“As a big reader of science fiction I am immersed in thoughts about our future. Consider the implications of the biosphere float, it can be a space to preserve parts of our ecosystems, it can be a site for agriculture, or a habitation for humans. Some day we may live in such structures on a larger scale!” “This is the way to achieve a better world, not about profit, but about working together to make a better world, to make the Anthropocene a survivable epoch for humankind and nature. Keep in mind that this is an experiment, that we have made a new object and that there will be challenges and new things to learn as we see how the ark reacts to nature.”
The effort is complete. The show’s are up and the ark was launched, and now it is on display on the shore of Lake Superiors Duluth Harbor.
What led to this is quite a story that we have made together, It has been getting a lot of attention and the public has really responded to the ark. The Duluth News Tribune has written three separate stories on the plan, true launching and the retrieval. Sheila Regan wrote a beautiful feature article in hyper http://hyperallergic.com/148275/an-artists-ark-meets-its-fate-on-lake-superior/and the Trib is writing something that will be in the Sunday paper. tomorrow.
So let me lay out the story of what happened, Sheila told it true, the ark sank… The launch went beautifully and the elaborate sequence of logistics went off without a hitch. I was elated. The ark floats as predicted, the anchoring system worked as planned and the only time i had to go in the water was to free the sling from the cables of the crane.
I watched for changes, in the ark to see if it was going to lower into the water, a few hours after launch i noticed a change, at first the ark was floating above its equator. a few hours later it was below. it had lowered a few inches. I fought it might be the anchor settling in or the current creating drag. I was soon anxious. That evening was difficult. The next morning the ark was still floating but was only 2 feet above the water. I contacted Annie Dugan on the phone. and Andy Citarella from the aquarium was there to spot me as I swam out to try to remedy the situation. I ran an air pump on shore with a battery and inverter, it was not tenable. The waves were choppy and a storm was brewing, I couldn’t find the source of the leak. and the pump was going to be too little to late. Annie Arrived and it became a rescue/salvage operation. I tied a rope to the ark, cut off the solar panels and swam them to shore. as i was in my car getting something the ark went down as Annie and Andy watched. I must have done six swims total. We consulted, i was cold and distraught. Annie was amazing, I had previously been in communication with Jim Briggs at Viant Crane. So I called him and explained the situation to him, I ran to get a buoy at Marine General (An awesome place) to mark the location while the ark was submerged. Annie notified the Coast Guard, The crane folk arrived and a scuba diver Rudy Prouty. He went into the water and found the ark, following the rope that i had tied to it earlier. he attached the rope and buoy that i had picked up at Marine General. now a white buoy marked the location of the sunken ark. The diver Rudy said the light was still on in the ark. must have been super bright. We were fortunate that the ark sunk and landed in its original orientation. Around us the crane was getting ready. but dark clouds were moving in, a storm coming. we watched anxiously for lightning. eventually we decided to delay the action when lightning strikes were seen. We postponed the move until the early morning, we would meet at 5am. I stayed at a hotel on the harbor.
I got up at 4am found some coffee and went down the site and watched the white buoy shift in the current. My friend Ryan Murphy arrived with more coffee and a snickers bar from Trudy. soon the crane operator Jeremiah Olson arrived and the diver Rudy Prouty and Andrew a second scuba diver. We lowered the boom and dropped three cables with shackles into the water. The divers attached the shackles to the pick points on the ark. They also released the anchor and removed the ballast stones from the steel cylinder. The divers broke the surface and signaled all clear and the ark began to rise. In the darkness the appearance of the ark was beautiful.
As the crane lifted the water-filled orb, the weight increased. As it neared breaking free of the water it weighed 13,000 lbs. All this weight on our pick-points and the armature we built. When it finally broke the surface a great whoosh of water was finally released. Jeremiah Olson the Viant Crane operator was amazing. He was able to manage the weight by bringing the ark closer to shore while the ark was still underwater, thus closer to the center of the crane where greater weights can be handled. After the ark was free from the water it only weighed 6,000 lbs. with all the anchor attachments etc. (The ark itself weighs just 4,000 lbs. :)) Jeremiah set the anchor down and I removed it, then we placed the ark on its cradle on shore,
As i watched the ark lose its water, I could still see plants inside, the ark looked whole and undamaged, the glass was intact. On closer inspection everything was still there. The data orb still in place camera still there. Panel mounts were undamaged. But finally i found the culprit, a hole in the hardware of one of the pick points. Its plug had come loose. Its covering of concrete had come out. I think this may have happened because of the pressure put on it by the shackles in transport. its a clean hole 3/8″ in diameter, you can see it on the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eunrscWzU_c
but otherwise the ark was in good shape. close inspection shows no structural damage. The ark will float again. I am committed to making it happen, The process has been an emotional roller coaster, it was epic and anxiety producing, disheartening and ultimately those experiences are enriching the story of the ark, and it has gained many more folk who are now invested in it and what it represents. It will float again.
Here are my acknowledgments:
This project is community sourced. it was built with the labor and expertise of many volunteers, crafts people, scientists and experts in many different disciplines. I want to thank Joel Sisson for welding and helping build the armature that withstood the immense pressures of lifting. Michael Boyd for making the beautiful piece of glass that serves as its window. Alec MacDougal who helped me with the concrete work. Ryan Seibold who curated the data that resides in its time/data capsule. Scott Puhl who helped me work out the electronics, Thanks to Allison Ruby who catalogued the plant species that were placed in the ark. Annie Dugan who helped in countless ways including working out the logistics of the rescue operation. Rocket Crane who expertly and gently lifted and transported the ark, from Minneapolis to Duluth. Thanks to George Brown who navigated the boat during the install. Sheila Regan who offered help and is wrote an extensive article for hyper http://hyperallergic.com/148275/an-artists-ark-meets-its-fate-on-lake-superior/. the Duluth News Tribune who have been covering this event from its launch. Thanks to scuba divers Rudy Prouty and Andy from innerscuba, Thanks to the folks at DECC who are hosting the ark on their property. And a big thanks to Andy Citarella and Jack LaVoy from the Great Lakes Aquarium who hosted the router and helped with the wifi signal for the camera. Andy Citarella from Great Lakes Aquarium spotted me while I swam out many times to the ark. And a big thanks to Viant Crane: Jim Briggs and Jeremiah Olson who showed up at a moments notice to rescue the ark from the depths when it suffered some damage and lost its air seal. Thanks to Peet Fetsch who did the design work for the promotional materials. Thanks to astrophysicist Larry Rudnick who offered help with the science and concepts behind this project. Thanks to Melissa Rudnick , Trudy Frederichs and Ryan Murphy who have been my support system through the ups and downs of this project. Thanks to my family. Thanks to David Gayman, Jenny Jenkins and Aaron Dysart. Thanks to the many people who made this happen by supporting my kickstarter campaign, Thanks to the Minnesota State Arts Board who funded my prototyping in the years previous.Thanks to Sparkfun for a little help with the electronics. Thanks to Kathleen Roberts, Nicholas Monson and the Prove collective gallery, who helped host the ark in Duluth… The life of the ark will continue and it will find its rightful home in the waters in due time. The names of those who supported this effort will be inscribed within the ark for the ages. THANK YOU!!!
Information about my plans for a potential launch in Lake Hiawatha in the spring:
In this pdf I will talk about the design and plans for the ark launch to get into the physics and logistics involved.
The Ark of the Anthropocene has already been launched in Lake Superior in September 2014. I hope to launch the ark again in early summer in Lake Hiawatha. I am planning to make some minor changes to the existing structure, I am adding an extension tube and adding a water carrying capacity. I plan to increase the amount of soil and increase its overall weight. I am doing all of this to reduce the buoyancy of the ark so that it requires less weight to submerge it. The ark will be submerged beneath the surface of the water and anchored to the lake bottom. This will allow the ark to remain in the water throughout the winter. Keeping it from freezing, being below the ice line. The ark is currently residing in my front yard a few blocks away.. This spring I plan to refurbish the interior, removing and saving the existing ecosystem. in order to do some additional sealing, and some work on the interior. I plan to alter the shape of the aperture at the bottom of the ark. I plan to extend the entrance tube upward about three feet. I will do this by building upon the existing rebar structure and extending the concrete tube. This will create more space that can hold soil. The base of the new tube will have holes to allow water to penetrate that area. The lower part inside the ark will have sand, gravel and stones at the bottom where water will come in from the lake. The Ark will be anchored by its three pick points with chain and attached to an anchor weight. The Ark will be secured to the lake bottom by the anchor. The Ark will be submerged approximately 36″ below the surface of the water. This will allow the ark to remain in the water year round. Yet still be visible from the surface in summer. Deep enough to be out of the way of a canoe or boat passing over.
This is a cutaway view of the ark as it will be in the spring with extended entrance tube and increased soil volume:
The ark was then sealed with thoro-seal:
After floating successfully for 72 hours, the ark suffered some damage due to a hole that formed in the hardware. The cause is understood and can be remedied. The ark structure is undamaged.
Below, is a plan of where I hope to place the ark in Lake Hiawatha. The Ark could be launched via crane at the southeast corner of the lake, because of the shore’s proximity to deeper water. The Ark will then be towed in the water to the site for installation. When the destination is reached weights will be added to the ark to submerge it in place. The red lines extending from the circled sites represent the 12volt power cords, which have a range of just under 100 feet. On land could be placed an array of solar panels. Using 12 volt electricity is sufficient and is no risk. These will power the light inside the ark. If we choose to place the ark near the Park Building I also have a wireless camera to monitor the interior. Which could be viewed from inside the park building.
My plan is to submerge the Ark in water that is about 15 feet deep.