Field And Figures

Field and Figures

February 17, 1989, World Premiere, Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN; City Center, New York, NY; other venues throughout the United States

Commissioned by:
Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York, NY

Backdrops: H 30’ x W 60’ x D 40’ (H 914 x W 1828 x D 1219 cm.) Variable according to the stage dimensions.
Pendant: Both circle and square measure 4’.
Rods: H 15’

copper, scrim, fiberglass, spandex, aluminum, white light, and gold

Fathom draws a line from the local to the infinite, and from source to potential, against the human measure of lived experience, physical existence and personal perception. The three elements of Fathom play upon each other and were conceived to provide a gradual, cumulative experience of discovery. The local topography of Sanpete Valley symbolizes the vessel into which humanity pours its aspirations. The very earth of the valley is the wellspring from which it rises; its geology crystallizes and records these transformations. Sanpete’s stone architecture exemplifies the human role, offering a specific geographic and cultural point of reference.

Offering both an epic, historical view of place as well as an intimate point of reference for the library’s daily patrons, Fathom evokes the dramatic scope of time past, the legacy of humanity in Sanpete County, and the vitality of the present moment.


Opaque Smoky Backdrop Dotted with Points of Cobalt Light, Translucent Horizontal Striped Scrim, Gilt Circle and Copper Square Pendant (Revolving), Three Red Rods (Swaying)

All fourteen costumes were banded with the same increment as the striped scrim drop behind them. Bright red lines crossed certain figures.

The lighting design accommodated an element of chance and evolved over the work’s duration, beginning with dramatic, vertical beams of light (rain lights.) The work was punctuated by intermittent occurrences of reflected light from the revolving gilt pendant.

Site Description:
The work was created for a typical proscenium stage that varied in size, depending on venue.