Back in the '80's we had a phrase for practical jokes:
"Turning the screw", that is turning the screw in someone's
head enough to make them think "What the hell...?!?!?"
The practical joke was nothing mean spirited or vicious at
all, just odd enough to inspire that "What the hell...?!?!?"
and make people wonder, push their heads "outside the box".
But in May of 1986, the internet was barely more than a bunch
of bulletin board systems (BBS's) and the World Wide Web was
still four years away, so there was no "turning the screw" on
hundreds or thousands of people via YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter,
We'd just have to go with a
Seeing a fun, strange movie would always stir the creative
craziness. To say we were influenced by movie is a stretch,
but incited to create something different is just about spot
on. It might have happened because we had just seen Terry
Gilliam's insanely fun movie "Brazil", and had just had the
screws turned in our heads a bit that night.
At any rate, there is a madness to the method of an ARGH
brainstorming session. When you have collaborators who are
tuned to nearly the very same frequency and amplitude ideas
don't have to come in a straight line. One of us can come
up with something that seemed to come completely out of left
field, but the other will understand and follow the (il)logic
So when one of us brought up Governors State University's
sculpture park, it was natural for us to bat around a few
ideas for additional sculptures - after all, a handful of
them already made more than a few people wonder "What the
hell...?!?!?" (Including the pair of us.)
The idea began to crystallize... A large public sculpture
park... What would really happen if they suddenly had one
more sculpture? What would they do? One no one had commissioned?
One they hadn't bought? Would they notice at all?
Then Gary suggested a monolith. No. The Monolith - as in
the alien structure from "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Simple. Stark. Recognizable.