Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Potential of Pop Paleosculpture

Everything Dinosaur reports that a traveling sculpture based on the brachiosaurid Ultrasauros is such a big hit at its current stop in Portsmouth that local citizens hope to convince the artists to bring it back to Portsmouth permanently. As Everything Dinosaur points out, Ultrasauros isn't considered valid anymore. But that seems to be part of the point of the sculpture, as reported by Culture 24. "By mistake, bones from brachiosaurus and supersaurus were put together to create the colossal Ultrasauros. Now the species is as redundant as the car industry in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." That last bit refers to the fact that Luna Park, as the sculpture is officially named, is made of old Yugo parts.

Here's a wonderfully meandering video made by Aspex Gallery, covering the opening reception from earlier this month.

Heather and Ivan Morison - Luna Park, 1 August 2010 from Aspex Gallery on Vimeo.

I don't know if Portsmouth will be able to obtain the statue permanently, but if not, I hope they don't give up. If it makes sense monetarily and there's enough popular desire, why not erect a paleosculpture of their own? With the University of Portsmouth so close, a giant pterosaur would be a natural fit. There are a few rather knowledgable individuals in the area, after all.

I couldn't help but apply this line of thinking to my local area in southern Indiana. I'd bet a lot of locals would love it if we had some paleosculptures of our own, something relevant to its natural history. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't complain if someone put up a big Triceratops. But it would be more fitting to pay tribute to the Cenozoic bestiary of Indiana, maybe with a big statue of Arctodus simus, the Giant Short-Faced Bear. Or going deeper, pulling inspiration from the Mississippian bedrock that created the local community via limestone quarries. How cool would it be to walk through a "forest" of giant crinoids? Most people would have a first impression that they were just odd, abstract sculptures. Then they'd learn the truth of how strange and wonderful the history of the local area is. And their lives would be changed... forever.

As a neat aside, the creators of the Ultrasauros are also behind an incredibly cool sculpture at Tatton Estate Park in the midlands, a fantastical "house" made of two conjoined domes called I am so sorry. Goodbye. I would definitely link to my own photos of it, but I am mysteriously unable to access Flickr from work.

As a second neat aside, while I was underwhelmed by the dinosaur t-shirts available at the Field Museum during my recent visit, I got a killer one featuring the Short-Faced Bear. Plus: Wearing a black t-shirt with a stark white skeletal reconstruction on it makes you feel like a bad ass. Minus: Jennie has decided that a great nickname for me is "___-faced Bear." You know, like "Sad-Faced Bear" or "Sleepy-Faced Bear."

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