Flux & Interruption: Contingencies in the Field

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Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine

Materials & Dimensions:
Two installations done in the landscape, using only the materials existing on each site.

These were two ephemeral installations created while I was an artist in residence at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Flux worked with the changes the tide created on the coastline. Interruption worked with contingencies of weather and geology on the plant community as these reveal a pattern of ongoing changes. Interruption is shown here.


root fan, soil
15 feet to 18 feet wide x 8 feet high, mound 3 feet diameter x 3 feet high

During the previous winter a heavy storm had toppled many spruce trees on Deer Isle. Spruce have naturally shallow root fans that spread even flatter when they hit the hard granite substrate of the island. Thus, because only a thin layer of soil covers the granite, each tree’s foundation is fragile. The trees tip over easily in a storm. This is called a "blow down".

While walking the trails, I discovered two spruce trees that had fallen over intact. Their paired root fans formed a broad wall about fifteen feet wide, but barely a foot and a half thick. Their uprooting had lifted an entire section of the forest floor. The root fan’s upper surface was surprisingly intact. The underside was a tangled mass of loose earth, root trailers, and assorted limbs broken from surrounding growth during their fall. The curves of the bared granite outcrop where the trees had grown revealed the resistance that had impeded the roots’ downward growth and channeled their interlace. It was as if a history book had been opened. If I cleared the pages, anyone could read it.

All I did was clean the bottom of the root fan and sweep the footprint it had left on the granite. I also cleared various branches that had been broken from adjacent trees by the fall. About a cubic yard of soil came away from the roots. This I displaced to a point down slope and near the water where two spruce trees grew in a similar situation with perhaps a similar fate. The soil is there now, shaped into a conical mound, easily visible downhill from the root fan. It is a marker made from the debris of one interruption to foreshadow an anticipated recurrence.