Fossilization normally takes millions of years, but artist Austin Houldsworth has created a machine that he hopes will accelerate that process enough to take only a few months. The piece is called Two Million & 1AD and it’s located in Tatton Park in Cheshire, England.
The machine replicates the natural process of Petrification, which is a form of fossilisation where organic matter is replaced with minerals. It does this by saturating the water with an extremely high quantity of minerals in the form of Calcium and Magnesium. A small quantity of sulphuric acid has been added to the tank containing the limestone; this replicates the natural acidity of rain water which reacts with the alkaline limestone and forms Calcium Sulphate (commonly known as gypsum), which is a very water soluble mineral (compared with Calcium carbonate).
Members of the public pump the water from the two tanks at the bottom to the header tank located at the top of the machine. This water then slowly trickles through the containers which house the pineapple and Partridge – and during the Biennial (hopefully) will transform the organic objects into stone.
– (Austin Houldsworth, we make money not art)
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