The Big Dig
July 13, 2011
The Big Dig by Topotek1, at the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo. All Photos: Geng Wang
You were seven, it was summer, and you were bored to tears. Somehow you got the idea in your head that you could dig a tunnel to China. You grab a spade or shovel (of hard plastic) and begin to dig. You’re determined, and nothing—not the limitations of your physical strength, hunger, networks of piping, dangerous levels of air pressure, lack of oxygen, the earth’s molten core, or, if you managed to get past all that, the fact that you’d end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean and should have started in Argentina—will keep you from digging. But after 30 minutes, but what seems like hours, night fall or dinner time precludes the conclusion of your journey.
“The Big Dig” is designed as the emerging point of your trans-national travel. More than a hole in a two dimensional surface, the installation is a suctioned chasm, where space is curved and stressed. Existing site features, such as nearby trees, were untouched, reinforcing the conceit that you’ve just surfaced into an arcadian garden. A discrete audio system plays recorded sounds from the other side of the world—“cows from the pampas of Argentinas, commuters rushing among transit through New York City, the maritime life of Stockholm, and layers of history so audible among the streets of Berlin”—transporting visitors far from China to Western Europe or South America.
A thin glass barrier encircles the hole and prevents the visitor from falling into the abyss and, presumably, ending up in an unknown land.
See our past coverage of the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo here.