The Letters of Utrecht
The Letters of Utrecht (Template:Lang-nl) form an endless poem in the stones of a street in the center of the Dutch city of Utrecht. Every Saturday at 13:00, the next letter is hewn into the next cobblestone. It takes several years to publish an average sentence. Every few years another member of Utrechts' guild of poets extends the poem. The poem was started on June 2, 2012 and Utrecht's mayor, Aleid Wolfsen, contributed the first letter hewn at the opening. To predate the beginning of the poem to January 1, 2000, the city works department had previously laid 648 stones with the letters of the contributions of five poets into the street. Since the opening, characters have been hewn into subsequent stones every Saturday and since early 2013 Mark Boog has continued the poem as its sixth poet.. Stones with year numbers mark the planned route and turn the growing line of letters into a meter of time. If the citizens continue to fund the making of stones for long enough, the line of poem will itself draw the letters U and T on the map of the city, and future citizens can decide on the future route beyond the year 2350. A future there will be, but it is unknown: the poet keeps the continuation of the poem beyond the most recently published letter secret.
The monument is expressly intended for the benefit of future people. The effort is driven by a not-for-profit foundation, Stichting Letters van Utrecht and hopes to generate excess funds for practical good causes. The concept for the Letters of Utrecht was originally inspired by the efforts of Danny Hillis and the Long Now Foundation to build a 10,000 Year Clock to promote long term thinking. The Long Now Foundation had contributed a stone cut from the Sierra Diablo Mountain Range in Texas where the 10,000 Year Clock is being built. That stone now carries letter number 1 (a "J").
As a social sculpture, The Letters of Utrecht refer to the 7000 Oaks of Joseph Beuys in Kassel, Germany. Beuys named his work City Forestation Instead of City Administration and conceptualized man's dependency on nature, referring to it as a 'Wärmezeitmaschine' (Heat-Time-Engine). The Letters of Utrecht evoke civilizations' growth of knowledge and the dependency of future inhabitants on the actions of contemporaries and visualize the passing of time and the reality of the future.
The continuation of the Letters depends on the willingness of citizens to sponsor the creation of a letter in return for having a name or dedication engraved in the side of the cobblestone and on a website, which hopes to let people consider their reputation among posterity rather than their status among contemporaries.
- 10,000 year Clock of the Long Now
- 7000 Oaks
- Social sculpture
- Street art
- De Letters van Utrecht (Dutch)
- De Letters van Utrecht (English)
- "Long Poetry: The Letters of Utrecht" by Charlotte of the Long Now Foundation. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- News item on the opening of the Letters of Utrecht on Dutch television NOS (in Dutch). Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- ‘Ciudad escrita‘ (written city), a newspaper column by Liuba Kogan over the Letters of Utrecht January 17, 2014 in the Peruvian daily El Comercio (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 February 2014.