Thursday Salute to Originals: Metallic Orbs

An experimental digital project juxtaposes mined minerals against their origins.

In a series of CGI creations, Cape Town local and photographer Dillon Marsh documents the remains of 19th-century excavation sites across Springbok, South Africa. Once a massively productive extraction site, the mines have dug up many types of precious stones and metals, including copper, gold, platinum, and diamonds.

“The first of these mines was established in 1852, and back then the digging was done by hand. The extracted copper ore was then transported by ox wagons to the coast 140 kilometers away, and from there, it was shipped to England to be processed,” explained Marsh in an interview with This is Colossal.

The images shown here illustrate the product of the old mines as massive, shining orbs over their respective landscapes — visually scaled, 4.1 million tons of copper embed in the dusty surface of a man-made crater; 335 million troy ounces of gold rests atop a grassy plane.

By framing each orb against the remaining scars on the surface of the earth, Marsh aims to capture the devastating environmental impact of extraction. Cleverly titled “For What It’s Worth,” each photo in the series begs the question, was it (the orb) worth it?

This Thursday, we’re saluting the photography and creative CGI applications in Dillon Marsh’s “For What It’s Worth” series. You can follow Marsh’s ongoing visual project and other photography on Instagram.

Sources: Dillon Marsh, This is Colossal