If Desert X were a fairy tale, the moral of its story would be to always get out of the car. That’s because with each of the 20-ish installations scattered across 50 square miles of town and dune from Snow Creek to the Salton Sea, part and parcel of the experience is the approach. The searching, spotting from a distance, figuring out how to get out there, watching it grow nearer, then ditching the car and doing the last quarter-mile on foot — it’s all requisite.
Not only the work of art itself is for consideration but also the temperature of the air, the sudden rain and double rainbow, the sun high overhead or dipping behind a ridge, the weight and noise of rushing wind, the softness of sand underfoot — all of this is as much a part of the work as its resins, petals, pigments, code, steel, stucco, wood or cloth. That’s the nature of land art as a rule and of this project in particular, whose raison d’etre is to unpack, resist and enhance the qualities of its place.
Coachella Valley locations, Feb. 9-April 21; free. desertx.org. There’s also a map-based app and a podcast.