Featuring Super 8 film footage and Instamatic slide images of artists Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer and Nancy Holt as they visited California's Mono Lake in July of 1968, this piece was edited by Holt in 2004. Mono Lake candidly captures the young artists as they explore the haunting landscape of one of the oldest and most distinctive lakes in North America. Heizer and Smithson are heard reading facts about the unique ecology, geology and natural phenomena of this alkaline lake. The voiceovers are set against filmed images and snapshots of the artists within the uncanny beauty of the lake's environment. Smithson is shown collecting cinders from the volcanic hills on the lake's shores, which were used to make his 1968 sculpture "Mono Lake Nonsite." Mono Lake is a document of a unique natural environment, a "home movie" of the artists' 1968 road trip, and an intimate view of three seminal figures in the earth art movement as they interact with the Western landscapes that are so central to their work.
The following text, which appears on-screen, provides further background on the recording and editing of the piece: "Mono Lake was shot in 1968 on Super 8 film and Instamatic slides, which were later transferred to video. Smithson selected the readings and the music by Michel Legrand for the early, unedited soundtrack, which was recorded close to the time of the filming. The two country and western songs were sung by Waylon Jennings at a performance in Las Vegas attended by Heizer, Holt and Smithson in the week before the trip to Mono Lake, California... Holt and Smithson originally planned to edit Mono Lake together. The project was subsequently put aside until 2004, when it was edited by Holt for the Robert Smithson Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles."
Robert Smithson, with Michael Heizer and Nancy Holt, caught on film July 27, 1968. Camera: Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson. Soundtrack Readings: Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson. Producer/Editor: Nancy Holt. Music by Michel Legrand from the soundtrack of the film "Bay of Angels" by Jacques Demy, Cine-Tamaris, 1963. Songs by Waylon Jennings: "Walk on Out of My Mind," (RCA Victor, 1967); "Stop the World (and Let Me Off)," (RCA Victor, 1965). Readings from the booklet "Rock Hounding Out of Bishop" written by Cora B. Houghtaling, Chalfont Press, Bishop, CA, 1967. A Holt/Smithson Video.