In a remote valley of Utah’s Great Basin Desert, Holt’s massive Sun Tunnels looms along the horizon, visible from over a mile away. The four concrete structures are arranged in a cross formation, positioned precisely to frame the sun as it rises and sets during the summer and winter solstices. Small holes are configured in the concrete to cast projections of constellations along the tunnels’ interior; Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn materialize out of sunlight, their patterns illuminated upon the viewer inside.
Drawing for Positioning of Holes in the Perseus Constellation for "Sun Tunnels"
As the name suggests, this is Holt’s plan for the holes that were to perforate one of the concrete tunnels, as proxy for the Perseus constellation, in her landmark earthwork, Sun Tunnels. In selecting the constellations for each tunnel, Holt required that the stars be of different magnitudes, with enough stars in each constellation to encompass the top half of the tunnel. She wanted to ensure the presence of a few star holes at eye level, to allow for views from both inside and outside the tunnel. The constellation is a figure both fixed and ephemeral; it locates the viewer in place and time, yet its projection moves with the cycle of the Earth.