loading video...

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona

art +1.2K shares connections: +170

the biggest piece of temporary land art in arizona

 

Award-winning director Owen Brown presents his latest short film, unveiling the narrative behind Arizona’s largest temporary land art installation, second only to James Turrell’s Roden Crater. Completed by Jim Denevan in collaboration with over 30 Navajo people, the colossal piece adorns the rugged Arizona desert landscape, serving as a mesmerizing backdrop for the latest music video by electro-rock band A R I Z O N A, titled Moving On.

 

Crafted to emanate a sense of hope, the film starts in a dry riverbed, surrounded by an expansive 300-foot-wide art installation, concluding with a striking light art show. The unique project not only marks the first-ever music video featuring a major land art piece but also pioneers the construction of a football field-sized lighting rig above land art, producing a towering 300-foot-tall light show. In a conversation with designboom, Owen Brown sheds light on the project, delving into the creative process, the individuals involved, and the meaning behind this ambitious undertaking. Read the interview in full, below.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
Owen Brown’s short film unveils the narrative behind Arizona’s largest temporary land art installation | image by Brighton Denevan

 

 

Sand, Triangles, Mirrors, Lights by Jim Denevan and Owen Brown

 

Owen Brown (find more here) and his team collaborated to construct the monumental installation in a dry Arizona riverbed, after extensive exploration across the state. In partnership with land artist Jim Denevan (find more here) and the Navajo Nation (find more here), the labor-intensive six-day process, from sunrise to sunset, embodied the saying ‘it takes a village.’ Their goal was to create one of Arizona’s most significant art pieces, featuring a central stage for an expansive A R I Z O N A performance. Jim Denevan meticulously crafted the artwork from the sand of the Arizona Desert, consisting of outward cascading triangles in concentric circles. The land art is complemented by a synchronized light show, harmonizing seamlessly with live music. Owen Brown’s contribution extends to three triangular mirror columns strategically placed in various National Parks, reflecting and enhancing natural surroundings amidst the dynamic interplay of sunlight.

 

The music video has earned a spot at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas—a multifaceted festival celebrating the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture. There, Owen Brown will present the film and participate in a music video panel, discussing how to overcome the challenges of making music videos in the age of TikTok. Furthermore, the project is a nominee for the best music video production design at the prestigious film award festival Ciclope, where it competes with renowned artists such as Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
completed by Jim Denevan in collaboration with over 30 Navajo people, the piece adorns the Arizona desert landscape | image by Josh Chomik

 

 

interview with MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR Owen Brown

 

designboom (DB): Can you describe the creative process behind the creation of this project?

 

Owen Brown (OB): Sure, let me start at the beginning. I started my creative agency CTRL5 to help artists create powerful visual worlds across their album rollout campaigns. We use one central design foundation to connect all of their visuals as they’re releasing a record, from album art to music videos. The first thing I do when I’m working with an artist is establish what their world will look like. And that’s exactly what I did with A R I Z O N A for this project. Working with the band, we decided on a visual identity that combines iconic Arizona landscapes with modern art and design principles. Picture a James Turrell light installation inside of the Grand Canyon.

 

Working with a band named A R I Z O N A, my hope was to make the people of Arizona proud by creating a design foundation inspired by the state, but unlike anything the world’s ever seen. In this project, I was A R I Z O N A’s creative director across their album release campaign, and I also directed their land art music video – all of which was produced by CTRL5.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
the expansive 300-foot-wide art installation | image by Brighton Denevan

 

 

DB: How did the collaboration with Jim Denevan come about, and what do you think his distinctive style added to the visual storytelling of the music video?

 

OB: After I established our design foundation, I started thinking about what kind of art to build in an Arizona landscape and discovered the field of land art. I started researching artists in the space and one immediately jumped out as the person I most wanted to work with: Jim Denevan. He’s a big-fucking-deal artist who’s had his work featured in MoMA and is considered one of the world’s best land artists. He creates art with sand, using nature as a canvas to make vast land art that can span hundreds of feet. Or sometimes, even miles. I found his email address online, wrote him a message, and hoped for the best. I thought there was a next-to-zero percent chance he’d respond. But the next day, he wrote back. The email had just one sentence in it: Let’s make something huge.

One reason I wanted to work with Jim is because he often uses simple shapes to create massive art installations. Before my conversations with him had begun, the band and I had picked one shape to be a recurring design motif across the campaign: triangles. So when I got on a call with Jim, my first question was if he could develop a land art design that would feature hundreds of triangles cascading outward. He said yes.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
the land art design features hundreds of triangles cascading outward | image by Brighton Denevan

 

 

OB (continued): My idea was to create one of the biggest pieces of art in Arizona history and build a stage in the center of it to shoot an A R I Z O N A performance of epic proportions. It took months of work to pull off, but with Jim’s help, we did. And through it, we created a first-of-its-kind design. The land art we made is the second-biggest piece of land art in Arizona history. The only land art that’s bigger in the state is James Turrell’s Roden Crater. It’s also the biggest piece of temporary land art ever made in Arizona history.

It’s the first time land art by a major artist like Jim has been created for a music video. We built the 300-foot-wide art to function as production design. It’s fine art as a film set. On top of that, I also wanted part of the film to feature a design that’s unlike anything the world’s ever seen. So for the grand finale, we built a lighting rig the size of a football field to pair our 300 foot wide land art with a 300 foot tall light show. I know it sounds crazy, but the result really is a spectacle unlike anything captured on film before. Let me explain. Jim often builds breathtaking land art, but he’s never layered a light show – where the lights sync perfectly with live music – on top of that art. We’re the very first to do that. We had to carry hundreds of lights into a dry riverbed to bring it to life. Cars couldn’t make it through the sand.

music-video-premiere-owen-brown-biggest-temporary-land-art-piece-arizona-designboom-full-01

image by Brighton Denevan

DB: How did you find that location?

 

OB: That was by far the hardest part. I sent out hundreds of emails to government agencies, like the National Park Service, who grant permission to film at Arizona locations. We were rejected by almost everyone.

After finding a few possible options, I flew to Arizona to scout locations with Jim’s son Brighton, who’s also a land artist. After a week, we couldn’t find anything that would work. The land was either not flat enough, not wide enough or too hard. We also couldn’t find anywhere with sand and red rocks, which was what I wanted. Not to mention, no one would let us fly drones. On the last day – after 100+ locations pitched and 20+ locations visited – we still hadn’t found anything. At that point, a location scout from the Navajo Nation government was taking us to different Navajo Nation sites. But at the end of the day, we had no possible options.

 

Heading home defeated, we drove over a bridge and our perfect location appeared on the horizon, just like a movie. The site was a spectacle to behold – a dry riverbed with sand as pristine as a beach in the Caribbean, in front of red rock formations taller than skyscrapers. That wasn’t just my first day working with Navajo Nation – it was my first time ever being in Navajo Nation. Shortly after, we partnered with them to create the project. It’s become one of the most emotionally resonant relationships I’ve had as a filmmaker. They helped make the impossible possible, and I was truly moved by the experience.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
the land art piece serves as the backdrop for the latest music video by A R I Z O N A | image by Owen Brown

 

 

DB: How else did the Navajo Nation help you realize the project?

 

OB: Our Navajo Nation team not only helped us find our location in a dry riverbed, they also went door to door to talk to everyone near it to get their approval, as well as find local Navajo artists.

Through that, 30+ locals in the small town of Round Rock, Arizona came out to support us. Dozens of Navajo artists helped us make the land art. The Navajo Nation fire department even offered to bring us water in their fire truck, which we needed to mold the sand into pyramids. I’d never been in a Navajo community before this project. It was a really uplifting experience.

 

It was essential to me that Navajo residents were part of the entire process. I wanted to make sure the community was behind us, as well as give them the opportunity to be involved.

 

It took 20+ people seven days, working every day from sunrise to sunset, to build the 300 foot wide land art. The build team was made up of local Navajo artists, Jim and Brighton Denevan, as well as their team, who traveled to Navajo Nation from across the country.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
multiple people worked six days, from sunrise to sunset, in order to build the piece | image by Owen Brown

 

 

DB: Why did you design mirror art as the production design for this new film?

 

OB: I designed three 10-foot-tall mirrored columns to represent the three members of A R I Z O N A. They’re three-sided columns, meaning, just like the land art, they’re also made out of triangles. I worked with the National Park Service and US Department of Agriculture to place them in some of Arizona’s most famous national parks, like Sedona’s Cathedral Rock National Park.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
Jim Denevan while working on the installation | image by Owen Brown

 

 

DB: What’s the meaning behind the art and design?

 

OB: For the song Moving On, I wanted to direct a music video that could use art to help anyone struggling to move on from a difficult time. So to make a beacon of hope, we designed a beacon of light—one strong enough to light up even the darkest of nights. The concept was to create a proverbial ray of hope with literal rays of light, 300 feet high.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
Owen Brown also designed three 10-foot-tall mirrored columns for the music video | image by Abi Polinksky

 

 

DB: What discussions or dialogues do you hope the art might spark?

 

OB: Most of the feedback from the original video has focused on how incredible the land art looks. What I hope everyone sees with this version is that there’s also an incredible story behind it. It’s hard to explain how massive a 300 foot wide piece of art is. The photos give you an idea, but it’s impossible to understand the scale without experiencing it first hand. To give you a better sense of it, imagine walking across a football field where every foot was sculpted into art. That’s what dozens of people from Navajo Nation helped us create – one of the biggest pieces of land art ever made in Arizona. It took a monumental effort to create that monument to hope. I hope it sparks a discussion about the power of community to achieve the impossible.

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
just like the land art, the columns are also made out of triangles | image by Abi Polinksky

music-video-premiere-owen-brown-biggest-temporary-land-art-piece-arizona-designboom-full-03

‘ I wanted to direct a music video that could use art to help anyone struggling to move on from a difficult time,’ shares Owen Brown | image by Josh Chomik

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
the three columns represent the band members | image by Josh Chomik

music-video-premiere-owen-brown-biggest-temporary-land-art-piece-arizona-designboom-full-02

the columns reflect the desert surroundings | image by Josh Chomik

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
image by Josh Chomik

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
the film concludes with a striking light art show | image by Brighton Denevan

first look: owen brown's music video unveils one of the biggest land art pieces in arizona
image by Brighton Denevan

 

1/6
image by Abi Polinsky
image by Abi Polinsky
image by Brighton Denevan
image by Brighton Denevan
image by Brighton Denevan
image by Brighton Denevan
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown
the Navajo Nation team | image by Owen Brown

project info:

 

name: Moving On 

music video director: Owen Brown
land artist: Jim Denevan
featured band: A R I Z O N A

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom
happening now! for over 50 years, florim ceramiche spa has been creating porcelain stoneware ceramic surfaces for all architecture, building industry and interior design needs – explore the new mystic luxe collection on designboom! 

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5