2. Salzburg Art Project
Mario Merz | Numbers in the Woods

Sculpture project on Mönchsberg, Salzburg

The renowned Italian artist Mario Merz, one of the most important representatives of arte povera, selected Mönchsberg mountain as the site of his work. Close to the Museum der Moderne, it stands in a dell next to the water tower, half concealed by trees and brush, but nevertheless close to the lookout point over the city. The work, configured like an igloo, consists of twelve arched stainless steel tubes with a matte-brushed finish, seven metres in height, bearing a total of twenty-one neon numerals that gleam over Salzburg by night.

The structure has a surprising and enigmatic effect. Open on all sides, it blends into the landscape, a perfect symbiosis of aesthetic and natural creation. The “Numbers in the Woods” refer to a numerical series developed by the medieval mathematician Fibonacci, who discovered it to represent the rate of propagation of physical forces. Each integer after the first is the sum of the two preceding integers: 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8, 5 + 8 = 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1,597, 2,584, 4,181, 6,765, 10,946. Merz views the numerals that seem to sprout from the steel arches as evoking the growth of leaves, in the sense of an eternal, endless process of evolution.