In case you have been living under a rock or in stasis like Walt Disney under Disneyland in Anaheim, the Earth is being visited by some either very artsy or extraterrestrial inclined individuals who are leaving behind some very futuristic-esque structures littering the US, Romania, Netherlands and now the UK. Known as ‘monoliths’, these strange, 10-foot tall metal blocks have been popping up in isolated areas across the world and have everyone in a tizzy.

Now, I understand that we’re in the midst of a pandemic and very close to finishing the year. I personally am looking forward to the vaccinations and getting my life back on track. But I am also kind of concerned. I’m sure all of us who grew up watching Signs, Close Encounters and Ancient Aliens are wondering if this is 2020’s final plot twist?

I hope not.

But, before I go off on a tangent and sound like a stranger danger commercial, I wish to dissect what’s happening. Is this an elaborate prank by Banksy (he’s always up to something) or even just a marketing campaign by Christopher Nolan or you know… aliens?

So let’s just put together the evidence and see what it points to, shall we?

The first sighting

 

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Last month, during a routine survey of bighorn sheep in Utah’s Red Rock country, the state wildlife agency discovered a 10-12 foot tall, three-sided metal monolith at the base of a canyon. Upon further investigation, there were no indications of how or when it appeared there or why it was installed so firmly into the canyon’s rocky floor.

How people around the world reacted

The monolith sightings served as a welcome reprieve for people of the world. There were lots of discourse over social media, which resulted in brands hopping in on the conversation. In true millennial fashion, there were loads of hilarious memes that had me laughing while I scrolled through my social media timelines.

That was, however, not the end of it – everything became much more interesting once Utah was joined by Romania, California, Netherlands, Isle of Wight and Warsaw. What made these unique were how different they were from the Utah monolith – some had swirls designed on it and the other had a clear mirror surface that gave off perfect reflections.

All this attention, however, took a turn for the left when an official announcement issued by the Utah Department of Public Safety on 23 November had a lot of us speculating whether the monolith was an art installation or a prank inspired by of Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. This proved to be a very popular theory due to how the appearance of an alien monolith in the film brings about a huge change in mankind’s evolution.

A few days later, the Federal Bureau of Land Management’s Utah office announced that the Red Rock Country monolith had been removed “by an unknown party”, with rocks left to mark the place where it had stood. The mystery was soon solved by a photographer and covered in the New York Times; the monolith was taken away to prevent people from crowding the area and preventing it from turning it into a super spreader area.

Who’s monolith is this?


While an art collective in Utah has come forward and claimed responsibility for the first one, in Europe however, no one has yet to come forward. Netizens are whispering, however, that this all could be attributed to the mysterious artist, political and social commentator Banksy. Some Redditors strongly believe it’s part of a marketing campaign in the lead-up to 2021.

What do we think?

I partly welcome this because it’s a reprieve from how exhausting life’s become because of the pandemic. I’ve always been fascinated by space and we are far from being alone in the galaxy. Whether this is actually first contact or second, depending on who you ask, or even an elaborate marketing campaign.

It’s just what we need to end the year with a bang! 

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Sharanya Paulraj

By Sharanya Paulraj

Editorial Fellow