Multidisciplinary South African artist Daniel Popper creates larger-than-life humanoid installations, evoking a sense of being in the presence of Gods of mythology or religion. One of his most recent and largest sculptures to date was unveiled in October 2023 in Bali, an island oftentimes known as the “Island of Gods.” Titled Earth Sentinels, the recent creation comprises two colossal figures intended as protectors of Mother Earth, providing a poignant reflection on the magnificence and vulnerability of the planet. The humanoid appearance of these giants serves as a powerful reminder of the collective responsibility to nurture the planet aligning with the objectives outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Life on Land

Earth Sentinels by Daniel Popper. Image courtesy of

In an interview with Nuanu, The South African artist discussed how he began his career as a stage and production designer for renowned music festivals and concerts. He shares that this experience equipped him with the skills to comprehend large-scale design concepts and interactions, which he has successfully showcased at various events, ranging from Society Las Olas in Florida to EDC in Vegas, and Coachella

Transmission by Daniel Popper at Coachella 2023. Image courtesy of Coachella Magazine

Earth Sentinels are two giants meant to be guardians of planet Earth that are situated at the entrance of Nuanu, Bali. The giant guardians have trees growing out from their shoulders and necks, and Popper has even added pots and actual trees at their base so that as the trees and surrounding nature grow, the piece will become one with nature.

Standing 14 meters tall, Earth Sentinels are some of Popper’s largest pieces. They are made of mostly concrete with a steel frame base and some fibreglass enforcements, requiring complex craftsmanship to construct. Manufacturing of the sculptures was done between Shenzhen and South Africa, before they were shipped as parts to Bali. Collaboration plays a pivotal role in bringing Daniel Popper's artistic vision to life, with his dedicated team of four working closely together. Specifically for Earth Sentinels, Popper teamed up with DELIVERED Creative Studio to craft a projection mapping show. This visually stunning display illustrates the cycles of reincarnation that the sentinels undergo, according to Nuanu.

Projection mapping on Earth Sentinels by Daniel Popper. Image courtesy of nuanu_city/Instagram

The artist has been particularly interested in esoteric and metaphysical themes reflecting upon his intentions of making colossal size art pieces that often also evoke people’s sense of connection with their humanoid ancestors and Gods. As an observer, one might feel physically small and understand that there are forces out there that are bigger than humankind, while at the same time, their representational appearance, reminds viewers of the power that humankind has within them.

In terms of Earth Sentinels, they invite observers to marvel at the grandeur of nature, while at the same time being able to see themselves represented in it. Popper’s affirmation that they are guardians of planet Earth also adds a layer of meaning, inviting his viewers to remember that they too can guard Mother Earth.

He is creating “[...] places for people to engage, connect and share experiences, sometimes internally with themselves and sometimes with each other,” the artist said in an interview with STIR World magazine. 

Earth Sentinels by Daniel Popper. Image courtesy of Yoshi Zen Blog.

“I have had many people write to me to say they have proposed to their partner or had deep spiritual connections with themselves. This is very inspiring feedback for me which makes me want to continue to do it.”

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