Humboldt Ship

Site performance kiln/furnace, 15 ft. (4.6 m) high, steel, refractory cement, high temperature insulation, propane, Arcata, CA, 1989.

Left: pre-firing construction, steel armature for insulating ceramic fiber blanket shown.

Center: fire state - 12 hr firing

Right: post-firing, cooled, altered state, ceramic fiber blanket removed.


This work is part of a series of environmental kiln/furnace works done from 1980 to 1992. The third of three site/performance works with the name 51 Million BTU’s. The "sinking ship" image represents the settling and deposition of botanic materials in the geologic transformation into fossil fuels, the kiln's internal "flue" are mold forms taken from trees altered to resemble Mesozoic cycads. The other projects in 51 Million BTU's are Untitled (Earth Orchid), 1988 and Oculus: Dead Sea/Oil Field, 1989.
A video installation/project, 51 Million BTU’s/Metabolism Study/C3H8, e-, NaCl, examines and tranforms the energy expenditure of the three projects. The 51 Million BTU series were progenator's of subsequent projects: Metabolism and Mortality/O2, 1992, Rotting Flame, 1994, and Pitzer Project: A Prototype System for the Production and Distribution of Ancient Sunlight, 1996


Furnace Projects, Constance Lewallan

Kiln Projects: Material and Process Experiments in/of the Landscape, John Roloff