Incredible 'Land Art' Provides the Stage for This Music Video
Electo-pop trio A R I Z O N A wanted to create a love letter to their home state in a video for their song "Moving On."
Director Owen Brown of CTRL5 researched more than 100 locations, and eventually found an area in Round Rock, on Navajo land. Once the team gained approval from the tribal nation, artist Jim Denevan designed a 300-by-300 foot piece using elements of the land itself. It took more than a dozen workers six days to construct the artwork.
The clip kicks off with a band performance, and the surrounding landscape is breathtaking. As the sun sets, more than 50 lights rigged to the art provide a spectacular show.
Muse chatted with director Owen Brown about the challenge of finding the right location and working with Navajo residents.
How did the idea for the art come about?
Owen Brown: Working with the band, we decided on a visual identity that combines Arizona landscapes with modern art and design. Picture a James Turrell light installation inside of the Grand Canyon. I started thinking about what kind of art we could build in front of an Arizona landscape, and quickly discovered the field of land art. I started researching artists in the space and one immediately jumped out—Jim Devevan.
One reason I wanted to work with him is because he often uses simple shapes to create hundred foot wide art installations. For this music video, I worked with Jim and his son Brighton to develop a design featuring hundreds of triangles cascading outward to create the land art.
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How did you decide on the location?
The hardest part of the entire project was the location. 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, Brighton and I flew to Arizona to scout locations. But after a week, we couldn't find anything that would work. The land was either not flat enough, not wide enough, or too hard to sculpt. Not to mention no one wanted to give us permission to fly drones.
After 100+ locations pitched and 20+ locations visited—we finally found our perfect piece of land in a remote area of Navajo Nation, an hour away from the nearest hotel or restaurant. The site was a dry riverbed with sand as pristine as a beach in the Caribbean, in front of rock formations taller than skyscrapers.
How important was it to include Navajo residents in the building process?
It was essential. All of us wanted to make sure they were a part of the entire process. This is their land, so we wanted to make sure the community was behind the project, and even give them the opportunity to be involved in it. Navajo Nation helped us rally that support—I think they said they knocked on every single resident's door in the communities around the site to make sure they were okay with it. Getting so much local support made the project even more surreal.
Talk to me about the art. What does it symbolize?
The art, made for the song "Moving On," symbolizes what A R I Z O N A means for the band, and what they hope it can be for others: a place where misfits and outcasts can belong and a safe space for all people, especially those struggling to move on from difficult times. We lit it up at night to create a literal beacon of hope, shining bright through the darkness.
During the light show in the video, why were the specific colors chosen?
The colors I picked for the light show are all colors found in the Arizona sky, like reds, blues, yellows—even purples from Arizona sunsets that we saw first-hand on set. I'd been thinking a lot about James Turrell for this project, especially because one of his masterworks, Roden Crater, is in Arizona. In the video, the lights in the final night scene are yellow and blue, directly inspired by yellow-blue imagery from Roden Crater.