Monitors/Land Monitors / 1980- 2005
The series of work relating to the monitor as exemplified by the Civil War Monitor ironclad and related vessels, was enhanced by research done at the National Archives and US Naval Historical Center in Washington, DC in the late 1970’s on a range of historical ships. The monitor represented a historical and radical transition in material, form and concept about a ship. The use of iron as a building material took the ship from the organic wooden realm into the inorganic, in the form of iron ore, volcanically transformed and essentialized into a metallic state. The whole life of an iron ship if viewed in a larger process of extraction, distillation, construction, oxidation (in the form of rust) and recombination, a condition of entropy and an analog with metabolism (anabolic and catabolic) become apparent. The characteristically low freeboard and waterline has allusions to landscape in it’s horizontality. In the history of ships the monitor was a critical, evolutionary hybrid of both form and application.
In this body of work the monitor took the form of kiln projects, larger sculptures, a series of models of landscape works and photographs. A significant and formative use of the monitor image or shape, was in the form of a site-specific kiln, Land Monitor/Fired Volcanic Boulder, 1980, here echoing the transformation of heat and material of the kiln as a journey of time and process, returning in time to the birth of the volcanic boulder fired within the form. This project will be examined more in depth in the planned companion volume, Project: Land Kilns. Land Monitor and a series of models for different landscape orientations with their iron oxide structure reference the oxidation of iron at the effective ‘end’ of the ships life and return to native elements. This idea was explored in the photographic series of Civil War ironclads and WWII ships, Orders of Entropy, 2006. Ship studies and proposals of the San Francisco Wharf Complex, 2008-12, as well as other proposals and projects, in part, derive their double-ended form from the Monitor series.
From the treatise - Project: Metafossil / John Roloff / 2013