Located near the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt, Desert Breath is a massive, double-spiral piece land art dug into the sands of the Sahara desert. Created by the D.A.ST. Arteam back in 1995, the collaborative effort of installation artist Danae Stratou, industrial designer Alexandra Stratou, and architect Stella Constantinides, took two years to complete in 1997.
–. The structure, which covers an area of about one million square feet, consists of 89 protruding cones. The sand dug out from the depressed cones, was then used to create protruding cones, resulting in the displacement of 280,000 square feet of sand. A 30-meter pool of water lies at the center of the art piece.
The choice of the spiral functions on two levels: First, it symbolizes and coexists with the infinity of the desert. The spiral can theoretically expand forever, but it has a definite point of departure — the source of its energy. Secondly, each cone is created according to its distance from the center point — to form a logarithmic spiral.
So as the viewer begins to walk from the outside to the center, the cones begin to diminish in scale. It happens so gradually, that it’s almost unnoticeable. It’s only revealed when, suddenly, the viewer gets the sensation that they’ve shifted in scale, growing larger as they walk. In this way, we begin to understand the relation between the human scale and that of the desert.
Take a look at the video at 1:19 to see how they constructed this beautiful work of art.
Message from the Creators
The project is rooted in our common desire to work in the desert. In our mind’s eye the desert was a place where one experiences infinity. We were addressing the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind. The point of departure was the conical form, the natural formation of the sand as a material. It is a site-specific work that grows out of our perception of the site its self. Located between the sea and a body of mountains at the point where the immensity of the sea meets the immensity of the desert. The work functions on two different levels in terms of view point: from above as a visual image; from the ground a physical experience while walking the spiral pathway. Desert Breath still exists becoming through its slow disintegration, an instrument to measure the passage of time.
While natural erosion has started to revert it back to its original desert plain, Desert Breath still remains visible some 17 years after its completion — even from satellite images taken from Google Earth.
Desert Breath on Google Earth
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