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--Sculpture of the Blue Hole Lake. Seven feet (two meters).

--Spray foam insulation, reclaimed baling wire, calcium carbonate encasement by electrolysis.

A visitor to the Blue Hole Lake’s edge, after pausing for a moment, may breathe a sigh of relaxation. A swimmer jumping into the sixty-one degree Fahrenheit water generally gasps…gasps again…and then finally breaths out. The exhibit entitled “Exhale,” designed and built by Architect David James Hamby, provides a sense of the interior space of the lake and the feeling of rising bubbles experienced eighty feet under water.

Blue Hole formed as a natural sinkhole or cenote (suh-noh-tee, from the Mayan word for “well”) resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock exposing groundwater below. In the case of this cenote the groundwater pressure causes a flowing artesian well which fills the hole to the surface and flows out into a stream. The stream provides irrigation for local alfalfa fields. While the water has a high mineral content (“hard water”), the fast flowing underground spring is clean. It is believed that the water comes from the Ogallala Aquifer.

The artist’s study models are the first three-dimensional representations of Blue Hole. The sculpture on exhibit takes its geometry from an impressionistic composite of interior conditions before and after the underwater rock slide in the 1990s. A number of recognizable features of the submerged surfaces have been exaggerated for visibility. Side openings in the lake walls (some of unknown depth) are fabricated as channels extending outward from the sculpture and the inlet source of the waters can be seen as a tubular opening at the lowest point.

The jagged rock sinkhole opened in the earth eons ago. The void filled with water. Divers deep in the lake now look up to see their exhaled breaths filling the water with air bubbles. As these bubbles rise they break apart and recombine forming ascending pockets of atmospheric gases. Twisted tie-wire and reclaimed baling-wire from alfalfa bales form the installation’s large round bubble-like loops from webs and coils which in turn twist together with small knots evoking the fractal formations of the small, medium, and large bubble distribution filling the water’s edges as human divers’ exhalations float upward.

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