Land art, or "earthworks," is a comparatively young art practice that finds itself at the intersection between nature and culture. Coined by Robert Smithson in the late 60s, earthworks are categorized as sculptures, patterns, or images made from found objects, using only natural materials such as word, soil, or rocks. Last week, Minnesota-based graphic designer and self-described "landthropologist" Paul Johnson, released a short, painstakingly meticulous stop-motion animation entitled Earthworks in Motion. Johnson’s short film documents the assemblage of a series of dynamic land sculptures, in the tranquilizing, ataractic style of an Ansel Adams lithograph.
According to Colossal, Johnson’s knack for creating ‘art in the dirt,’ began when he was kid, spending hours at the beach drawing in the sand with a stick.
The website writes, Johnson eventually went on to discover other earthwork artists in school, such as Andy Goldsworthy and Jim Denevan. These animations were filmed in the nature preserves, parks, and wildlife refuges around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area the artist calls home.
Johnson’s own work recreates the patterns and images championed by these artists, on a more micro scale. He shrinks the manmade miracles of his predecessors down into a whimsical adaptation that incorporates the exuberant spirit of stop-motion.
Johnson carefully manipulates the elements to create mesmerizing circle patterns, a line of snow across a row of trees, and of course his own rendition of a Japanese rock garden. You can watch the video below: