“The Glassy Surface of a Lake” (formerly titled “Net”) is inspired by a passage in Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” a meditation on the profound purity of an utterly still lake. In the passage, the famous naturalist writer inverts his viewpoint to envision the lake hovering overhead so “you could walk right under it to the opposite hills.”
Xu has re-created that vision in the museum: the suspended lake takes the form of the very letters of Thoreau’s passage. Thousands of wire-linked aluminum letters hover at the top of the three-story museum court and, in the middle of the “lake,” letters tumble down to the first floor.
The Glassy Surface of a Lake
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