Human Time vs. Geological Time

Xavier Cortada, “The Markers,” (South Pole), 2007 -- see

Xavier Cortada, “The Markers,” (South Pole), 2007 — see

We’ve spent some time at this confab talking about human time vs. Geological time.  Here’s a 2007 piece where I explore the topic…

The 150,000-Year Journey

Miami artist Xavier Cortada planted a replica of a mangrove seedling in the South Pole.*  The mangrove “seedling” was be planted on the 3 km thick glacial ice sheet that blankets the South Pole.

Embedded in the moving glacier, the “seedling” is now begin sliding downhill (9.9 meters every year) in the direction of the Weddell Sea, 1,400 km away.   The “seedling” has thus begun its 150,000 year journey towards the seashore, where it can eventually (theoretically) set its roots.


150k-yr-seedling-sThe 150,000 Year Journey uses the terrain of the South Pole to address a sociological concern of the artist: the travails of an immigrant’s journey — the displacement, the solitude, the struggle to simply integrate oneself into society.

In a more universal way, the 150,000 Year Journey explores humankind as it evolves through time.

It will take almost 150,000 years for this art piece to be completed. What will our world look like then? Will humans still be focused on race and ethnicity by the time this mangrove seedling lands in the sea? Will our world be dramatically different, will the polar caps have melted? How much will such melting shorten the journey?

Through the 150,000 Year Journey, the artist also invites viewers to reflect on our role as humans on this planet. Juxtaposing Antarctic time frames with human time frames (see The Markers project) reaffirms the notion that we are simply custodians of the planet who should learn to live in harmony with nature.


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