It was only a matter of time before the mysterious monolith in Utah would attract curious visitors.
On Instagram, people have been sharing pictures of themselves with the three-sided metallic pillar. Some are posing in front of it, others have managed to make their way to the top of the structure. A dedicated Instagram page @utahmonolith, which published its first post four days ago, has been reposting the images.
The shiny structure made headlines earlier this month after it was discovered in the red canyons of Utah.
The state’s Department of Public Safety was circling the area by helicopter for its annual count of bighorn sheep when the pilots noticed the object, which they referred to as a "monolith".
Officers have estimated it 10 to 12 feet tall and have said that it appears firmly installed into the ground. "I'm assuming it's some new wave artist, or somebody who is just a big Space Odyssey fan," helicopter pilot Bret Hutchings told Utah news station KSL 5 TV.
Though the authorities did not release the monolith's location to avoid people from flocking to the remote area, Reddit users managed to track down the site by studying the rock formations and comparing them using online maps. The area where it is installed is public land, and there is now a dedicated subreddit to the monolith.
A report by the BBC names David Surber as the first visitor, who found the monolith 48 hours after news of its discovery. With the help of the information on Reddit, the former US Army infantry officer made his way to the location, after a six-hour drive. “I decided to go there because I was drawn to the fact that this object had been there for five years, hidden in nature,” Surber told the BBC.
On his visit, Surber discovered that the object is not magnetic, is made of three pieces riveted together, and has a hollow centre. “Is it solid?,” he says in an Instagram video. “Not solid. Sounds a little like a cardboard box.” He also claims that the monolith is made of aluminium.
Theories around the origin of the object abound, and the art world has presented its own speculations. Some have pointed out that the structure is similar to the work of American artist John McCracken, who creates minimalist sculptures and had an interest in sci-fi. His gallerist has since made conflicting statements about the matter, first telling The Art Newspaper that he did not think it was by McCracken, then telling The New York Times in a statement, "I believe this is definitely by John."
Another artist, Petecia Le Fawnhawk, was also named as the potential creator. Le Fawnhawk often installs surreal sculptures in various desert locations. However, the artist has since told Artnet that she "cannot claim this one".
Currently, the shiny monolith will remain in the canyon as no plans have been made to remove it.