Using height as a measure of time, each step you go up takes you back 2.5 million years. The polished terrazzo slab at ground level represents the present day, showing Australia and Antarctica as they are now. The elevated viewing deck, shows them joined as Gondwanaland, 125 million years ago: the time of the polar dinosaurs. The terrazzo steps and landings on the way up, hint at layers of rock, bones and sediment that have been laid down, This is what fossil hunters look for around the nearby coast.
DNA is a molecular time machine that connects us to the dinosaurs and to our mammalian ancestors. It is the only thing that connects all known life forms. The artwork’s central column, and the integral geometry, show the profound connection between DNA and the Fibonacci numbers. An integrated lighting design articulates genetic data from across all species, using programmable RGBW lights.
The polar dinosaurs of Victoria’s Bass Coast are of global, scientific significance. The diversity of dinosaurs reveals how science defines a dinosaur, how dinosaurs are related, how they are reconstructed from tiny bone fragments, and how they piece provide a picture of where dinosaurs lived and behaved. Of course, dinosaurs didn’t live alone. Fossils of an array of other animal have been discovered along the Bass Coast including turtles, the oldest and most diverse Australian mammal fossils and Koolasuchus cleelandi, the last of a group of giant amphibians – Victoria’s fossil emblem.
"As soon as I read the artist brief, I wanted to look back in time, out over the rift valley that separated Australia and Antarctica 125 million years ago."
A collaboration between landscape architect Kirstine Wallis and artist David Murphy, the landscape will act as a canvas for an image of DNA created using local plant species, 25 billion times larger than life. The familiar double helix will be five metres across, outlined in native grasses. Four different shrubs will represent the four molecules – A, T, G, C – that create all genetic code. Saltbush, Kangaroo Grass and others, become colours and textures in a huge image of the extraordinary molecular time machine that connects humanity to the dinosaurs – DNA.
Five plinths, each dedicated to a different dinosaur or extinct animal, will be set amongst the DNA-inspired landscape. More like ground-based terrazzo paintings, ‘the herd’ will be one step above path- level and edged in corten, showing a life-sized outline of each of these extinct animals. Each animal carries bronze replicas of the fossils palaeontologists used to identify the animal. These bronze fossils are fixed in their anatomically correct positions, highlighting the science of palaeontology, and these animals are defined and reconstructed.
Nearby, bronze sculptures will show what palaeontologists believe they may looked. Using the latest knowledge and research from the most qualified scientists in the country, combined with 3D modelling techniques, each sculpture will be the most accurate, life-like, small-scale representation possible.