Where are the monoliths coming from? Theories explained

Bruno Cooke December 4, 2020
Where are the monoliths coming from? Theories explained

Where are the monoliths coming from? As if 2020 couldn’t get any creepier, the past few weeks have been marked by a series of monoliths appearing in random locations around the globe. First Utah, then Romania, and now California. Who’s behind this – artists, film crews, or is it aliens?

A timeline of monoliths: from Utah to Piatra Neamt

It took just 48 hours for Internet sleuths to track down the first mysterious monolith, in Utah. The first civilian on the scene, David Surber documented his arrival to the location via Instagram.

Since then, the monolith mystery has deepened – and migrated. According to local newspaper reports, another “oddity of 2020” mysteriously appeared on the plateau of Bâtca Doamnei, near the archeological site of the old Dacian fortress, Petrodava, overlooking the Romanian city of Piatra Neamt.

As reported by NPR, Piatra Neamt’s mayor Andrei Carabelea took the discovery in his stride, saying:

“My guess is that some alien, cheeky and terrible teenagers left home with their parents’ UFO and started planting metal monoliths around the world. First in Utah and then at Piatra Neamt… I am honoured that they chose our city.”

From Romania to California: Pine Mountain

The Atascadero News, a local newspaper in California’s Atascadero, reported on 2 December the discovery of a third monolith. This one, writes the Guardian, is “a little wobbly”. Otherwise, it is much the same as its forebears. 

All three have since disappeared – the Utah, Romania and California monoliths are no longer with us.

Photographer Ross Bernards documented the removal of Utah’s monolith. It took four men just eight minutes to topple, dismantle and remove the structure. Their parting words were: “Leave no trace”.

Journalist Robert Iosub, of the Ziar Piatra Neamt local newspaper, reportedly told Reuters: “The 2.8 metre (9ft) tall structure disappeared overnight as quietly as it was erected.”

At time of writing, the California structure is still in place. But the question remains: where are these monoliths coming from?

Where are the monoliths coming from?

Is it stunt artists? John McCracken? Aliens? Here are the prevailing theories.

Artist community The Most Famous Artist have been sharing lots of Instagram images of monoliths over the last 12 hours, indicating they might have had something to do with the monoliths’ appearance. These include digital imaging of the structure and a shiny metal panel being transported on a trolley.

The New York Times, meanwhile, has suggested that the late John McCracken is responsible for the monoliths. The minimalist sculptor, whose penchant for making science fiction-inspired, geometric, metallic objects and structures, is certainly a contender.

As the NYT reports, the David Zwirner gallery, which exhibits McCracken’s work and represents his estate, has claimed it is a “bona fide McCracken”. 

The artist’s son has also described the monoliths as “something that he would do… He was inspired by the idea of alien visitors leaving objects that resembled his work, or that his work resembled. This discovery of a monolith piece – that’s very much in line with his artistic vision.”

However, if it was him, he did it without so much as a word to a friend.

The Romanian monolith poses somewhat less of a conundrum. According to Ziar Piatra Neamt journalist Robert Iosub, “An unidentified person, apparently a bad local welder, made it”. Its rustic, homemade quality apparently belied its origins.

“Now all that remains is just a small hole covered by rocky soil.”

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.