Some 1500 years ago, the people of the Nazca region of southern Peru etched large-scale artworks into the desert-floor which continue to intrigue and mystify us in the 21st century. And now, echoing that wonderful creation, a South American artist is etching a new landscape art creation – or rather, he’s getting a robot to do it for him:
By drawing a gigantic map of a city onto the desert, the project not only seeks to draw attention to this facts, but questions our very concept of city, specially in regards to its environment. Lima is a sort of negation of the desert. Our model and ideal of city is very occidental, and does not adapt very well to its context. The desert is seen a kind of non-place, not a part of our living environment. In this sense, there’s a sort of irony in using a robot to draw a city onto the desert, as if it would be drawing it on the surface of Mars (exploring the outer space for the possibility of urban life).
I’m also fascinated by the Nasca people and their lines (200 BC – 600 AD). Studying theories about them, I found their notion of desert as ritual space, and therefore an expansion of their living space, to be in sharp contrast to our notion today. Some see the Nasca lines as cult to fertility and life in the desert, trying to communicate beyond. In this sense, Nasca City is kind of a cult to urban life in the desert today, not communicating beyond, but within our society…
Derteano’s robotic creation took 5 days, and he thinks it will last for a number of years (though it’s already being obscured by wind-blown debris). It’s unlikely though that he’ll challenge the 1500-year-age of the Nazca Lines, which have existed this long due to the extremely stable, windless climate of the plateau they inhabit.