Path of Human Evolution

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Client: Ayuntamiento de Burgos

Location: Museum of Human Evolution, Spain

Completion date: 2010

Artwork budget: $240,000

Project Team

Artist

Casto Solano

C SOLANO SL

Architect

JAVIER LA CALLE

Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Burgos

Overview

PATH OF HUMAN EVOLUTION / 1500 x 400 x 700cm / Stainless steel and bronze / No dyes or paints used whatsoever / Museum of Human Evolution, Burgos, Spain / 2010. The brief was for a permanent artwork to celebrate human evolution, to adorn the exterior plaza of a public museum. The piece had to clearly encapsulate scientific and evolutionary values of the museum, whilst providing an inclusive meeting point; a space for congregation, contemplation, reflection and play. It had to be appropriate for adults and children alike, and serve as an iconic gateway to the Museum of Human Evolution.

Goals

Considering the lineal temporal quality of evolution, and the particular need in this case to produce an artwork that would be open to and encourage public interaction, the idea of a path was established. A path, moreover, that would recall echoes of the footfalls of our ancestors as they travelled around the world, exploring and settling; making new paths and evolving with every step. The path is be defined by a series of striding steel structures, increasing in size and representing our growth and development as a species. They leave the plaza completely open to pedestrian and visual transits, whilst providing an interactive installation that people can approach, touch, and walk along; whatever their level of mobility. The smooth steel surfaces invite touch, and their mirrored finishes bring light, kinesis and colour to the plaza.

Within them we find a human encounter. Two bronze figures were born; a palaeolithic father and an anthropocene son; span the generations of human history, and walk together towards the future. Two different and identical human beings, succinctly pointing to the link that binds one person to another. Our common ancestor and the common future that binds us, in spite of our differences.

Process

Path of Human Evolution was shortlisted by a professional jury and subsequently won a public vote to become selected as the winning design for the space. The project was subsequently realised in consensus with the city council and a team of local architects. We feel that it is this combination of elements that has made this sculpture a particular success; the proximity of a liminal, abstract structure with a warm figurative centre; all open to exploration by the public. The principal challenge was in ensuring that the design was perfectly balanced, and that the elements cohabited in just the right manner; fitting with the textures and architectural forms of the plaza to create one, unified space rather than a space with a sculpture on top. This was achieved via Casto’s dedication to the modelling process, and his enormous experience in working to design sculptures the public realm, as well as via close collaboration with the space’s commissioning body and local engineering and architectural teams, who were in all cases vital to the project's success and a pleasure to work with.