how to win a sand castle contest (or, zen and the art of sand castles)

As I prepare to head into the desert for a week of art and fertility, it feels appropriate to linger for a moment on the subject of sand. Add the other item I won’t touch again this summer – the ocean – and we delve into the subtle art of sand castles.

A few weeks back, I had a fantastic experience with a three-year-old when we manifested a turtle named “Tippy” from millions of grains on the shores of Montauk, NY. If you have never made a sand turtle with a three-year-old, I highly recommend it. The minutes slip away while you reclaim childhood fun.

There’s been a brew-ha-ha recently over the first 3D printing of parts for a gun. It’s no secret people use technology to create destruction, but some are using the cutting edge technology to create art. Israeli sculptor Eyal Gever harnesses 3D printing to freeze frame the abstract beauty of tsunamis, bus crashes and oil spills. Now, a team of designers calling themselves The Stone Spray Project are on the beach creating mind-blowing delicate sand castles.

Stone Spray Project from Stone Spray on Vimeo.

Until the day when everyone has a personalized 3D sand castle printer, shovels and buckets will have to do. Just this past weekend, Creative Time launched its inaugural sand castle building contest. Artists erected precise architectural structures and detailed sculptures of human forms, but the winners of the competition came from a crew whose mission in life is to have fun cultivate community. Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw built a living water fountain, integrating friends and themselves into the sandy tower.

The impermanence of sand sculptures, along with the playful joy that arises from creating these temporal works of art, offers a meditation on fun and life. Sure, 3D technology is cool and may one day replicate a life-sized castle, but the feel of sand between toes and fingers reinforces the here and now while recapturing one’s childhood.

Realizing this unique paradoxical gift is when you truly win the sand castle contest.

Sources: NYTimes.com, PC World

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2 comments

  1. Amy Gorrek · August 22, 2012

    Great blog post! — Hmmm, Art and Fertility. (Yes!) Now go make a burning man baby!

    • dumsumla · August 22, 2012

      Ha, ha. Yes, we’ll see how that fertility manifests. Looking forward to it.

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