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Online Sleuth Finds Mystery Monolith

And theories are popping up that might explain it
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2020 6:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Artists? Aliens? Prop masters? A monolith discovered in the middle of the Utah desert has spawned all kinds of theories—including the notion that a film crew left it behind, the Smithsonian reports. So let's start with that one:

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  • After a Reddit user spotted the monolith on Google Earth, near Dead Horse Point State Park, Gizmodo looked up productions that shot there in recent years: They include HBO's Westworld (starting in 2016), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), 127 Hours (2010), and John Carter (2012). But a spokeswoman for the Utah Film Commission tells the New York Times that "to our knowledge, the monolith ... is not from a film production."
  • Art lovers compared it to the work of John McCracken (1934-2011), a US sculptor who often worked on the West Coast. A gallery representing McCracken confirms that it's his style—"a narrow, monochromatic, rectangular board"—but a gallery rep tells Art Newspaper that it's more likely "a work by a fellow artist paying homage" to McCracken. A Utah official tells the Times that "it's somebody's art installation, or an attempt at that," adding that "for all we know it's been installed since the '40s and '50s."
  • If not art? Gizmodo muses that Stanley Kubrick might have secretly shot part of 2001: A Space Odyssey there, or that it was aliens ("We really wish it was aliens," the outlet reports. "Just come and take us away, aliens").
  • Other notions bubbled up on a Utah Highway Patrol Facebook post about the find—including Wi-Fi router, piece of the Death Star, "a box full of missing votes," or a "hand sanitizer station for the sheep."
  • Regardless, it's probably illegal. The Guardian reports that authorization is required to install art or structures on federally managed public lands—and that's true "no matter what planet you are from," says Utah's Department of Public Safety.
(Read more strange stuff stories.)

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