The same year Robert Smithson made his 1,500-foot Spiral Jetty, a pile of mud, salt crystal and rock that spiraled out from the shore into the Great Salt Lake, he made a film about making Spiral Jetty. In it, he wanted one shot to tell the history of the Earth, so he asked his wife, artist Nancy Holt, to film while he climbed up high in a quarry. He dropped down pages torn from a world atlas, so that what we knew of Earth’s history was raining down onto rocks and mud. Years later, in 2007, filmmaker James Benning made Casting a Glance, a film about Smithson’s Jetty. The work had by that point disappeared under salt water, then re-emerged with changed texture and color. Benning shows how Jetty had changed since 1970 and how it changed more gradually over the year and a half he filmed. Both Smithson’s and Benning’s films screen at MOCA on Thursday. To be fair, they’re really boring, but boring in the way that meditation is: If you surrender yourself to their monotonous, meandering, hypnotic musings on the Earth’s surface, you might actually start to feel euphoric.

Thu., July 12, 7 p.m., 2012

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