Holocene Terrace

The Holocene Epoch, the latest interval of the Earth’s geologic history, is the younger of the two epochs that comprises the Quaternary Period at the end of the Cenozoic Era. The Holocene Epoch follows the Pleistocene Epoch, and it constitutes the last 11,000 years to the present. It follows the last glacial stage of the Pleistocene and is characterized by relatively warm climactic conditions. The sediments of the Holocene Epoch, both continental and marine, cover the largest area of the globe of any epoch in the geologic record. The Holocene Epoch begins with the late and post-Stone Age history of mankind and ends with contemporary time.(1)

Cities, architecture, roads and other civic constructions made by mankind of earth materials during our Epoch (the Holocene) may be considered in a geologic context as forms of ‘anthroturbation.’(2) This term describes the disturbance, dislocation and restructuring of geologic formations and materials by human agencies into new forms. These processes have analogies in the natural world, such as: mining as erosion, transport as flow and construction as sedimentation. Likewise, the built topography of a city can be understood in geomorphic terms: streets as canyons, buildings as plateaus, sewers as caves and plazas as playas.

Installed in the one-person exhibition, Morphology of Change, at the Lance Fung Gallery, New York, NY, Holocene Terrace, is a transparent, wood-framed structure that extends the open portion of one of the gallery’s street-facing windows into the center of the exhibition space. Within the chamber open only to the outside world is a field of living moss from California and Massachusetts. The moss is subjected to the environmental conditions of New York City for the length of the exhibition; on dry days the moss is a dormant grayish color, on rainy days--to the extent that weather can reach within the structure--a vibrant green. Holocene Terrace is a niche in the canyon wall of Soho’s Broadway, the moss a suggestion of the plant growth possible on the rock formation that is New York City.

John Roloff, 1999


  1. Source, "Holocene," Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98, Standard Edition.
  2. This term was developed in conversation with the geophysicist, Paul Sprudich