Ever wondered how marble is quarried? The process, documented in this stunning short by Italian artist and filmmaker Yuri Ancarani, is utterly transfixing.

Assorted observations:

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  1. It's a little unreal how beautiful this is.
  2. I never realized that raw marble is harvested in colossal slabs from the sides of mountains. That is just unreal.
  3. The quarry featured in the film is located in the Carrara region of Northwest Italy's Apuan Alps. Marble quarries can be found all around the world, but Carrara marble proved especially popular among Ancient Roman architects and Renaissance artists, alike. Michelangelo himself is said to have been quite the fan of the milky stone; two of his most renowned sculptures, David and The Pietà, were carved from darkly-veined Carrara marble.
  4. The way the supervisor guides the workers inside the excavators is kind of incredible. Dude is like a marble-harvesting mecha pilot.

Artist Kelly Borsheim visited the marble quarries of Carrara in 2004. In a blog entry, she remarked on the abundance of marble in the region, and the beauty and danger of the excavation process (emphasis added):

This summer I took my dream trip to Italy and naturally I visited the stone quarries of Carrara, which Michelangelo made famous. As I flew into Pisa, the white tops of the Apuan Alps to the north were clearly visible from my window seat on the plane. I overheard someone say that many people are surprised to see snow on the mountains in the summertime, until they learn that it is not snow, but marble they see. Marble is so abundant in this region that it is even used for curbs on the sides of streets!

I had contacted Cave Michelangelo before arriving in Italy and we set up a tour time once I arrived in the area. My host that morning was geologist Fabio Massimo Biselli. The owner of the quarry is Franco Barattini. Fabio introduced me to Mr. Barattini up in the mountains while we were viewing the beautiful stone. Before visiting the Cave Michelangelo Quarry in Carrara, I had only been in the Yule marble quarry in Colorado... In Colorado, the marble is harvested from the inside of the mountain, working around very large square columns of stone that support the external surface of the mountain above the quarry. The Carrara mountainsides were a whole other look with completely open excavation by all of the quarries over the centuries. Cave Michelangelo not only has a huge quarry, but also a factory which keeps busy with commissions of classical reproductions as well as enlargements of today's artists' works. (I was a bit shocked, however, that none of the workers I saw wore any protection for ears, lungs, or hands.)

I guess that explains the missing fingers.

[NOWNESS via kottke]

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