Monday, August 6, 2007

impermanence

I brought the tower down this weekend. I suppose it's a milestone in that the next time it stands assembled it will be on the playa.

By its very definition, a temporary sculpture/installation is meant to exist for a specified period of time and then disappear. This allows for the use of materials and methods that ordinarily wouldn't make sense in a large scale outdoor sculpture. The bamboo drys and cracks, the rubber inner tube lashings break down and fall apart. These qualities dominate the temporary nature of the piece and are a big part of what make the tower so challenging in an engineering sense.

It's a matter of time and scale. A stone column may seem a fairly permanent piece of structure, but travel around the world and you'll see stone columns that have crumbled to dust, the centuries of sun and wind, heat and cold, water and ice all working their magic to return them to the earth as nothing more than their base elements. Were a stone column is concerned this could take thousands of years. Bamboo and rubber, on the other hand, have a much shorter cycle. Once cut from their source of nutrients, these materials immediately begin their march to decomposition. The cut bamboo poles that I'm using will be reduced to fibers after a few years exposure to the elements. The rubber inner tubes even quicker. Much, much quicker as it turns out. In the month that the tower has stood on my property, the lashings have deteriorated to such a degree that they will have to be re-wrapped before I leave for the playa.

My plan is to install the fresh lashing over the top of the existing - keeping them from unraveling and harvesting what compressive strength remains. They'll last through the event - but not much longer. More temporary than I imagined.

I also managed to contract some sort of cold/flu bug that had me on my back all day Thursday and Friday. It wasn't until late Saturday afternoon that I felt my physical energy return. I tend to take my good health for granted. All it takes is a small bout with the flu to remind me that my health and physical vigor are gifts of limited duration. I strive to make the best of my impermanent condition.

1 comment:

elija said...

glad you are feeling better, Glenn!
thanks for the interesting introspective. we take much for granted. an important lesson to remind ourselves before we make the journey home.