2015 | United States | Documentary,Fiction,Experimental,Data Visualization

The Math Behind the McKnelly Megalith

  • 2 mins
  • Director | Matter Design

This film is currently not available.   

McKnelly MegalithCarving starting around 1100 A.D., the Moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) weigh up to 82 tons apiece. When Dutch explorers discovered this pacific island in 1722, they wondered at these megalithic figures, asking the inhabitants how their ancestors possibly moved the statues from quarry to site. The Rapanui explained that their ancestors didn’t move the Moai; rather, the Moai walked themselves. It wasn’t until 2012 that Archaeolgist Carl Lipo discovered and proved that the Moai were indeed transported upright, bringing new meaning to the assumed folklore that the statues ‘walked themselves’.

Megalithic civilizations held tremendous knowledge surrounding the deceivingly simple task of moving heavy objects. Much of this knowledge has been lost to us from the past. What if we could learn from this past knowledge to inform contemporary practice with the tool of gravity? This project mines, extracts, and experiments with this knowledge to test what applications and resonance it holds with contemporary digital practice. As an experiment, a sixteen-foot tall megalith is designed, computed, and constructed to walk horizontally and stand vertically with little effort.

In dedication to Steve & Rendy McKnelly.

math engineering art history geometry mechanics