self portrait in stone and space


I’ve tried to build this stack three times. once in cape elizabeth, once on the side of the highway in new jersey, and once in a quarry that I never did anything else in.  it always ends up falling around shoulder height, as I don’t always seem to build perpendicular to the surface of the earth. the lean eventually becomes such that it no longer balances, even though it’s straight and strong.

this build is not perfect. it is not a full representation of what I want. however, it’s a start. it was a strenuous and dangerous project. I occasionally stepped into the void to check whether I still fit. the shoulder space is too tight, and there’s too much space around my neck and head. the granularity and depth could use a little work, too. the peak wasn’t very well formed, mostly because it was way above my head; I even needed to make a little bench on which to stand using driftwood.

it was a good exercise. I worked hard, and I actually ended up having to ask for help a few times – once when the stacks started tipping, and twice when I was placing something too heavy that would have disrupted the internal balance. this was more often than not due to the difference between the current top layer of the stack and the underside of the stone being placed.

the funny thing I keep noticing is that nearly every SATISFYING stack takes 3 hours, big or small. it just seems to be the amount of time proportional to the mental energy I need to complete a built thought.

I’m going to keep working on these self portraits. the idea that I am what remains between the stones. the fact that you see the water and sky as contents of the void within the wall is even better. I feel more connected to the ocean and the clouds than I do to human flesh I’m borrowing from the earth. the next stage needs to have more connectivity, somehow join more material and more of my being to the work. the self portraits will continue.

I wanted to post a video of me dropping the stack at the end of my visit, as I’ve done a couple times in the recent past, but chance had different plans. a lot of people came up as I was finishing to take pictures, and as it was a nice weekend, there were some people taking senior photos – a little late, but everybody is busy these days, so I completely understand. either way, a young woman and her family asked if they could use my work as a backdrop. I warned them about the relative lack of safety and the risk of collapse, but they seemed intelligent and chill, so I had no problem with it.


our new friend took a variety of photos in front of the stack, and her photographer suggested she should take some where she was peeking through the opening. she started to walk behind the stack, wobbled a little as she crouched next to the back, and –

CRASH! the whole thing fell right apart. I’ve never seen someone so surprised. a little kid in the background started howling in terror. I couldn’t help but laugh in spite of myself. well, that was that!

yeah. it was a good day.

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