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One of the strange aspects of the internet's ever-growing presence in our lives is the way we carve trails into the online landscape. Visiting the same sites regularly mimics the feeling of a neighborhood; a group of familiar spaces whose imagined proximity increases through frequency of visits. Many functional sites recreate features of a neighborhood, like banks and stores, while others provide the security of being close to home. Wikipedia's list of the world's tallest statues is, if I can stretch this analogy a little further, equivalent to the corner bodega in my online geography, while their colossal statues list is the liquor store down the street. I certainly spend more time at these pages than I do at C-Town Town, my local supermarket.

I return to these lists partly to discover strange monuments that I hope to visit someday. New Yorkers may be dismayed to learn that, when it comes to female colossi, the Statue of Liberty is comparatively puny. The amazonian Mother Motherland is nearly twice Liberty's height.

Virgen de la Paz, Venezuela. Two feet taller than Liberty, at 153 feet.

Guanyin of Mount Xiqiao, China.

Mother Motherland, Ukraine.

Mother Motherland, Russia. 379 feet tall!

The world's tallest statues are primarily Buddhas and Redeemer-type Christs (the tallest in the world is a 420 foot Buddha in China), interspersed with massive manifestations of Americana.

Golden Driller, Oklahoma.

But the allure of roadside attractions is not what keeps me coming back to this website. Confronting an overwhelming physical presence in the cramped, flattened space of the internet creates a weird disconnect. Sculpture on this scale is dizzying in person, and imagining its size from afar induces conceptual vertigo. These tiny pictures of towering figures stretch the mind almost painfully. The list of the world's tallest statues collapses two strange spatial experiences into one: the rambling progression of the internet and the mental strain of confronting the gigantic. The claustrophobic browser window augments the anxiety of the scale disconnect. The statues list is both an anchor to the physical world and a reminder of the bizarre phenomenology of living online.

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Maurice Merleau Ponty


Visual Arts
Pre 20th Century Art