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Baile Oakes
A Question of Balance, Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997

Baile Oaks   A Question of Balance, detail showing a snake, Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997
Baile Oaks   A Question of Balance, detail of creatures, Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997
Baile Oaks   A Question of Balance, 15th Century human population,Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997
Baile Oaks   A Question of Balance, detail of humans on top, Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997
Baile Oaks   A Question of Balance, Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA, 1997
Baile Oakes

A Question of Balance

Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara County, CA

"Sometimes, one of the first steps of healing is to diagnose the dis-ease and come to understand the cause of the imbalance in the system. A Question of Balance addresses the problem of the decimation of bio-diversity in the eco-system caused by the population explosion of our specie. My challenge with this project was to create a sculpture that speaks to this imbalance in a visual, non-didactic manner. I want someone viewing the form to feel the ecological imbalance that we are creating. We are in the midst of the greatest species extinction since the time of the dinosaurs and we do not understand nor care about the outcome of our actions.

In order to make the message as simple and direct as possible, I took one verifiable fact: "Today, the human specie and our domestic animals take up 95% of the gross weight of land based vertebrates on the planet." One end of the sculpture speaks to the recent past, probably the 15th century before the colonial expansion of Europe and the industrial revolution. The base of the triangle is firmly supporting its mass. Most of the its area, 95%, is dedicated to images of other land based vertebrates. Humankind and our domestic animals take up only 5% of the gross weight of these vertebrates. The fact that human icons take up the apex of the triangle does not address the widely held belief that we are at the top of the evolutionary tree. It merely works for the illustration that the sculpture is addressing.

The length of the sculpture represents the time line leading to the present. Over this length the stable triangular cross section transforms into a very unstable inverted triangle with 95% of its mass representing the human specie. The weight of this mass is compressing the remaining 5% of wildlife into a very small volume.This small amount of bio-diversity literally and figuratively supports our lives and lifestyles.

How much more pressure can we put on the other natural systems of the Earth before this vital support system fails?

A healthy life is a question of maintaining balance. My hope with this sculpture is to have people feel the weight of our presence on the natural life cycle and hopefully question the wisdom of the present relationship that we have created.

It all comes down to a question of balance."

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