Taylor Woods

Taylor Woods Photographer Blog

Taylor Woods is a Los Angeles-based destination wedding, commercial, and portrait photographer.

Kryptos


It's been interesting for me to reflect back on the last five months since coming to Los Angeles. I had no concept of the direction photography would take me. In all reality - as I was packing my car in North Carolina - I honestly anticipated spending the majority of my time waiting tables the first year or two in order to work on building Clothesline (waiting tables is not out of the question of course). 

I drove 34 straight hours from Arkansas to California in order to get here in time to interview with a sculpture conservation firm where my cousin and friend work (the time-lapse above is the first major installation we did together and interestingly, my first time-lapse experiment). Apparently - beyond the benefits of hiring me because of already established rapport with the team - my photography was a major draw for considering me over a number of other applicants, most with experience/ degrees in sculpture conservation. So, I'm immensely blessed to be 1. working, 2. working daily with art on interesting projects, 3. working with two of my best friends and 4. utilizing photography within the parameters of my job.

This sculpture above was designed by Jim Sanborn. There are a number of similar sculptures in this series titled Kryptos, most notably at CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. It's a relatively simple concept: three pieces of petrified wood stacked onto a concrete footprint and epoxied together in order to stabilize weight with two bronze wings (the wings at Langley are copper) grooved into the wood; putting it together is the challenge. Wood can petrify within 100 years (the process of organic material being replaced by minerals). This wood that we used was estimated to be between 100-250 million years old. It is incredibly dense stone now, and each piece weighs hundreds of pounds. Ensuring that they stand flush and stable with one another was a major challenge, which took the majority of two full days.

Once we secured the three pieces, we had to grind grooves along both sides in order for the bronze wings to sit flush. We then fastened bronze studs into the cement footprint to ensure that the structure wouldn't give in a windstorm or earthquake (these panels had been secured to a previous piece of petrified wood, which fell and shattered in a windstorm).

Throughout each panel are a series of characters, often repeating; there are roughly 1800 characters in all. The CIA originally commissioned Sanborn to design a sculpture utilizing a unique code. He prepared by researching different forms of codes and and then designed this: in actuality, there are four distinct codes within the panels, one in each of the four quadrants. He anticipated the four to be broken within months of the unveiling at Langley in 1990, but it wasn't until 2002 that 3 of the 4 were finally broken. To date, the final code is still not revealed. There's an interesting article from a 2005 Wired Magazine if you want to read more about it: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/01/66334?currentPage=all

This particular Kryptos is part of a private collection in Beverly Hills, CA.

Taylor Woods