The Problem with the Utah Monolith

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Simply the different day, a tall metallic “monolith” was found in the Utah desert. From what I’ve realized, this tower of shiny metallic was positioned in a really out-of-the-way location someday in 2016 (based mostly on its sudden look in Google Earth photos in that timeframe.) In the ensuing week, this object has created fairly a public stir and generated much more theories about its origin.

The first hypothesis is about its apparent similarity with the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Area Odyssey. Apart from this object being chrome steel, triangular, and a very totally different dimension colour and texture, yeah, it’s precisely the identical. As an allusion or an homage, you can also make an argument, however as a replica of the well-known sentinel, no.

After which there are those that expound on the 2001 principle and name it an alien artifact. That will draw viewers and clicks, however once more, no. It’s clearly of terrestrial origin and made nicely inside the technique of present Earth science and metallurgy strategies. Shut examination reveals the panels are held in place by rivets- hardly extraterrestrial know-how! There’s nothing mysterious about the making (and even the set up) of this object.

The third- and I really feel most reasonable- clarification of that is as a publicity stunt by both an artist or a marketer. If that’s the case, this individual or group is fairly far-sighted and affected person. Ready years for the joke to unfold reveals an excessive amount of restraint…. on this case, it suits nicely with the idea. This — both joke, artwork set up, or advertising ploy — is nicely executed and did its job: it created a ton of public curiosity. Kudos for a job nicely finished.

Their placement doesn’t look unintentional both. It’s completely positioned in an alcove of rock. When the solar hits it proper, it’s simply stunning.

There’s just one downside….

This was BLM land.

Bordering a Nationwide Park.

Having simply returned from the website, I can inform you the space is a few of the most stunning I’ve seen in Utah. The most wonderful factor about the Utah Monolith is NOT the monolith, it’s the drive in. Simply merely spectacular landscapes. And prior to now, largely unvisited.

So why is that this an issue? As a result of the perpetrators — and I do consider that’s the appropriate time period! — used cement saws to drill the base of the monolith into the rock at the set up. They used cement or glue to safe the base into the rock. In impact — no, not in impact, surely — they’ve torn up, vandalized, and defaced our nationwide lands.

Earlier than you begin calling me a Karen, hear me out. My overriding concern right here is that BLM lands belong to ALL of us (in the United States not less than), and are there for all of us to make use of and to get pleasure from. Meaning unmolested. However there are oil drilling platforms on BLM land chances are you’ll say. And sure, that is true, and many people really feel these additionally blight the panorama. However these are additionally permitted. The individuals who use BLM land for no matter objective have gone by a allowing course of, hearings, and their makes use of have been discovered to be authorized, and inside the scope dictated by regulation.

That’s not the case right here. I might don’t have any downside if this have been on non-public land, or this “artist” took out permits, went by the course of, and was accepted. However that doesn’t appear to be the case.

This individual (or extra probably group) selected their very own to deface our public lands. And it doesn’t matter what you consider the set up, reducing into rock with a cement noticed is defacing our lands. Interval, full cease. They’re stealing from ALL of us for his or her private publicity stunt. And this I discover extremely offensive.

However that is just some minor cuts in a rock in a spot nobody goes to you would possibly suppose. Positive. Or possibly you say, “Dave, consider how a lot pleasure this monolith has given; absolutely that’s value a few minor cuts in the rock nobody cares about.”

In case you are of the opinion that the ends justify the means right here, inform me precisely the place that line is. Can you chop into rock in an space that solely sees 10 or fewer guests a month? Or is it now permissible to make use of cement to repair a overseas object into public lands if it’ll generate 100,000 clicks on The Verge’s web site? Or can you alter public lands simply just because your intent is creative? Or since you need to?

Merely: no. The line is you don’t deface public property. Ever. Interval. This placement of a monolith into the rock isn’t any totally different than lighting a hearth beneath Delicate Arch (as Michael Fatali did in 2000), or toppling a hoodoo in Goblin Valley (like the “good” Boy Scouts Glenn Tuck Taylor and David Benjamin Hall did in 2013). That the result’s “artwork” isn’t any acceptable excuse for vandalism of public lands. Definitely not one I’m keen to think about or tolerate. Simply as we don’t tolerate what Fatali, Taylor, and Corridor did, we should always put our foot down right here. Vandalization in any method or type of our public lands is an offense to each American and ought to be one thing none of us ever excuse or sanction.

This “monolith” doesn’t belong right here on public lands. Whether or not you suppose it’s an inventive expression or an eyesore, it was positioned on public land with out permission or consent and concerned reducing right into a nationwide useful resource in a lot the identical as graffiti or the aforementioned vandalisms. It ought to be handled as such. With no allow, and with none official sanction, it ought to be eliminated instantly. If and when the perps are discovered, they need to face court docket motion. In any other case, what message are we sending?

If there may be any good on this, I might say it’s that it obtained me out exploring this a part of Utah I’ve up to now not seen. And it’s INCREDIBLE. As breathtaking as many different elements of Canyonlands Nationwide Park (if no more so). However this doesn’t excuse disfiguring public lands. Am I a Karen? Perhaps. You possibly can name me that, and you may disagree with me. However I simply can not see how one can have any line besides NONE in relation to discussing how a lot we permit guests to vandalize our public lands.


Editor’s observe: The monolith was removed by an unknown party on the night of November 27th and subsequently changed with a pyramid.

“Whereas the monolith has higher craftsmanship than graffiti, that is nonetheless vandalism,” the Utah Division of Heritage & Arts tells KSL. “It irreversibly altered the pure atmosphere on public lands. Whereas the monolith is fascinating, we can not condone vandalism of any kind.”


About the creator: Dave Koch is a industrial and panorama photographer who has been named Utah’s Better of State Nature Photographer the final 4 years operating. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. Mr. Koch avidly seeks to guard our wilderness and is a Neighborhood Advocate for the Southwest area of Nature First. You’ll find extra of his work on his website.





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