I am presenting my high wire installation as my final project. It was built entirely of raw materials, designed and made by myself over the last 5 months. Its dimensions are 163’ l x 104’ w x 23’ h. Made of steel, wire rope, cable, paint, and nylon, the structure consists of 27 stakes, 3 trees, two truss towers supporting a high wire, 4 pole masts supporting a net, many pieces of rigging hardware and 5 hoists. It is the largest and most complicated piece of sculpture that I have ever made. In addition it is able to support people, allowing them to climb over it, walk on the wire if they are so inclined and move about in the net. It is also portable, breaking down into manageable parts and could be erected anywhere. In the next couple of months I am going to give a performance and showing of the sculpture for friends and some members of the community. Thanks must be given for the help of certain individuals as well. I would like to thank Susanna Carlisle and Bruce Hamilton for their advice in engineering and design as well as their tremendous help and support in this project, and of course also on the ground swinging sledges, surveying the site erecting and guying mast and towers and for helping to document the process. I would also like to thank Darien Raistrick, Charles Calef, and Billy Dressman for helping to suspend the net and being among the first to trust its integrity by leaping into it.
This month I have continued to spend time rehearsing on the high wire and refining the rigging of the sculpture. The the net is being tuned and I have been experimenting with various tensioning geometries. I have been practicing jumping from the wire into the net. The first couple of times this was scary, but with time I have grown much more comfortable with being in the air. I have been videoing some of my practice sessions as well. It is useful to be able to see myself in motion, the lines of my poses. It allows me to refine my gestures and understand sources of imbalance. It also allows me to see the dynamics of the structure under use.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading, and writing as well. Recently I have come across Simon Rodia and his Watts Towers. What incredible stories and sculptures they are. Rodia for thirty years builds the towers without help or funds, solely on his own. He builds them for no purpose, but rather to fulfill an inner desire. When a neighbor asks him “what was it,” he answered “maybe I a go to the sky.” The slender steel reinforced concrete arcs and columns are marvels of engineering. These towers are a pure testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the human spirit. As Buckminster Fuller said of them, “As time goes on they begin to reveal to humanity the soul of the artist. How to see the beauty of nature and see it in its principals, to understand the principals. He demonstrated the beauty on the freedom of initiative, not to politically stand on a soap box and talk, but actually to try to conceive of things that are important to humanity, to do more with less.”
Attached to this process are some photos of sequences and poses which I am refining day by day. Some are of the net and structure itself, others are of myself walking with as much stillness and poise as I can, and others are of delicate balancings which will require great practice to master. How quickly this first year passed!