Stretching a quarter mile down Laguna Beach, Phillip K. Smith III‘s art installation 1/4 Mile Arc created a glittering spectacle along the sand. 250 stainless steel posts, polished to a mirrored sheen, were spaced evenly in a gentle arc along the coastline. Over a period of 4 days, curious beach goers and art lovers discovered how the light and color of sand and surf illuminated the poles.
The work was commissioned by the Laguna Art Museum for its Art & Nature Festival at the beginning of November 2016. Known for his evocative installations, Smith worked with the forces of nature by placing his posts just beyond the tide line. Lapped by waves, but never engulfed, they stood tall as guardians of the beach. It’s an amorphous work, changing effect with the passing of time and depending on the perspective. Depending on where one stood, it was possible to line up the mirrors into one large reflection. Conversely, from above the posts acted as stately sundials, their shadows creating an even gradient across the milky sand.
1/4 Mile Arc, with its spacing, is both a barrier and entryway. It delineates a specific space just enough to embrace those within its borders, but is open enough to welcome visitors. The artist describes it as “a compression and expansion of reflection, light, and shadow,” with the environment activated through movement and change.