Fragment: The Hidden Sea (Island of Refuge)

35 ft. long, cement, artificial stone, timed water-seepage system, roses, landscaping, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1993

An "artificial" sectioned rock outcrop whose polished front facade is activated by intermittent and distributed seepages of water. An illusion of the art work is that the water is flowing "uphill."
The main structure is set into a series of wave-like grass berms, the berms and structure provide sitting and relaxing space for the students of the surrounding housing complex.

Left: Site view approximately towards the east, shortly after installation.
Center: Side view with new, unplanned tree element, circa 1997.
Right: Detail of surface showing fossil inclusions, and waveform stratigraphic sub-structure and unconformities with each main element.

"Fragment..." An assemblage of geologic materials and concepts adrift as if broken from a larger system floating in what is a geologically complex and fragmented terrain as in the Franciscan and Great Valley rock sequences that make up much of Western California. These ‘suspect terrains,’ are geologic progressions of ancient sea floor deposited against the original North American continent by accretion processes generated by plate tectonics and oceanic sea-floor spreading over millions of years.

"...(Island of Refuge)" An interactive topography: an ‘outcrop’ sited in a communal terrain, berms for relaxing and reading, the back slope for viewing activities on the adjacent grass expanse, the slow drip of the front facade inviting investigation of its origin and secrets.

"...The Hidden Sea..." A sea that resides in the memory of all sediments deposited in marine and estuarine environments. A sea that once lapped shorelines, that can now only be imagined. A sea that exists within the vast expanses of stratified material making up sedimentary landscapes, its currents and subtle subcurrents persisting in the orientation and gradients of minute lithified particles that drifted and settled to the bottom of the deep oceans. The variable seepage of water from the front facade of Fragment: The Hidden Sea (Island of Refuge) provides a living reminder of these themes, dampening the fossil-like inclusions and waveform strata.

John Roloff 1993 (revised, 1997)


Stanford Sculpture Collection map: