Mono Lake

Robert Smithson
Mono Lake, California, USA
8 mm film and Instamatic slides, color, sound
Duration: 19 minutes, 54 seconds

Mono Lake is an artwork by Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt.

Using a combination of 8 mm film and Instamatic slides, ​Mono Lake ​documents Smithson, Holt, and fellow artist Michael Heizer as they explore one of the oldest lakes in North America. The film is both a nostalgic home video of the young artists’ road trip, and an exposition of the lake’s striking singularity. Heizer and Smithson read facts about the site’s geology, indigenous history, and unique ecosystem over a disparate musical score.


Scholarly Text

Mono Lake: Ring of Fire

Aurora Tang
Mono Lake opens in dramatic flames set to a cinematic soundtrack by Michel Legrand, before transporting viewers to the gravel roads of the Eastern Sierra. The film was shot on July 28, 1968 by Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, and Michael Heizer, and edited by Holt in 2004. We join the artists on a road trip through the “frost and fire” glacial and volcanic landscape, to Mono Lake, an ancient lake in the Basin and Range. Mono Lake serves as a portal to this curious landscape, shot during a pivotal time for each of the artists, and for the United States. In 1968, while seismic social and political shifts were underway across the country, cultural boundaries were also changing, and Holt, Smithson, and Heizer were forging new artistic terrain.

See Also

Robert Smithson
Film & Video