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Footprints of History: Fireworks Projects for the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
The following excerpt is taken from: Cai Guo-Qiang: Hanging Out in the Museum. Taipei: Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2009, pg 109
Bigfoot’s Footprints: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 6
Cosmos/Universe: 20 Billion Years
Gunpowder: 200 kg
Primer Cord Fuse” 2,200 Meters
Total Length of Project: 2,000 Meters
Number of “Footprints:” 200
Size of Footprints: 2 Meters
Elapsed Time of Explosion: 20 Seconds
Site: The border between two nations
Method: A mold in the shape of Bigfoot’s footprint will be made. Paper footprints will be made by pouring paper pulp into a footprint-shaped mold. Some fireproof material will be put on the bottom of each footprint to prevent overburning. After the exhibition, all the footprints will be collected. Obtaining concurrent visas for the two countries where the project will be carried out will be one of the elements of the piece.
When humankind finally invents the hyper-speed vehicle, it will be able to catch up with the past and understand it. This leap will be more significant than going to the moon by spacecraft and bringing back some stones.
More important than the exploration of unknown space with physical inventions is the fact that humans are originally a part of universe – the human spirit was born at the time of the creation of the universe, and actually contains vivid memories of the event. Human consciousness can recall memories of the past, and therefore, at a deep level, it has insight into future human direction, potential and danger. The past, including memories of the origin of the universe, and the future can’t be received through physical entities or existing time and space. Only super-humanity is capable of traveling beyond light-speed without being limited by time and space.
With a series of gunpowder explorations covering 2,000 meters in 20 seconds, the footfalls of Bigfoot will stomp into the beyond. It will be a moment of a hyper-creature passing through our planet. Is it the Extraterrestrial or ourselves? The moment when the spirit is present, it will leave physical footprints on the border and will vanish beyond time and space.
When did humans start practicing the unfortunate custom of recognizing national borders? Along these lines, artificial creations that never originally existed, humans have most frequently used the gunpowder which is one result of civilization – and will continue to do so in the future. Every time gunpowder explodes on a border, war occurs and the nightmare is replayed.
The extraterrestrials ignore borders, and the will of super-humanity that lives within us sometimes exercises its fundamental power and also ignores boundaries. Everywhere on earth, there is a horizon that is common to all of humanity, but beyond this horizon, however, there is a place to which we must head through the collaboration of all humankind. It is where we swiftly came from and where we will return… the horizon of the universe.
Cai Guo-Qiang, 1990
These project notes and folding screens were created in 1990 and exhibited for the first time in early 1991 at the solo exhibition Primeval Fireball: The Project for Projects at P3 Art and Environment in Tokyo. Since then, it has been exhibited at seven other museums or galleries around the world.
Bigfoot’s Footprints began as a project to be carried out along the border between France and Germany, to be staged later, in 1994 along the Normandy coast as part of ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Allied landings. In 2004, the work was shown in Washington D.C. as part of the Traveler solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Finally, in 2008, 29 giant footprints appeared in the sky along the central axis of Beijing when the project was realized as part of the Opening Ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics.