Aaron Marx


Genesis is inspired by the historical significance of the Mississippi River on the development of the city of Minneapolis, and seeks to highlight and complement the continued work of city staff to improve our connection to the river.

This sculpture is derived from LIDAR data (laser range sensing, similar to RADAR) from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Scanned as part of the Minnesota Elevation Mapping Project, it represents a snapshot of Minneapolis captured in 2011 showing topography, built structures, and the natural environment. Developed through a process of reverse engineering, this sculpture was made by taking cross sections of the data model, and represents a 1:40 scale map of the Saint Anthony Falls area of the Mississippi River, the birthplace of Minneapolis.

Materially, this work is interested in ideas of sustainability and reuse. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, at the time this artwork was created, “Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by Emerald Ash Borer. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.” Considering this problem, this work is made from reclaimed urban Ash trees infested by the Emerald Ash Borer that were slated to go to the landfill.

With that, this artwork is connected to past, present, and future through real time data transformation. Inspired by images of the water flowing over the falls, reflections off the river water, and dappled light through the tree canopy, the work contains thousands of lights designed to change seasonally and shift in response to hourly changes of the river volume by connecting to live data from the United States Geological Survey.