The spinning "Babel Tower" in the Iranian desert

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There's a miniature "Babel Tower" spinning in Iran's desert that reflects the landscape in its rotating mirrored boxes. According to the creators of the installation, it's a contemporary interpretation of the biblical Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel

According to the Old Testament, humanity united to build a city and tower that reaches the heavens... (By bAGKOdJfvfAhYQ at Google Cultural Institute zoom level Scaled down from second-highest, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22178101)

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The unique installation, designed by Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad and Italian designer Gugo Torelli, is placed in varying locations in the desert of Iran, and is programmed to rotate constantly. The creators of the tower say the mirrored boxes spinning independently from each other are a contemporary interpretation of the biblical Tower of Babel.

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While rotating, the tower reflects different parts of the landscape, and due to the differences between the individual boxes, it shows the landscapes from different angles at the same time - depending on the direction of the boxes.

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The movement of the tower can be controlled, which makes it possible for the boxes to spin around simultaneously, or with different speed, patterns and angle. While the movement can be programmed precisely, the speed is limited - but only because the creators of the installation preferred the idea of slower spins.

Shirin Abedinirad had already used mirrors in her previous works, which also provide a rich symbolism in the case of the tower. The box on the top has a mirror that reflects the sky, thus we can associate to men's desire to build the tower up to the skies, while the movements of the boxes that seem to break the landscape apart may remind us of the scattering of the languages and the chaos that happened when people were no longer able to communicate with each other.

According to the story written in the Old Testament, humanity united to build a city and tower that reaches the heavens, but because God confounded their languages, they no longer could understand each other, and their plan to build the tall structure failed.

Anita Diós

June 2018