Artist's massive 340-ton boulder making its way to Los Angeles art museum
March 7, 2012
If nothing else, large-scale works artist Michael Heizer gets major points for persistence (and thinking big). After over 40 years of searching for the right rock, the Berkeley, California, native's dream of creating a massive installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is finally beginning to materialize. His monolith of choice, a monstrous 340-ton (308.44 mt), 21.6 ft (6.6 m) high behemoth, is slowly making its way to the museum where it'll eventually perch above a 456 ft (139 m) trench as the centerpiece in his upcoming work Levitated Mass.
Courageous visitors to quake-prone Los Angeles will actually be able to walk beneath the boulder, if they dare. A specially designed trailer, built around the rock at the quarry, is now ferrying the boulder to LACMA at 8 mph (13 km/h) and is scheduled to arrive on March 11th after an eleven day trip.
In what is estimated to be the largest stone-moving project since ancient Egyptian times, U.S. transportation company Emmert International was enlisted for the mammoth task. Their engineers spent months researching a circuitous route that avoided overpasses and roads too weak to handle the crushing weight of the rock. Their 295 ft long (90 m) rig is powered by two 600 hp tractors and has several pivot points along its length alog with 22 radio-controlled dollies to help negotiate curves. Along the way, utility crews have been dismantling overhead power lines and low-hanging traffic signals to give clearance to the vehicle.
Upon learning that the project is costing LACMA somewhere between US$5-10 million (funded entirely by private philanthropic donations), it's only natural for one to wonder why so much money is being spent to move a two storey rock over a hundred miles. Indeed, moving massive objects into special or sacred places has been a common theme throughout history.
"There's a very ancient tradition in cultures, ranging from the Egyptians to the Olmec in Mexico, of moving monoliths to mark a place," said LACMA director Michael Govan. "And I think the idea is that LACMA's campus really is a center for Los Angeles, a multi-cultural center, and this rock will mark it very physically in a very weighty, timeless and light manner." Levitated Mass is scheduled to open to the public in May or June, 2012.
The videos below, from Next Media Animation and LACMA, give a better sense of the project's scale:
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