well, it's technically a monolith at this point, an obelisk would narrow as it gets taller, and that complicated the design. I also just like the word obelisk more than monolith and would be willing to tear it down and cut it/sand it to make it more obelisk-like.
I still don't know what the rules/encouragements will be to make it an effective experiment in chaotic self-organization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization#Self-organization_in_cybernetics
). At first paint was pretty cheap, but the first day people started tagging it they each wanted to take up the entire wall, without considering how much it will cost / what it would take for someone to remove it.
I spent about $12 in paint covering the first tags up, which isn't a lot to me now because I'm interested in the idea, but eventually I won't care and the project may wind up stagnant. At that point, I'm okay with somebody removing and destroying the box, or telling me to remove or destroy the box. I have spent about $130 on it so far, but it's an experiment and if somebody wanted it removed completely I would do that.
I like the "dealing with impermanence" part, not getting hurt if someone removes your work, but finding a reason to do something anyway, even if it is soon to be removed. I'm not sure if it's a valuable exercise, but it is a way of dealing with situations where you may work hard on something, and the next day it may be painted over through no act of malice or personal attack, so there's no reason to be personally upset by its removal. People sometimes say that work itself is the reward, the act of executing and being in that executive state of mind, so maybe we can reflect on that. I have thought about getting a group together to buy paint and cover the box with a clean coat of black at the end of every week (it takes about an hour to cover it.)
In a sense, this is an example of a Nomic Game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic
), where we each take turns redefining the rules and structure of the thing (through paint), and the real goal of the game is to find a reason to continue playing. I suppose that's supposed to be a reflection of our impact on the world at large.
An interesting effect of this goal, trying to find a reason to continue playing, is that graffiti is only gratifying (it seems) when the thing you are spray painting has value or posture. Once the thing has been spray painted, it no longer has posture, unless the painting was careful and intended to impress. If the painting has no intention of impressing, the value is lost, and the box may become stagnant, thus the game will end and the box may be destroyed.
These are, of course, only a few possible interpretations of The Obelisk.
(also, current state of the obelisk)