A more expensive, more involved version could cost $1,000 or $2,000, he said.
Higher-end monoliths: more work, more money
To strengthen a Utah-style construction, the special-effects artist Jamie Hyneman, who was a longtime host of the show “Mythbusters,” said that a builder could coat the wood framing with epoxy to hold the sheet metal, and place another board on top with weights for a few hours to secure the construction.
He also outlined another, sturdier version of monolith that would use thick pieces of metal, cast into the corners of the triangular shape, to hold the three panels of metal together. This construction might take some more work, in order to bevel the edges of the sheet metal and create the corner fasteners, but a monolith could still be ready in a day or two.
“You could pretty much specify all this stuff at some machine shop and just assemble it,” he said. “It’s really kind of a dead simple thing.”
He warned that the devil was in the details. Thinner metal could make the monolith seem “kind of warpy,” and require countersinking the metal. Cardboard could help prevent scratches while moving the monolith, and rope could help lift it. Rebar drilled into the base and stuck into the ground could secure it.
So many kinds of monoliths
For purists, a monolith is a single large block, usually made of stone, in the style of an obelisk or a geometric slab, like the rectangular one from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” That film’s director, Stanley Kubrick, originally wanted a transparent object, said David Mikics, a professor at the University of Houston and the author of a Kubrick biography.
“He ordered up an enormous piece of Lucite, the largest Lucite object that had ever been made,” Mr. Mikics said. But when the object was delivered, Kubrick was disappointed it was not, in fact, completely transparent. So he ordered up a new prop to be painted, over and over again, in a shade of matte black. “This of course was a great idea, it’s just like an abyss,” Mr. Mikics said.