Daniel Popper’s Surreal Sculpture in the Mojave Desert

Transmission by Daniel Popper

Rising from the sands of California's Mojave desert, a woman's face and hand cut a striking figure. The work of South African sculptor Daniel Popper, the mosaicked installation sits at the Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree. Designed to remind visitors of their spiritual place in the universe, the monumental sculpture is both surreal and serene.

The face, which is 32 feet tall, has all the characteristics that define Popper's work. The woman's downward gaze and closed eyes set an introspective mood that carries on throughout the work. The hands, which measure 27 feet tall, have circular cutouts in the palms. These circles are accented by mosaic pieces created from dichroic glass mirror tile. As such, the light and color of the mosaic, which can also be found across the woman's face, change along with the environment.

The piece, titled Transmission, is intended to symbolize the confluence of Earth and Sky. And, by extension, the confluence of the spiritual and the physical. Visitors are invited to soak in the energy and light that the hands transmit and revel in the symbols, such as the crescent moon, that adorn the sculpture.

“While such themes gesture to the heavens, Transmission is deeply rooted in the land, her unseen body—one imagines—extending far beneath the desert sands,” states the artist. “With her likeness paused in meditation, the sculpted figure offers reflections on our relationship with the earth and the universe, and reminds us of our place within the vast expanse of space.”

Since it was placed on the property in 2021, Transmission has caused quite a stir. The ranch, which is available for rent on Airbnb, is not open to the public. While getting a close view of Popper's masterpiece is for guests only, the owners have kindly constructed a turn out on a nearby road so curious visitors can view the sculpture and take pictures.

Transmission is a monumental sculpture by Daniel Popper in the Mojave desert.

Transmission by Daniel Popper

The piece is adorned with mirrored mosaic tiles that reflect the changing colors of the landscape.

Close Up of Daniel Popper Transmission

Daniel Popper Sculpture at Joshua Treet

The piece is meant to remind visitors of their spiritual place in the universe.

Sculpture at The Mojave Moon Ranch

While the sculpture is located on private property, the public can view it from a distance on a nearby road.

Sculpture at The Mojave Moon Ranch

Daniel Popper: Website | Facebook | Instagram

All images via Jonx Pillemer. My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Daniel Popper.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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