Mysterious object appears in Utah desert: Art installation or the work of aliens?

The metallic slab could have been undiscovered for more than a decade

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A mysterious object has been discovered in the canyons of Utah, leading to theories about its origin. Could it be an art installation, or the work of aliens?

The pillar, made from either steel or metal, was spotted by the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) from a helicopter as they were circling the area with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to count bighorn sheep last week. The officers then inspected the "monolith", as they refer to it, estimating it at about 10 to 12 feet high and firmly planted into the ground. In other words, it was not dropped from above.

"I'm assuming it's some new wave artist, or somebody who is just a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan," helicopter pilot Bret Hutchings told Utah news station KSL 5 TV.

While the object does bring to mind the alien monolith that appears in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic, it also resembles the minimalist sculptures of American artist John McCracken, who once lived in nearby New Mexico. He passed away in 2011, which, if the theory were true, would mean that the work has been left undiscovered for almost a decade.

In a statement to The Art Newspaper, the artist's gallerist David Zwirner stated that the work was not by McCracken, but proposed it might be by another artist paying homage to him. Later on, however, Zwirner seemed to change his mind, telling The New York Times that "the gallery is divided on this," adding "I believe this is definitely by John".

So far, no artists have claimed ownership of the work.

"It is illegal to install structures or art without authorisation on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you're from," DPS said in a statement on Monday.

epa08839417 A handout photo made available by the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) shows wildlife officials inspecting a monolith discovered in southeastern Utah, USA, 18 November 2020 (issued 24 November 2020). According to a statement by DPS, Utah officials have discovered a monolith of unknown origin in the wild.  EPA/Utah Department of Public Safety HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Wildlife officials inspecting a mysterious monolith discovered in southeastern Utah. EPA

Officials have not disclosed the monolith's exact location, to avoid the curious from flocking to the site. "It is in a very remote area and if individuals were to attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility they may become stranded and require rescue," Utah DPS said.

Nevertheless, users on Reddit have already shared exact coordinates that were determined after comparing the rock formations in the provided photos and online maps. Some have also come up with theories as to how the object was placed into the ground, suggesting the use of a rock saw and screws to keep it cemented.

Currently, the monolith remains planted in the red rock canyons as the US Bureau of Land Management decides on pursuing an in-depth investigation into the matter.