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Mediocre artists put just enough time into their work to finish the job. Truly great artists put their whole heart and soul into what they do, persisting until it's perfect. Some artists keep going well after that point, not stopping when the work is done, or when it's perfect, or indeed ever -- no matter how infuriating and unnecessary the effort might seem. Depending on who you ask, these people either are shining examples of the human endeavor or just, like, really didn't have anything better to do that decade.

Salt Sculptures Built to Be Demolished

Mitchell Kearney

You probably think you have the patience of a saint because you waited through that two-hour DMV line and only swore at the clerk three times. But you are nothing compared to Motoi Yamamoto, the artist who makes things like this:

Makoto Morisawa
Lairs for his giant spiders. Nothing wrong with that ...

... entirely out of salt.

The salt is not held immobile in any way. Yamamoto makes his creations completely out of loose granules he pours out through a squeeze bottle. Here's a video of him in action, filling a whole room up with his designs inch by painstaking inch. If he sneezed, he'd instantly erase a month of work.

Stefan Worring/Motoi Yamamoto
That's why, after several years, he reluctantly abandoned pepper sculpting.

Yamamoto also defies physics to create 3D sculptures out of the same fine, powdery dust that we can't even manage to wipe completely off the kitchen counter, much less carefully stack into a quarter-scale model of that stairway from The Lord of the Rings.

Motoi Yamamoto
It comes in pre- and post-earthquake versions. Seriously.

We can't imagine putting half the amount of effort into raising a child, much less a tiny salt maze ...

Motoi Yamamoto
He makes slugs solve this maze. If they touch the walls, they die.

... that will be utterly destroyed after only a few weeks. Yamamoto doesn't just invite the audience to completely annihilate his artwork -- he insists that they tromp through his delicate lines like a bunch of well-seasoned Godzillas.

James Martin/The Mint Museum
Again, this only makes sense if he's marinating victims for his giant spider pet.

He only asks that, after these heathens are done ruining something beautiful, the salt be returned to the sea from whence it came. Salt is very important in Japanese culture, as it's used to purify bodies after death and ward away evil spirits. That's why Yamamoto does this: All of his work is dedicated to his younger sister, who died of brain cancer in 1996.

Great. And we promised we wouldn't cry today. Maybe Yamamoto can use our salty tears to paint a forest or something.

The 200-Foot Memorial in the Middle of the Sahara Desert

Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc/Familles de l'Attentat du DC10 d'UTA

In September of 1989, Libyan terrorists brought down a French commuter plane flying from the Congo to Paris. The plane crashed in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on the planet: the Sahara Desert. The wreckage was never cleaned up, and the remains of the exploded plane stayed right where they landed all the way up until 2007, when the families of the victims trekked out into the middle of one of the hottest places in the world, gathered up some of the pieces, and used them to help build a 200-foot memorial in the sand.

Google Maps via ITV
It doubles as a compass for lost skydivers.

That's how the memorial appears from satellite via Google Earth. We hope you appreciate it, because you are essentially its only audience. It's not like scorpions and buzzards are known for their fine artistic sensibilities -- no swooning art lovers are going to wander by this work with a glass of wine. Two full months of sweaty, back-breaking work in the Saharan summer, and it was all solely for the benefit of the families themselves, and probably also to really confuse armchair Internet explorers.

Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc/Familles de l'Attentat du DC10 d'UTA
"We still get emails from puzzled Lost fans."

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Huge, Intricate Sand Patterns That Don't Even Last a Day

Jim Denevan

Imagine dedicating your entire day to putting together a huge work of art with painstaking precision. Sure, it's only a single day, but it's exhausting work, and the results are impressive. Then, as soon as it's done, you turn around to watch the tide wipe it all away. We punched a crab once when the sea filled in a moderately deep hole we'd managed to dig. We can't imagine the heartbreak of watching something like this erased like God's Etch A Sketch:

Jim Denevan
Another classic Beach Boys recording lost forever.

The guy on the right is Jim Denevan, and he spent all day doing this with a rake:

Jim Denevan
"It's no use, Jim. You'll never get it clean."

Denevan doesn't use any kind of measuring device or schematics to form his art; he just has an uncanny eye for what it looks like from the sky. And after his work is done, he's lucky if somebody manages to snap a hasty photo or two before the work is inevitably reclaimed by the sea. When asked how he feels about dying a little bit inside every single evening, he replied: "Who would want it not to wash away?"

Jim Denevan
Why does he want to erase this? Who is he contacting?

We're not sure if that's a beautiful sentiment about the fleeting nature of life, or if Jim is just a bit of a masochist.

World Record Crop Mazes


Observe the corny shenanigans of Brett Herbst:

See: You really do need cursive when you grow up.

This particular work holds the world record for the largest corn maze, clocking in at just over 12 acres. That is an entirely different breed of labyrinth from the wimpy little Halloween corn mazes of our youth. A 12-acre corn maze might actually have a literal minotaur at the center, waiting to battle all those who find him. How would we ever prove otherwise? By walking 12 acres? Not bloody likely.

You can see from that first photo that Herbst has a thing for science fiction. Here's his Star Wars-theme maze, which, despite being agriculture, is still a better prequel than Phantom Menace.

Smith Rock Ranch
It's dedicated to Maize Windu.

Herbst is a little secretive about the exact method he uses to create his mazes nowadays, because his success has spawned a few large-scale corn maze copycats (food labyrinths are apparently a booming industry). But he does reveal that, initially, all of his mazes were carved out by hand with a weed whacker.

"It takes a strong set of arms to get through this much whacking."

Probably makes you feel like a bit of a dick for complaining about the weekend yard work.

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Portraits So Immense, You Can See Them Only from the Air

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

If you were flying over Belfast last year, you might have spotted a gargantuan child's face staring back at you from the ground.

Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Or a face flying through the air and closing in on you.

After quietly closing the window, downing the rest of your scotch, and trying not to go all William Shatner on the flight staff, you may have brought up Google and found that it was a piece by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada called "WISH."

And also that it was way, way bigger than you could have imagined. You get the idea from that photo that maybe it's the size of a small parking lot or something. Here's what it looked like from the ground:

Ulster Bank/Belfast Festival at Queens
"Yo, your penguin sucks."

Yes, that tiny dot at the bottom right is a man standing beside construction equipment. "WISH" spanned 11 acres, took 18 months to complete, and was built out of 2,000 tons of sand and 2,000 tons of soil. Imagine trying to plan something that immense, toiling away at it every day for a year and a half when, at the artist's level, all you see is this:

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
It's a fulfilling job, if you like dirt, and lines.

More unbelievable is that most people in Belfast couldn't possibly appreciate Rodriguez-Gerada's effort, because there was no point in the city high enough to see it from. The artwork could only be viewed by an aircraft, a government drone camera, or a vacationing Superman.

Ulster Bank/Belfast Festival at Queens
All three would battle over it, and the artwork would be destroyed.

This wasn't Rodriguez-Gerada's first attempt at creating artwork exclusively for low-flying aliens. Here's one of his previous works, a portrait of Barack Obama on a beach in Barcelona:

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
"Proof That Obama Came from Foreign Soil!" -Fox News

This one took 650 metric tons of sand and gravel. Here they are applying it by hand with small shovels:

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

By contrast: On more than one occasion, we've bitten into a Snickers wrapper because our hands were slippery and we couldn't wait long enough to get it open the normal way.

Gift Wrapping Huge Chunks of the Planet

Kaldor Public Art Projects

This is the single largest artwork ever created:

Kaldor Public Art Projects
It's almost twice the size of your mother.

It was called "Wrapped Coast" and involved gift-wrapping 1 million square feet of Australian coastline in fabric. The piece was larger than Mount Rushmore -- so large, in fact, that it could not be viewed in its entirety from any one vantage point. Clearly these are the actions of some small army run by an insane person. Cobra Commander is our first guess. But no, Wrapped Coast was the result of artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude's relentless appetite for covering things in other things. They've gift-wrapped the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris:

Wolfgang Volz
It's also technically the world's biggest dental dam.

The Reichstag in Germany:

Wolfgang Volz
In traditional warm German summer colors.

And even these entire friggin' islands in Florida:

Wolfgang Volz
Using Miami Vice costumes, which were the nearest fabric available.

We're not sure what statement they're trying to make by gift-wrapping large chunks of the planet, but Galactus: Devourer of Worlds is probably going to be pleasantly surprised when he gets here.

S Peter Davis is the author of Occam's Nightmare, a book on conspiracy theories and strange science. Buy it on Amazon, or else visit his blog or his website.

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Related Reading: If you'd like to do something worthwhile that requires NO effort, why not sneeze into your damn sleeve? It'll save lives. Or at least weekends. If you'd like to stick to the low effort side of things, you should look into bounty hunting or martial arts instructing. Neither require much. On more of an art kick today? Check out these horrible masterpieces using the human body.

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