Magma Chambers (Corvus/Orchidacaea/Kolumbo)

Installation: Scarecrow exhibition / Domaine Sigalas / Oia, Thera, Santorini, Greece / 2016

Special thanks to: Paris Sigalas, Ersi Sotiropolos, Maria Vasariotou, the Domain Sigalas staff, Ann Wettrich and Annika Scheffrig
Materials/scale: nylon flag cloth, silcone, hardware, rope, poles installed on site by Domaine Sigalas staff / 6m x 3m x 30m

Left: Detail of two 'wing' elements

Center: Installation view of full project to the north east towards the off-shore Kolumbo volcanic center.

Right: Detail of one of two 'orchid' emements

Video Documentation of Project


Magma Chambers (Corvus/Orchidacaea/Kolumbo)

Magma Chambers (Corvus/Orchidacaea/Kolumbo), is sited on the broad volcanic plateau at the northern end of the Greek island of Thera, part of the archipelago, Santorini, of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. The project is a ship-like structure, composed of 6 articulated, black ‘sails’ mounted on 3 ‘masts,’ aligned to the prevailing winds as if ‘tacking’ a route against the flows of subterranean magma along the Kolumbo (Columbo) fault running between the main caldera of Santorini and the submerged volcanic center of Kolumbo to the north east of the island. The volcanic system of Santorini is part of the Hellenic Arc, a curved line of volcanic centers generated by the subduction of the African Plate beneath the Aegean micro-Plate.

Caldera and structural setting of Santoini volcanic field (after Heiken and McCoy/1984

The images represented by the sails of triangular ‘jibs,’ crow wings and abstract orchids relate to earlier works such as the environmental kiln project, Mountain Kiln (Black Orchid), 1982, the geologic flag installation, Protogaea Civica (Geology Flags: Franciscan Formation/San Francisco, CA II), 2005 and a proposed inter-species dialog, Elk Tracking Machine (Phantom Herd), Quaternary Explorations: Tule Elk Habitat Project, 2010. In response to the exhibition’s theme of ‘scarecrow,’ the reference to the crow (genus Corvus) in this project, is as a witness to the volcanic history of Santorini. As a migratory species that theoretically returned numerous times to the island between eruptions in recent geologic time, the crow may know something about the island beyond human understanding. Instead of ‘scaring’ the crows from the fields, Magma Chambers (Corvus/Orchidacaea/Kolumbo), attempts to conjure a dialog with the birds and evoke unknown historical narratives. Both the layered feathers of the crow and the overlapping petals of the ‘orchid’ have analogies to lava flows of volcanic eruptions emanating from magma chambers of wing or orchid-like structure. The concept of ‘obsidian orchids’ as the internal make-up of igneous structures and analogies of the organic in geologic processes has been a long-term theme woven into much of my work. As an extension of the recent discussions about the geologic epoch, Anthropocene, the concept of a Corvusian Age (age of crows) within the epoch is suggested. This project in concert with other works proposes recognition of the wisdom and potential inter-species conversations as expansive alternatives to traditional mind-sets about our environmental dialog.




Selected/Recent Projects