Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Utah Sun Tunnels Summer Solstice 2014

Summer Solstice happened spectacularly at the remote* Utah Sun Tunnels last weekend.

Artist, Nancy Holdt conceptualized this fascinating piece of land art back in the early seventies while researching ways to model the intensity of the sun in the desert. Her idea "to bring the sky down to earth" became a reality just south of the old ghost town of Lucin, Utah... the outskirts of the middle of nowhere. 

In this vast alkali valley, one can't help but bow to the sovereignty of the powerful sun reigning overhead. There is no natural shade anywhere. The Sun Tunnels are now part of the landscape where the annual solar pageant is manifest as a working model that emphasizes the movement and affectation of the Sun.

Most any other day of the year, the Utah Sun Tunnels are bleak and solitary. The 45 mile dirt road excursion keeps most people away, and from Salt Lake City, it takes more than two hours just to get to where the dirt road begins. But on the Solstices, especially Summer Solstice, groups of humans gather to appreciate this grand promenade of light and shadow.

Aesthetically, the 18' long, 9' diameter concrete tubes present an irresistible playground. I observed that a young boy brought some Hot Wheels cars to play with. I complemented the lad on his forethought. I'm definitely taking Hot Wheels next time I go.

Before long, a couple hundred people had gathered for a short tribute to Sun Tunnels' artist, Nancy Holdt, who died earlier this year. Then everyone moved into position to experience the Solstice Sun going down** in perfect alignment with two of the tunnels. 
Some folks took the high ground.

While everyone was doing the peek at the sun through the tubes dance, I was filming them on video. This is a sped up glimpse of that film. 

The next morning I got up early to shoot 3D pictures of the tubes just before, during and after sunrise. The following pictures are a sampling of those 3D images. 

The gathering for the sunrise was much smaller than the crowd at sunset the night before. Those of us who were there experienced an inspiring sunrise... and as usual, the Sun Tunnels performed their function perfectly. Thanks Nancy!


* 41° 18' 12.76" N  113° 51' 49.83" W - Elev. 4389

** like a big bald head

1 comment:

krmf said...

Very interesting. I've never heard about it. I especially liked the video and your sunrise pictures.