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Jim Sanborn's letter to the Agency

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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.


Jim Sanborn

-- Compiled from Gary Phillips II's Realm of Twelve Site

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If you're interested more information about Jim Sanborn's letter to the Agency:
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