HOST ANALOG

1991 • Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR
Stainless steel irrigation, basalt, old growth (windfall) logs, city water, porcelain enamel signage. 17' x 90' x 30'.

Host Analog is comprised of eight segments of a Douglas fir tree that lived for 600 years in the wilderness to the west of Wy'east Mountain, now also known as Mount Hood, in the watershed of the Bull Run River. The tree, felled and bucked, was deemed unsuitable for lumber sometime in the 1960s and was left to decay in the forest. In 1990, it was rediscovered in the Bull Run Watershed (Portland's water source since 1895). Host Analog continues its relationship with the Bull Run as it is misted daily with water brought to the City from its original home. It is an urban nurse log, serving to exemplify a living laboratory of diversity, adaptability and resilience.

When the segmented tree was transported to the plaza of the Oregon Convention Center and declared a work of art called Host Analog, it was already acting as a nurse log, carrying with it a native ecosystem. Over time, the forest landscape growing on Host Analog has been diversified with urban plants self-seeding and taking root, enabling a unique laboratory and creating an aesthetic that confronts the notion of what is "natural" with the elements of chance and change. This dynamic artwork will never be considered complete, as it will continually evolve.

From its inception, the intent has been for Host Analog, as sculpture, to define its own living system as the coexistence of diverse life forms create a dynamic equilibrium. It is imperative that little to no intervention be imposed upon this laboratory environment as it develops a new normal, its own "manifest destiny." Ultimately, this landscape may become a model of an adapting ecosystem, as we adjust in a world of climate change.

Oregon State Convention Center during redesign, 2020.

Bull Run Reservoir #1, completed 1929. Low water levels reveal stumps from dam impoundment zone. Photo: Joe Freeman Jr.

Installing Host Analog at Oregon Convention Center, 1991. Photo: B. Simpson.

The Wood Sawyers, Jean-Francois Millet, 1850.

Bucked and abandoned, Douglas fir rediscovered in the Bull Run Watershed, 1990. Photo: B. Simpson.

Host Analog prologue. A select timeline during the life of this tree. Photo: B. Simpson.

Original pipe to bring water to the City of Portand being delivered to the Bull Run Watershed, 1890s. Photo: Portland Water Bureau.

Host Analog drinking fountain. Water passing our lips, flows over fingerprint pattern to nurse logs. Photo: B. Simpson.

Fed by Bull Run water, misting fountain nurtures seedlings. Photo: B. Simpson.

Artist's daughter provides scale for Host Analog growth over decades. Photos: B. Simpson.

Evolution of dynamically displaced Host Analog, 1991-2000. Photo: B. Simpson.

Scrub-Jays convening on Host Analog store an acorn for another day's lunch. If forgotten, a new tree is planted to be nurtured by the Bull Run Watershed, 2008. Photo: B. Simpson / Todd Metten.

Northwest logging crew convenes for a meal after a day of tree harvesting work (possibly discussing what the future holds for this land), 1926. Photo: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, CKK0587.

Portlanders convene inside Oregon Convention Center for benefit dinner and auction to nurture civic and environmental efforts, 2018. Photo: Andrea Lonas.

An old growth tree straddles the phantom of a decomposed host log. Artist's daughter provides scale and symbolizes humans as parts of and participants in ecosystems. Photo: B. Simpson.

Watershed Reach, 2002. Art installation: Global Warming Workshop with high school students held at Lewis and Clark College. Image on left of Mount Hood snow pack melt. On right, confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, to where the snow melt flows. Photos: B. Simpson.