When you think of aquatic architecture, it’s easy to immediately imagine over-the-top designs with state-of-the-art technology and hefty price tags. After all, aquatic architects love to go all out with their grandiose ideas of floating homes and luxury water purifiers. But don’t let the million-dollar floating skyscrapers fool you — beautiful aquascapes can cost as little as $0.
Yep, it’s true! The perfect example of low budget aquascaping, of finding beauty in everyday designs, is the world famous Spiral Jetty. Sculptor Robert Smithson, the man behind the Spiral Jetty, actually hired a construction company to haul 6,650 tons of rock and earth into the lake for the construction, so I can’t honestly say that the Spiral Jetty cost nothing to make. Just overlook that detail for now and focus on the comparative simplicity of this art piece. It didn’t cost nearly as much to make as other massive projects, but its beauty nonetheless trumps its million-dollar rivals.
The spiral is situated on the banks of the Great Salt Lake, but it’s not always visible. Smithson intentionally built the spiral at a specific elevation so that it would be submerged some of the time, depending on the weather. The spiral actually spent close to three decades underwater before reemerging in 2002. The spiral has vanished and reappeared several more times since then, and it is currently baking under the Utah sun. If you happen to fly into Utah anytime soon, you’d better drop by to see it while you still have the chance!
I mean that in every sense of the word. Not only is the spiral only visible part of the time, but it is also destined for destruction. Eventually, the lake will grind the rock into sands and wash away the mud until it’s nothing more than an oddly shaped lump on the shore. I think that’s one of the messages that Smithson was trying to send with his sculpture: nature always wins in the end.
You could recreate Smithson’s art piece if you had a large enough body of water and a few bulldozers full of rocks. You’d probably need permission to modify the layout of a publicly-owned body of water, but if it’s small enough and private enough (a small pond that exists solely on your property, for example), then you could pretty much modify it however you want.
But anyways, let’s get back to the topic of money. The main reason why I’m highlighting Smithson’s spiral is to remind art lovers out there that you can create your own artwork. Theoretically, one man with a shovel and a pile of rocks could probably recreate a much smaller version of Spiral Jetty over the course of a weekend — a perfect do-it-yourself project for the hands-on art lovers out there. That’s not everybody’s cup of tea, I realize — most people would rather just hire a team of professionals to do all of the heavy lifting for them.
Try to keep an open mind with your aquascape. There are a million different ways that you can represent aquatic artwork: custom aquariums, floating gardens, manmade waterfalls, massive ice sculptures, and even your very own spiral jetty!