Ghost Timbre is the audio component that supports the public artwork Ghost Log, a monumental sized public sculpture by artist Mary Coss at Dickman Mill Park. Ghost Log will be sited on a restored antique artifact, the head saw from the original Dickman Lumber Mill on Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront. The sound component is an imperative piece of storytelling. It fleshes out the relationship of the people in the community to the local lumber industry.
The sculpture itself is a 40’ long corten steel form with a laser cut skin resembling cedar bark. An 8’ wheel gear at the park end of the log makes witness to the enormous scale and contributes to a deeper understanding of the machinery and the history. The mechanical structural log transforms to the organic as it twists and turns, first to form a basket weave midway and then culminates in cedar boughs at the water’s edge. The basket form honors the tribal lands of the area. The cedar basket motif appears again in the signage. A small bronze sculpture in the shape of a cedar basket holds the interpretive engraved signage for the artwork.
The Ghost Log creates a network of reflection on the water at night. Lit within, the shadows reflect onto the water surface. The log is embedded with words to support the historical connection to the mill, the tribe, cedar, and the logging industry. The sound aids this ethereal visual quality and flushes out the stories and sounds of the park and its history.
The sound component mixes historical sounds that would have been heard at the mill and its natural surroundings with interviews that speak to its history. This includes: stories from the Dickman family (previously recorded by Storycorp); interviews of Puyallup elders, documentation of a cedar gathering, tribal blessings and song; sound from a working vintage mill; worker interviews; logs splashing in water; sounds of the park’s wetland and native birds singing. The soundtrack is accessed at the waterfront park and permanently hosted on the Metro Parks Tacoma website. On site, a QR code and link to the virtual sound is posted on interpretive signage. The link provides access to the audio on your phone at the pier, or later at home.