The Sculpture That is Never Finished

Host Analog
“Host Analog” created by Buster Simpson

Host Analog is an art installation next to the Portland Oregon Convention Center. It is comprised of 8 sections of an old, felled Douglass Fir tree that was found at the base of Mt. Hood (Wy’east Mountain) in the Bull Run watershed in 1990. When it was transported and put into this installation, the pieces of wood were “nurse logs” carrying various species of plants on them already. Since it’s installation in 1991, the log and the small plot around it has developed and grown into a mini-ecosystem consisting of the native plants introduced by the Douglass Fir logs and the plants that seeded themselves over time. 

The living sculpture draws attention to the changing climate and the human element in that change with the foundation of it being a felled tree. Overall, however, it brings awareness to the adaptiveness and the resilience of nature. While humans may over-extract resources and create irreplaceable damage to parts of the global ecosystem, this art piece optimistically shows the resilience of nature and its ability to adapt to a completely new and different environment. 

The installation is in both support of science and is based on science. It is literally a biological art piece that is a demonstration of the natural process of biological adaptation.

The piece is interesting because so much of its significance comes from its history. To an ordinary person just passing by, it appears to be nothing more than a plot with some landscaping. However, if one takes a closer look at the installation and to read the history of the sculpture, it takes on a whole new meaning and that information is the doorway to engaging in further discourse. One of the most interesting things to reflect on is how this is a piece of art that will never be finished because it will always grow and always change. 

Host Analog calls for action but the call is different from some other pleas made by environmental art. The sculpture calls for the reaching out of humans towards nature. It calls for connecting with and observing ecosystems so that we may learn about resilience from them. By observing the adaptiveness of nature there is a possibility we may learn tools that could help us on a global scale with our changing climate.

This art installation outweighs the resources it took to put it into place. Yes, the transportation of the Douglass Fir logs created some emissions which negatively impacted the environment. However, the production of oxygen and the intake of carbon dioxide for the 29 years its been installed and the social impact it has had and will continue to have is, in my perspective, worth it.

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