Welcome to my coverage of Arca, a collaborative between myself, Max Pointner, and Paul Vermeesch for Mike Doyle's "Beautiful Lego 2: Dark" contest. Arca features three themes: Cultivation, Consummation, and Corruption. Enjoy!
The Story The planet has become bare. What once was a land of towering forests, expansive grasslands, and thick jungles is now nothing more than a rocky sphere orbiting a star. It was the darkness, seeping out of the planet’s core, which harkened back a time of emptiness, a time before color, movement, life. Yet the Inhabitants of the planet were prepared. As the surface of the planet was cast into destruction, they erected a new structure, a pyramid on which to found new cities, and in which to sustain life. Built high on the apex of the tallest mountain, it had little contact with the ground, and was designed to withstand the corrupting darkness. Protruding from the sides of this monument were many cubes of glass, each containing a garden of lush grasses, verdurous plants, and drooping vines. The Inhabitants lived on the top of their edifice, constructing cities of skyscrapers, streams, garden towers, generators, and monorails. All that was necessary to sustain life on the now barren planet was housed within this citadel, and the Inhabitants remained there for many years.
Yet darkness finds a way. The Inhabitants had designed their citadel to keep out all chaos, all contaminants, even to defy time’s destructive power. They did not realize that the threat they faced was not the absence of life, but an entity in itself, hungrily swallowing all it encountered. Seeping up through the rock, it struck the base of the edifice, crept up its central core, and ate away at the life it contained, shattering glass gardens, toppling towers of civilization, and squeezing the walls into that elemental shape: the cube.
Arca was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the ziggurat of exotic plants built by King Nebuchadnezzar for one of his homesick foreign wives. Here, instead of a typical ziggurat, the structure points downward, held only by a small support on a bare rock. The structure itself is unnamed, and the title “Arca” refers to the build as a whole. “Arca” is the Latin word for box, and it specifically refers to the black cubes of the dark power, not the gardens. “Arca” is related to the Latin word for “hidden” and usually refers to a chest or sealed box hiding something within it. This is in direct contrast with the trans clear garden cubes, the contents of which are showcased. To put the irony plainly, that which contained and displayed the work and prize of the civilization has come to dominate the focus of the build.
An Arca divided against itself cannot stand.
So how do three different builders from two different states successfully collaborate on a single, extremely detailed and structurally improbable build? Let me tell you, it took five months of tedious measuring, adjusting, constructing, shipping, reenforcing, remeasuring, readjusting, and reconstructing.
When Paul first approached Max and me with news of Mike Doyle’s “Beautiful Lego 2: Dark” contest, we all agreed that a collaborative was necessary. Yet with a cue word as simple as “Dark”, no ideas for a creation popped up immediately. Finally, on a brief Skype chat, Paul said, “I’ve always wanted to experiment with the hanging gardens of Babylon concept.” After a sketching out the idea, Max said, “Let’s turn it upside down!” I looked at them glumly and said, “That doesn’t look very dark to me. Let’s have it turning into black cubes.” The idea of a pastoral yet civilized paradise decaying into black cubes culminated in the final concept of Arca.
And of course we had to show you the gargantuan scale of this unwieldy project! You don't believe it?! Well come and see Arca at Brickworld 2014 to confirm your doubts! And yes, those are bananas. (Left to right: Max, Ian, Paul)
@Noel: Actually Noel, Paul did all of the photography and editing. Perhaps leave a comment on his page. I know he uses some pretty fancy equipment. Thanks for your comment! I loved having you as a buddy again this year!