S   P   I   R   E   S

Boulder, CO. 2018

Spires are clusters of perforated steel with illuminated cores of light.  After dusk, these pillars call to occupants of the City to explore their story. It’s been said these artifacts were unearthed in Boulder, Colorado during an excavation – somehow naturally emitting brilliant light from the moment they were discovered. 

40.0159° N, 105.2787° W

40.0159° N, 105.2787° W

The dig

The mountains of Colorado are well known for producing elements such as iron, uranium, titanium, tellurium and mithril. The least known and most precious being mithril. In 2016, a GIS map was built to follow an epigenetic mithril deposit trail in Colorado. The trail, cut through the Jurassic-age Morrison Formation and intensified at a site just outside of Boulder. A drilling operation was established in search of this rare earth metal. You see, mithril resembles silver, yet it's many times stronger and much lighter than steel and is well sought after for the production of nanowire batteries. Shortly after the dig began, the core drill clipped something hard enough to cause a rotational seizure. At only at a depth of 28 feet, a decision was made to excavate. It didn't take long for a bright light to appear through the soil. The mysterious form was only partially uncovered, yet the three objects were too bright to bear without proper eye protection.  

No one touched them for weeks, struck in awe and filled with curiosity around how the inanimate objects were shining so brightly. At daybreak everyday, each of the forms would start to grind. On one, flour was grinding and shaking out. On another, salt was making and pouring from the perforations, and on the third, coins were being forged and would occasionally rattle out. Drawing international press, the objects underwent a small-scale archaeological study. After only four days of research, it was determined these had to be pieces of the long lost Sampo.

The Sampo

As the story is told - long, long ago, the Mistress of Pohjola offered her daughter’s hand in marriage. In exchange, a local metal-smith named Ilmarinen forged three objects, one that produced salt, the other coins, and the third, flour. He called it the Sampo and it was said to bring its possessor great fortune and prosperity. Pohjola lived happily for decades until one day, she returned home and the Sampo had vanished. It went missing for centuries and many thought it had been squandered or hidden away in a vault. 

The Forging of the Sampo - The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 476496

The Forging of the Sampo - The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 476496

Statue of Ilmarinen at the Student House in Helsinki

Statue of Ilmarinen at the Student House in Helsinki

From Sampo to spires

Having come into a deeper understanding of the objects, the fortunate engineers determined it was time to extract them. As they drew near, they felt heavy vibrations in the air. The light was intense and it was tough for them to decipher how close they actually were. Upon resting their hands on the cool steel, the vibrations grew more intense. One of the engineers tapped the side with curiosity and the light retreated, almost fully and then grew more intense. With each tap, the light from within the objects changed so forcefully that it frightened the engineers. The taps also evoked deeper grinding as flour, salt, and money came pouring out. They sat with the Sampo for hours in amazement, surrounded in a scene of swirling colors and intense vibrations.

The engineers grew curious about how the flour was being produced, where the salt was coming from, and how these objects kept forging money. They decided to very carefully open the structures up. In order to do so, they had to gently pry back the lids. As they peered in, it was like trying to look directly at the sun. They tried everything, but no lens or diffuser would properly shield the light. Reaching within, they felt nothing, but heard a sputtering grind followed by a clunk. All of a sudden, the machines stopped vibrating and nothing was being produced. The light was still vibrant, but subdued. Much to the engineer’s dismay, they could not repair the Sampo.

Today, the Sampo is called Spires. They travel with the engineers, providing great fortune and prosperity to the communities they serve. From time to time a light grinding sound will echo and stale salt and flour shakes loose from the core. Today, the only vibrations felt from the old Sampo are the palpitations of human fingers on the surface of each spire. This has been found to illicit certain magical and mystical effects of color and brightness.

To this day, the mystical powers of the Sampo are still unknown in their entirety.