The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) has found a curious metal monolith that looks like it belongs in a science fiction film planted in a remote part of the state's desert. So far no one has an explanation for why, how, or even how long it has been there. It's probably an obscure art installation, but everyone is very aware of the resemblance to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and wondering if 2020 still has some cards to play.
The discovery was made when a DPS helicopter crew were counting bighorn sheep on a joint mission with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The sheep get into some very remote and inaccessible places and the crew was flying far into the desert when one spotted something that definitely didn't belong.
Upon landing the crew found a metal object almost the height of one crew member standing on another's shoulders. Although it might look like it dropped from a passing plane, it is embedded in the ground in a way that suggests deliberate effort.
Although revealing the location might be an effective way to revive a tourist industry hard-hit by Covid, for the moment the DPS are keeping the coordinates secret. It's clear, however, from the helicopter footage that this would be an immensely hard location to get to other than by air. Whoever installed this object really wanted it there. If it is an art piece, someone went to a great amount of effort and was willing to wait an unpredictable amount of time before anyone found their masterpiece.
Although shiny, rather than black, the object and its location bear an eerie, and presumably intentional, resemblance to the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi classic, which kickstarts humanity's rise by teaching apes how to use tools. A lack of opposable thumbs might make bighorn sheep less promising targets for alien intervention, but perhaps we should be shouldn't be too reliant on stereotypes of sheep as placid followers, just in case.
The find would have to be one of the most exciting, and certainly most unexpected, things to happen in Utah for a while. Local TV station KSL5TV didn't fluff their chance, even if they mixed their science fiction references.
The Guardian noted the resemblance to sculptures made by John McCracken, which he described as “existing between two worlds”. Although McCracken lived for some time in Santa Fe, among the nearest cities to southern Utah, he died in 2011, so if this is something he left behind it has been there for some time.
We think the final word should go to Utah's DWR, without whom the object might never have been discovered.
Update: Reddit users believe they have found the location on Google Maps using the flight time and direction of the helicopter and the rock types to identify they general area and then honing in. It appears it has been there since about 2016.