona was founded on this plain between the Argus and Slate mountain ranges because of the borax, soda ash and potash that has been mined here since 1908. At its peak, the town’s population exceeded 3,000. But now people move away and leave their homes empty. A year or two ago, a serial arsonist began burning down the abandoned houses, and charred hulks still stand between sandy yards decorated with rusty desert artifacts. In one yard, a commercial fishing trawler warps in the heat. My guide, Jim Fairchild, is a semiretired chemical engineer working for Searles Valley Minerals, Inc., the company that currently operates the three plants in the area and which is the only significant employer for miles. He’s also the publicity coordinator for the Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society (SLGMS). He’s lived here since 1963 and insists that the triple-digit summer temperatures aren’t that bad. It’s a dry heat, he explains.

The SLGMS’s annual Gem-O-Rama has been held the second weekend of every October since 1941. It’s Trona’s biggest event, the only time that the town serves as a destination for people not associated with the mining industry. The festival was started by town matriarch Annie Pipkin, a woman known for organizing raucous dances and for the box of live rattlesnakes she kept on her porch. This year, 21 vendors have turned the SLGMS building into a bustling marketplace of quartz crystals from Arkansas, trilobite fossils from Morocco and tourmaline from Brazil. There’s also jewelry, Native American–themed artwork and demonstrations of lapidary equipment. But the big draw for the nearly 800 pilgrims to this scorched stretch of desert are the field trips to the salt flats.

Vehicles start lining up in the SLGMS parking lot at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. Since there are no restaurants to speak of, everyone heads over to the Trona Community Church for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. At 9 a.m., a caravan of 250 cars, trucks and RVs begins the slow, 5-mile haul to the Mud Piles.

A week or so before Gem-O-Rama, a fleet of backhoes digs up 50 tons of the briny mud from beneath the surface of the flats.


The mud is then spread out into two knee-deep swaths. It’s into this mess that hundreds of mineral collectors plunge in search of greenish-brown hanksite crystals. Some wear thigh-high rubber waders and thick gloves; others wallow in cutoff sweatpants and ragged tank tops. They attack the mud with shovels and pickaxes, or sink their arms up to the elbow into the sticky sludge in order to haul out chunks of minerals. Steve, an environmental geologist from Arizona with a mighty gray ponytail, toils with his friend Tyler at scrubbing their 150-pound chunk of hanksite clean. One man wearing a silver jumpsuit crawls through the mess on all fours, his eyes scanning for the perfect mineral cluster.

A larger group assembles that afternoon for the Blow Holes field trip, an expedition to a constellation of 50-foot-deep holes that were drilled earlier in the week and into which explosives were planted. Upon detonation, thousands of crystal shards

were thrown into the air and scattered about the plain. The day of the field trip, a huge steel tube is inserted into the most recently drilled hole and compressed air is pumped into the sea of brine that rests below. The crowd gathers in a wide radius around the metal tube, which spews a frothy mixture of toxic fluid and crystal debris. This goes on for a good 15 minutes while folks gnash their teeth at the sight of large hanksite and sulfohalite crystals tumbling through the air. Once the flow stops, the diehard rock hounds surge forward in a mad scramble. “Geezus!” exclaims one dad when his son presents him with a heavy bucket brimming with the nearly worthless gems. “What are you gonna do with all this stuff?”

Nearby, a little girl crouches next to her father, a muscle-bound desert rat whose tattoos are obscured by his deep-red sunburn. “Diamonds!” she laughs, running her hands through the minerals piled thick around her knees. “Precious, precious diamonds!”

As the field is cleared and the plant engineers grapple with the pipe, preparing to blow the hole again, one Trona resident turns to her neighbor and sighs. “Right now all the little boys are thinking, ‘I want to work at the plant when I grow up,’” she says.

“If we’re still in Trona then,” the woman next to her replies, “they probably will.”

© 2007 Daniel Chamberlin

More Into The Green:

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve (Part 1 of 3)

Old Growth: Indiana Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest – December 28, 2008

Glendale Narrows, Los Angeles River – October 14, 2008

Rancho Mesa, Mojave Desert – October 12, 2008

Tempe, AZ – November 15-17, 2008