Ant Farm, a group of artists and architects based in San Francisco, produced experimental work between 1968 and 1978. The group combined architecture, performance, happenings, sculpture, installation, and graphic design, and documented its activities on camera in the early days of video art, embracing the latest technologies to disseminate its scathing criticism of American culture and mass media.
In 1974 Ant Farm staged Cadillac Ranch Show, its most famous intervention, in Amarillo, Texas, along U.S. Route 66. Ten different models of Cadillac cars were half-buried in a row, nose-first in the ground, at a sixty-degree angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt. Each car features one step in the evolution of the tail fin from 1949 to 1963 in a statement about innovation in a technological era, the American dream, and the absurdity of consumerism. The cars are periodically repainted; they rarely last more than a few hours without new graffiti. The video alternates between footage of the making of the installation and sequences in which members of the group examine each Cadillac in detail, depicting its value as a design object at once wonderful and grotesque and as an expression of the values of American society.
Gallery label from Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge, November 26, 2008–October 12, 2009.