Saturday, September 20, 2014

Core Sample Time Line

Here are a few photos of Core Sample Time Line, the public art installation at the Washington Park MAX station, deep underground. The RACC description:

Time line that uses the actual rock strata taken from the vicinity of this underground light rail station to create a 16 million year time line. Located at Washington Park Station where the platform is 265 feet below ground.
TriMet's Blue Line art guide elaborates:
Westside design team artists took inspiration from geology and mining at this collaboratively designed station.
  • A basalt circle the diameter of the tunnel reveals facts about mining
  • The magnitude of time is expressed in the Core Sample Timeline
  • Circular stools mimic the core samples
  • Light boxes shimmer with fossil-like images
  • Some elevator door images are animated when the doors open

The time line was created by Bill Will, whose work has appeared here a couple of times before: Eleven Very Small Sculptures in NW Portland's Wallace Park, and Street Wise in the sidewalk on SW Yamhill between 3rd & 4th, downtown.

Educational art is great and all, but here's a blog post where an actual geologist explains what we're looking at here. Go read it, and you'll start to realize what it means when you see a 40' long chunk of basalt on the wall. The Pacific Northwest was a terrifying volcanic hellscape for much of the last 16 million years, like something out of a cheap SyFy movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Debbie Gibson, and a bunch of bad CGI. I'm actually a little surprised nobody's ever made a disaster movie about the return of Columbia flood basalts. Maybe it's because it happened in the Northwest and not in California, therefore nobody in Hollywood has ever heard of it.

One fun detail to be aware of: A late part of the timeline includes a bunch of digits of pi, to illustrate humanity beginning to comprehend the universe. Unfortunately the digits of pi shown here are wrong. Seriously. Apparently someone misread a table of digits of pi and dropped several columns of digits by accident, and nobody noticed until after the bogus digits were literally written in stone. D'oh!

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