Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Building the Sculpture

It could be built in a variety of different ways. One would be with the detritus of our consumer capitalism that create the destruction of the planet - abandoned cars and fridges, bits of machinery, discarded computers etc. This would be like the 1974 Cadillac Ranch sculpture in Texas. The reasons against this option were: health and safety if the site were to be open to the public; it would look like a junk yard rather than an art work.and because of environmental degradation.

A second option was to go for tethered artificial rocks made from polyurethane or polyethylene. Here there are concerns about the carbon footprint involved in their manufacture.

The best option would be to use slag remains of a coal mine. This would be similar to the Lady of The North project in Northumberland, England. However the aim is entirely different. There the aim is to produce something beautiful from the coal mine remnants. The aim here is the opposite. I want a vision that is initially dark and bleak, the heaps of black coal casting shadows over the landscape. However over the years the aim would be to allow nature to slowly reclaim the site, weeds and flowers spouting out from among the skeleton remains. This would be a metaphor for the Gaia principle in action. The bones would also be reminiscent of tumuli, ancient burial mounds found throughout the world and in this country back as back as the Neolithic Age.

Project Overview

As Lovelock’s Gaia principle, that the earth is a living organism suggests, humans will have to go if they continue to imperil its existence through global warming/climate change, unfettered growth,  the struggle for decreasing water supplies, environmental and species destruction etc..

The idea is that the sculpture should be huge - as a statement of the relative amount of damage that humans have done compared to other species. The size would also be important as a environmental political statement to awaken people to the impending disaster of unchecked human activity.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half shrunk, a shattered visage lies …
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Shelley, ‘Ozymandais'

The sculpture would be in the tradition of Land Art following in the shadows of people like Robert Smithson, Harriet Feigenbaum, Denis Oppenheim and Michael Heizer in America, Doris Bloom and William Kentridge in South Africa and Richard Long in England.

An 800x200 metres body is 2,613 feet long and 656 feet wide.  The human skeleton has 270 bones. However this is remains of an incomplete skeleton so it is only necessary to show the bones such as the femur and tibia, ribs, radius, cranium etc, which provide an outline relief of the body shape. Each bone would be approximately three feet high. The sculpture would be twice as long as the Lady of the North which involved shifting 1.5 million tons of materials. Therefore if the project was located near to a mine this would reduce the carbon footprint involved in the moving of the slag heaps.

The scale of the project would mean that there would need to be an elevated viewing platform in its centre.

I see the sculpture as having an educational component in which local schools could be involved in producing a booklet for visitors writing about subjects such as global warming and environmental damage.

Ideally it would also be in an area of economic deprivation being able to provide some employment around the building and maintenance of the site as well as attracting some tourist revenue.

Possible other stakeholders include NGOs like Greenpeace and WWF, local environmental groups, local councils etc.

Welcome to the project

500 years on - the end...

As global warming continues to threaten our existence there is a need for novel ways to alert people to the dangers we all face. The idea is to create with maximum participation a large sculpture - 800 metres long x 250 metres wide - of a human skeleton - representing all that will be left in 500 years time unless we take preventive action now.

I'd like for as many interested people on board with this project as possible. I have been in discussion with a number of people about possible locations worldwide for the sculpture. Please feel free to comment, add ideas, talk about possible sites, stakeholders etc.