Visible Memory

Sound, Mirror, Grass, Aluminum Installation
Landscape: Sq. Feet 720,000; Mirrors: H 10' W 10' D2"
07. 11. 99 - 09. 30. 99
Sand Point (Naval Air Station), Seattle, WA


A symbolic city grid cut in grass overlays the top of three hills and alludes to a former life of an abandoned naval base. Pairs of mirrors in front of the bunker doors allow people to mirror to infinity. The sound of my voice reciting excerpts from Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities is audible behind the mirrors and bunkers' vents.

Project Description

Three hills at the Sand Point Former Air Station hide three bunkers whose underground and landscape provide the space for this installation. Each bunker contains sun activated audio equipment that project sound audible from both the doors and roof vent of the bunkers. The piece is overlaid by the sound of my voice reciting both in English and Italian excerpts from Italo Calvino's book Invisible Cities and that of singer and music composer James Whetzel chanting in the rhythms of water, wind, and fire. Three pairs of mirror plates hang from each side of the retaining walls of the bunkers. These mirrors are mounted at specific angles to reflect people in infinite space, capturing them as they walk through the installation. On top of the hills, the grass is mowed to create a geometric bass relived pattern resembling diamond squares. From a distance, visitors can see the extension of the exhibition by looking at the grass pattern revealed by shadows and light crowning the hills.

The combination of sound and voice acts as a catalyst for people to stop and wonder what exists behind the bunkers. Between the mirrors, trapped by the illusion of infinite space, visitors are carried through their own imaginations of time, space, and memories.

Visible Memory was part of the Seattle Arts Commission's Five Sites, a national competition of temporary artworks at the Sand Point Naval Air Station. A section of Visible Memory was also part of the HorseHead International 1999, also at Sand Point. This section was visible on one bunker, next to the water. A painted white crossing grid reinforced the deep crossing patterns made by the grass.


Seattle Arts Commission
HorseHead Sculpture Project
Office of Sand Point Operations
Seattle Conservation Corps
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Jones and Jones
James Whetzel
Kevin Hilbiber
Rico Chiarelli
Peter Gantt
Pedro Alexander
Paul Richards
Kevin Carl
Peter Straus
Don LaFrance
John Prinos
Captair Cole
Gus Sestrap
Uldis Zarins

Special Thanks

Howard T. Howlett
Howard Meeks