PSA: The 2020 monolith is a dead meme. You can stop putting them up now. Please

Some of us actually have work to do


Updated You'd hope that a gaggle of racist crackpots storming a mountain to push over an innocent sculpture would be the end of it, but no. The cheeky 2020 monolith continues to sprout globally.

Alas, we've committed so let's get this out the way because I'm sure I have more useful work to be doing today, possibly to do with enterprise tech.

Since the fall of the California obelisk to MAGA conspiracy loons at the end of last week, at least three more have popped up in this drawn-out game of whack-a-mole – one on the shores of the UK's Isle of Wight, one in Sulzbach near Frankfurt, Germany, and one in a Netherlands nature reserve.

The initial erection in Utah captured imaginations due to its remote location, mysterious appearance, and a passing resemblance to the alien structure from iconic sci-fi flick 2001: A Space Odyssey. Theories ran wild as to the monolith's provenance, though curmudgeon Reg readers narrowed it down to three distinct possibilities – that it was a Bill Gates 5G Illuminati coronavirus mind control beacon, probably an ad for something really dull, or someone with too much money and time on their hands.

It didn't last long, and our poll respondents were close – it's an art project. Banksy ripoff collective The Most Famous Artist claimed responsibility for the US structures over the weekend in an interview with Mashable.

"I am not able to say much because of legalities of the original installation," leader Matty Mo told the website. "I can say we are well known for stunts of this nature and at this time we are offering authentic art objects through monoliths-as-a-service. I cannot issue additional images at this time but I can promise more on this in the coming days and weeks."

The group was said to now be selling the monoliths for $45,000 a pop, though there's a chance this could also be another, unrelated stunt to cash in on the phenomenon.

However, the Isle of Wight obelisk is of far higher quality than its American counterparts, boasting a "really reflective" surface, according to its discoverer, 29-year-old Tom Dunford. It is rather handsome and its true origins are still unknown, though we must assume that international installations (one was raised then razed in Romania too) are the work of other artsy-fartsy tricksters "memeing" on the theme.

In Sulzbach, there was also a concerted effort to stomp on alien theories. "It is not from outer space. The wooden structure from the inside is very earthly," said one local official, joking: "It could be a prop from the film A Space Odyssey. That would be obvious, but we haven't checked it yet." He added: "It could also be a billboard. But we still have to get to the bottom of the mystery... Rumors are already circulating on Facebook. There are quite interesting theories."

In the Netherlands, there was reluctance to let go of the paranormal angle. Thijs de Jong told Omrop Fryslân: "It was a big shiny metal thing. It stands a bit in the heath. I walked up to it, but there was nothing to be seen around the monolith. Just as if it was placed from above. It is certainly there with two people or more."

If the monoliths were immediately and obviously constructed from unobtainium that defied our understanding of material science then, I don't know, started to sprout various bizarre instruments or even little green men, maybe, just maybe, this story would have legs.

But it's an art project, and not even a good one at that. Crop circles for the coronavirus age when we are all just about stir-crazy enough to let our minds wander. So please stop putting them up. Cheers. ®

Updated to add

Yes, it's definitely an art project.


Keep Reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021