Dear Agency Employees:
I, (Jim Sanborn), am writing this letter to give you an idea
of what I am up to at the Agency, (CIA), and to explain
those big tilted slabs of stone.
The stonework in the courtyard and at the entrance to the new
building serves to [sic] functions:
First, it creates a natural framework for the project as a
whole and is part of a landscaping scheme designed to recall
the natural stone outcroppings that existed on this site
before the Agency, and will endure as do mountains.
Second, the tilted strata tell a story like pages of a document.
Over the next several months, a flat copper sheet through which
letters and symbols are cut will be inserted between these
stone "pages." This code, which includes certain ancient
ciphers, begins as International Morse and increases in
complexity as you move through the piece at the entrance and
into the courtyard. Its placement in a geologic context
reinforces the text's "hiddenness" as if it were a fossil
or an image frozen in time.
An installation in the courtyard further explores this theme.
On the paved surface, supported by a petrified tree, will
stand a curved, vertical copper plate. Approximately 2000
letters of the alphabet are cut through this plate (a
process which requires four months of work). The left side
of the plate is a table for deciphering and enciphering code,
developed by Blaise de Vigenere in 1570.
The right side is a text that can be partly deciphered by using
the table and partly by using a potentially challenging
encoding system. The text, written in collaboration with a
prominent fictionwriter, is revealed only after the code is
My choice of materials, like code, conveys meaning. At the
entrance a lodestone (a rock naturally magnetized by
lighting [sic]) refers to ancient navigational compasses.
The petrified tree recalls the trees that once stood on this
site and that were the source of materials on which written
language has been recorded. The copper, perforated by text,
represents this "paper." I also use another symbol; water.
In a small pool on the plaza, partly surrounded by the copper
plate, water will be turbulent and provocative, constantly
agitated into standing waves. In the other pool, located among
trees in the courtyard and between two massive outcroppings,
water will be calm, reflective, contemplative. Other materials
around the site -- large stones, ornamental grasses, and small
trees -- are designed to make the natural features surrounding
the Agency more visually interesting and thought provoking.
My work at Langley is approximately two thirds complete. If
you see me or my apprentices working, please don't hesitate
to ask questions about the work.
-- Compiled from Gary Phillips II's Realm of Twelve Site