The number pi interests me. I’m also interested in producing something that has the possibility of lasting a very long time. Reasons for pi being incredibly interesting are well documented elsewhere. Reasons for my interest in survivable artifacts are something I will describe here. This is about art and is not practical or useful – it’s just something I like.
I wanted to create something that, a million years from now, might be recognized as an artifact of intelligence. The number pi should be eternally recognizable and stone can be extremely stable so I produce natural stone sculptures marked with a pattern of holes that represent the number pi.There will be a time when almost nothing we make will exist due to erosion and other forms of decomposition. Wood rots, plastics and concrete disintegrates, glass flows slowly as a liquid, and metals corrode. At some point, nothing will remain from any existing building, device, or artwork.
The question of how to record information that can be read in the distant future is not new. Messages were carefully designed to include on NASA’s Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft for the potential benefit of aliens, possibly millions of years from now. These crafts are now drifting toward the stars at approximately 25,000 miles per hour. They carry metal plaques with diagrams that depict generally how we appear and where we are located. The plaques will eventually be degraded by impacts from interstellar dust and larger debris, but they could remain intact for eons before they are drawn into a star.
Artifacts most likely to exist 100 million years from now are those made of stone. Common stones with low intrinsic value are not likely to be reshaped and repurposed and stone is durable and chemically stable. Unlike plaques on spacecraft, it’s possible for stones on Earth to become shielded from erosion. So, a representation of pi in stone makes an unusually recognizable and potentially survivable artifact of intelligence.
I fill the holes in the pieces I make now with strontium aluminate mixed with epoxy. The epoxy will help protect the holes for an indefinite period and the strontium aluminate glows for several hours after absorption of light.
Digits of pi are represented by holes using the type of copyrighted pattern shown below. This pattern represents the first 25 digits of pi:
Use of number symbols would be a more efficient representation than a series of holes. However, simple patterns of holes will be more long lasting since the finer details of symbols are susceptible to erosion. Holes make a more pleasing pattern as well. The patterns are arranged to form a square or rectangle to contrast with geometries of nature.
You can view and purchase any pieces currently for sale at this link:
Shipping is free via USPS Priority Mail to any of the United States of America. International shipping is not available.