Hovering over a cut in the earth.
October 7, 2011 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Levitated Mass. A 340-ton granite boulder will be transported 60 miles by freeway and set on a 456-foot cement ditch at the L.A. County Museum of Art.
posted by xowie (85 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before the haters start their hate:

This is a better use of resources than watering Santa Monica lawns.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:20 PM on October 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


What if we just skipped that whole argument and moved right on to how cool engineering is and how the confluence of engineering of art is an awesome thing?
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


This is a better use of resources than watering Santa Monica lawns.

Yes, but is it a better use of the resources than paying to have all the lawns in Santa Monica replaced with drought-friendly landscaping?
posted by davejay at 1:26 PM on October 7, 2011


We could also talk about how cool LACMA is or how Los Angeles, for all its various quirks and failings, has become a real city of the arts.
posted by The World Famous at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Are there any pictures of what this might look like apart from the tiny rough sketch in the first link?
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on October 7, 2011


Take that, Hirst!
posted by Theta States at 1:30 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to be super skeptical about the value of large-scale installations like this. I was all "WTF, giant rock not art!" "WTF, giant metal wall in field not art!" "WTF, orange fabric in Central Park not art" and so on.

Then I visited some huge pieces like this person and experienced a visceral impact that I can't really explain or justify rationally. And I realized: I may not "get" the meaning of pieces like this, but if it evokes a feeling, an emotional response, no matter how inexplicable, it absolutely fucking is art.

This looks like it'll be pretty amazing to see in person, both the final, finished piece and the part of the art that is the transportation of the boulder.

Yes, but is it a better use of the resources than paying to have all the lawns in Santa Monica replaced with drought-friendly landscaping?

Well, it's pretty fucking hard to quantify the value of art to society, so who can say for sure. But that would be a pretty interesting installation and several levels You should apply for an NEA grant. I'm 100% not kidding at all.
posted by dersins at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I suppose I could just wait until it is finished and, like, walk to the exhibit but I can't wait that long. Please hope me. Must see it now.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2011


At 340 tons, the boulder is one of the largest monoliths moved since ancient times. Taken whole, Levitated Mass speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from monolithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering.

I'm sorry, I can't resist.
posted by Trurl at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2011


My observations of L.A. scenery tell me this rock will be good and tagged before it makes it off of the truck.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Would the piece lose any poignancy if it was to use a fake 'hollywood" set rock instead of real rock? Is the concept of "real rock" vital to the pieces meaning? Why move an umpteen million ton rock when a set builder could craft one for you in a couple days?
posted by Keith Talent at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would the piece lose any poignancy if it was to use a fake 'hollywood" set rock instead of real rock?

Yes.
posted by Trurl at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


But is it art?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2011


A 340-ton granite boulder will be transported 60 miles by freeway

Let me just say right now that I'm behind them all the way!

Or rather, I probably will be.

With my luck.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:39 PM on October 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


But is it art?

Yes.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Viewers will be able to walk under the rock and peer up 15 feet at its underside.

Oh. Hell. No.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an art lover who also has a serious fetish for large boulders in their natural state, I would love to see this.
But also, what a challenge for an extremely ambitious art thief.
posted by Flashman at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


I work at LACMA. All I can say is that we've been hearing about The Rock for years now, and I still always have this vague image of Dwayne Johnson being levitated over the plaza. (Which, if it was made out of porcelain, would no doubt be some multimillion-dollar Jeff Koons piece that Michael Govan would want to acquire as well, so with that said let me say I am much happier with the 340-ton boulder than with another hideous example of overpriced Koonsian gimcrackery.)
posted by scody at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


Can someone MeMail me when settle concusively whether or not this is art? Thanks.
posted by rocket88 at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was surprised to see in the slideshow in the NYTimes article that the "boulder" is actually a quarried out chunk, rather than a naturally-formed piece found out in a field. Just a different concept of what is evoked by the word boulder, I guess. Either way, I'd love to walk under it after it is installed.
posted by Forktine at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would the piece lose any poignancy if it was to use a fake 'hollywood" set rock instead of real rock?

Yes.


Not so fast.

What if nobody knew it was a fake rock? Does a placebo art lose poignancy?
posted by 2N2222 at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


An impressive engineering feat to be sure, but as art it's thoughtless and dull.
posted by Tube at 1:55 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, I was just about to page you, scody.

I want to see this, but I have no idea where the hell they're going to put a 500 foot long concrete ditch with a giant (200 foot!? Am I reading that correctly?) boulder on it. Last time I was down there many years ago it seemed like most of the LACMA land was either built on or in the process of being built on.

I like the idea of the giant boulder out of context. It's lovely to see them in nature and climb around them, but it's hard to really contextualize how big or heavy those rocks are while in their natural state. An enormous boulder out of context in the middle of the Wilshire District would be pretty awesome to see.

The project also reminds me of the Temple of Gravity, a Burning Man installation from a few years back.
posted by loquacious at 1:59 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


An impressive engineering feat to be sure, but as art it's thoughtless and dull.

Only if you knew. Maybe.

I think the interpretation and assignment of artistic value might be different. But just as poignant. Just what did you think you were getting out of that giant rock, anyhow?
posted by 2N2222 at 2:03 PM on October 7, 2011


I'll make a brief argument here:

Heizer's work, like James Turrell's, is more interesting when limited by some economic constraints. An unlimited budget has taken Turrell's initially beautiful and concise idea of transforming the Rodin Crater and turned it into an overly opulent Disneyland of special effects.

An unlimited budget has taken Heizer's work from the sublimity of Double Negative to, in this case, a plaza object.
posted by xod at 2:07 PM on October 7, 2011


Context is everything. Stonehenge, for example, was probably just a local head shop in its day. Given enough time, the lizard cyborgs will think this was the greatest achievement of human kind. And maybe they'll be right. Who am I to question the wisdom of the lizard cyborgs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK, but is saying you're going to do something art?

Because I'M gonna jerk of on the moon.
posted by cmoj at 2:13 PM on October 7, 2011


Well of course the lizard cyborgs are going to prefer the under-the-rock art.
posted by xod at 2:15 PM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes, but is it a better use of the resources than paying to have all the lawns in Santa Monica replaced with drought-friendly landscaping?

Perhaps, if this installation encourages Santa Monicans to replace their lawns with drought-friendly landscaping. on their own.

Then I visited some huge pieces like this person and experienced a visceral impact that I can't really explain or justify rationally. And I realized: I may not "get" the meaning of pieces like this, but if it evokes a feeling, an emotional response, no matter how inexplicable, it absolutely fucking is art.

Your description reminds me of my reaction to seeing a Rothko in person for the first time. Rothko printed in an art history book: wtf. Rothko in person: omg.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like this.
posted by box at 2:18 PM on October 7, 2011


This rocks.
posted by everichon at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who am I to question the wisdom of the lizard cyborgs.

One dead bald monkey, that's who.
posted by benzenedream at 2:27 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why they don't just slide the ditch under the boulder.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:31 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well of course the lizard cyborgs are going to prefer the under-the-rock art.

these kinds of accusations are both hurtful and unnecessary
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on October 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


it will cost about 10 million. That is 5 minutes of military spending in the US.
posted by edgeways at 2:34 PM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's no way that boulder is getting off the ground, by the way. Runway's too short.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:35 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really do think it would be neat if they dragged the boulder on a huge sledge. People could volunteer to man the ropes. How often does one get a chance to contribute to a grand monument.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't LACMA built on the La Brea Tar Pits? [Or as we used to call them in a fit of Spanish translation: "the the tar tar pits".] I just have the image of this big, heavy boulder slowly sinking past the skeletons of less big, less heavy mastadons.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your description reminds me of my reaction to seeing a Rothko in person for the first time. Rothko printed in an art history book: wtf. Rothko in person: omg.

You're not kidding. The moment I first "got" Rothko (at LACMA, incidentally, viewing White Center) is one I'll remember for the rest of my life.
posted by the_bone at 2:47 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Engineers have designed a modular tractor with 22 axles, each with its own set of brakes, and 196 wheels. It will weigh 1,210,900 pounds, including the rock.

“That’s a lot,” Mr. Albrecht said. “But the weight per axle should be about 349,950 pounds"


What?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:49 PM on October 7, 2011


As long as they get plenty of HD video of the move to show on some NatGeo TV thing (with a heavy metal soundtrack) I'm fine with this.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:54 PM on October 7, 2011


transported 60 miles by freeway and set on a 456-foot cement ditch

Perfectly encapsulating LA.
posted by fshgrl at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


What if nobody knew it was a fake rock? Does a placebo art lose poignancy?

A rock that size will have a palpable mass to it that you're going to feel on a very elemental level. A plaster Hollywood faux-stone will certainly be big, but it not going to have the gravity of the real stone. This piece is relying on sheer mass and tension and some very primal human responses.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:07 PM on October 7, 2011


Now that's what I'd love to do, is set up two giant boulders several hundred feet apart, one (a very very convincing) fake and one solid and real, to see if people have a different emotional reaction to each. I have no basis for thinking so, but I believe most people will be able to spot the fake, at least by their intuitive reaction to each.
posted by danny the boy at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


An unlimited budget has taken Turrell's initially beautiful and concise idea of transforming the Rodin Crater and turned it into an overly opulent Disneyland of special effects.

OH NO YOU DIDNT

Turrell skyspaces are some of the most fabulous places on the planet...
posted by nathancaswell at 3:26 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Viewers will be able to walk under the rock and peer up 15 feet at its underside.

That seems really, really pervy to me.

WEAR GRAMMA PANTIES, ROCK!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2011



Now that's what I'd love to do, is set up two giant boulders several hundred feet apart, one (a very very convincing) fake and one solid and real, to see if people have a different emotional reaction to each. I have no basis for thinking so, but I believe most people will be able to spot the fake, at least by their intuitive reaction to each.



I think it would depend, in part, with how close they could get. There is going to be different smells, heat absorption/radiation. Stuff blown into it is going to react differently. Depending on the skillfulness involved, you might not be able to tell from 10 -20 yards out, but the closer you get the harder it would be to maintain the illusion. (I think).
posted by edgeways at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2011


mr. crash davis: “That’s a lot,” Mr. Albrecht said. “But the weight per axle should be about 349,950 pounds"

What?


Yeah, something's real screwy there. 22 axles at 350,000 pounds each is 7,700,000 pounds. If the total weight of the piece is 1.2 million pounds, something's way off in those numbers. If it was off a little, I'd assuming it was something like structural inefficiency, but it seems impossible for 1.2 million pounds to exert that much force.

Mr. Govan left little doubt when asked if this work was to be a permanent exhibition at the museum. “Try to move it,” he said.

Heh. One real shame of that particular art installation is that it'll be so easily mistaken for just a big rock in the ground. With the pyramids, or Stonehenge, you had no doubt that it was an intentional piece, but after a thousand years of wind-blown dirt filling that ditch in, will people even know it was a monument?

Neat idea, on the whole. Sometimes you should do crazy stuff just because you can.
posted by Malor at 3:55 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well of course the lizard cyborgs are going to prefer the under-the-rock art.

At mid-day, perhaps. Mornings and evenings they shall prefer the on-top-of-the-rock art.
posted by notyou at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can't wait to go visit this, lizards or no.
posted by notyou at 4:00 PM on October 7, 2011


16,500 tonne rock transported hundreds of miles using only water*.

* frozen
posted by blue_beetle at 4:09 PM on October 7, 2011


A rock that size will have a palpable mass to it that you're going to feel on a very elemental level. A plaster Hollywood faux-stone will certainly be big, but it not going to have the gravity of the real stone. This piece is relying on sheer mass and tension and some very primal human responses.

How well could the average person sense the gravity of this rock? Certainly, even a fake could be quite massive. What if it was hewn from a chunk of concrete?

All this misses the point, though. The response to the question if it would lose poignancy if it were not a real rock was an unequivocal "yes". Which I thought rather presumptuous, possibly relying on the conditions that one knows this endeavor took x amount of effort to quarry and transport. That would suggest the very frivolity of this act might constitute some, maybe even most of its value. That analysis, if one were to accept it, may or may not change all that much regardless if the stone is not real. But I'm not sure its poignancy as a work is all that affected.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:13 PM on October 7, 2011


I think this is neat.
posted by carter at 4:23 PM on October 7, 2011


I like that installation artists are getting boulder.
posted by everichon at 4:32 PM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


AND MANY OTHER STUPID ROCK PUNS.
posted by everichon at 4:33 PM on October 7, 2011


When the 650 tone piece of the Canadian shield was moved from the North to Yorkville Park in Toronto it sounded like a waste of money but the effect is quite impressive. Rocks are so incredibly cool.
posted by saucysault at 4:35 PM on October 7, 2011


AND MANY OTHER STUPID ROCK PUNS

Never take rock puns for granite.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:14 PM on October 7, 2011


I'm torn on this, the skeptic part of me thinks "big rock not art" and the part that just likes cool shit thinks "I'd really like to see this". Also, put me in the "fake rock would ruin the whole effect" column.
posted by MikeMc at 5:21 PM on October 7, 2011


"Museum Mile?"
NYT fail.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


the effect is quite impressive. Agreed!
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, put me in the "fake rock would ruin the whole effect" column.

I agree. But what if they used a fake rock but told everyone that it was a real rock and put on all this stuff about how much it weighs and how long it takes to get there and inventing a truck for it and everything as part of what is actually a huge performance art piece to trick people into just thinking that the fake rock is a real rock? Dude. Dooooood.
posted by The World Famous at 5:55 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The response to the question if it would lose poignancy if it were not a real rock was an unequivocal "yes". Which I thought rather presumptuous, possibly relying on the conditions that one knows this endeavor took x amount of effort to quarry and transport.

Why is is presumptuous? Don't you think the Great Pyramid would be a little less impressive if it were made of papier maché?
posted by Justinian at 6:18 PM on October 7, 2011


6000 year old papier mâché?

Way more impressive than 6000 year old stones.
posted by notyou at 6:33 PM on October 7, 2011


What if nobody knew it was a fake rock? Does a placebo art lose poignancy?

I don't see the difference between this question and "if your everything in your life was just a simulation but you didn't know it, would it still be just as real?"

And who knows . . . maybe that kind of question is partly what the work is about.

Personally, I'm not very concerned with that question, as my own answer is "no, if I don't know my life/the rock is a simulation, it doesn't lose any meaning/reality/poignancy." But I'm also not sure the question is as profound as it seems: it's built-in to the nature of consciousness itself that there's no way to know for sure, just like it's built-in to the nature of this work that there's no way an ordinary observer could somehow "test" the rock to make sure it's the real thing.
posted by treepour at 6:38 PM on October 7, 2011


Boy, since painting over it didn't quite work Rick Perry will do anything to get rid of that thing.
posted by item at 7:18 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll confess to being disappointed at how small the boulder is. When I first read about it, in a Kindle version of the LA Times article linked at the top, and processed the phrase "the 340-ton, 211/2-foot-high granite boulder" to signify "211 feet high", I was truly impressed. I had visions of it moving slowly across the Southern California landscape somewhat as the liberated financial building sails through London at the start of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. After that, a 21 1/2 foot boulder just plain lacks, shall we say, gravitas.
posted by Creosote at 7:44 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


as part of what is actually a huge performance art piece to trick people into just thinking that the fake rock is a real rock? Dude. Dooooood.

Mind. Blown.
posted by MikeMc at 8:18 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: another hideous example of overpriced Koonsian gimcrackery
posted by lalochezia at 8:28 PM on October 7, 2011


Your description reminds me of my reaction to seeing a Rothko in person for the first time. Rothko printed in an art history book: wtf. Rothko in person: omg.
-
You're not kidding. The moment I first "got" Rothko (at LACMA, incidentally, viewing White Center) is one I'll remember for the rest of my life.


So with you there! Though in my case it was No. 14, 1960 at SFMOMA. The vast difference between the prints and posters I'd seen so many times and the experience of standing in front of an original absolutely blew my mind.

I'll definitely go check out the boulder installation if I ever find myself in LA. Sounds like it could be pretty amazing.
posted by polymath at 9:37 PM on October 7, 2011


Like a Christo piece, the documentation of its fruition will be a large part of the exhibit no doubt.
posted by Theta States at 9:59 PM on October 7, 2011


Don't do it! You'll doom us all...
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 10:47 PM on October 7, 2011


Isn't LACMA built on the La Brea Tar Pits? [Or as we used to call them in a fit of Spanish translation: "the the tar tar pits".] I just have the image of this big, heavy boulder slowly sinking past the skeletons of less big, less heavy mastadons.

Two points: 1) I am sad that I was not the first person to call them The The Tar Tar Pits; 2) yep, LACMA and the tar pits do share the same real estate in Hancock Park. In fact, when LACMA was going through one of its construction phases a couple of years ago (specifically when building the new underground parking garage), there was an incredible find of hundreds of animal specimens, which brought the construction process to a halt till the good folks at the Page Museum could get in there and excavate them properly. Most of us thought it was actually pretty neat, though one of the (then-)muckety-muck executives of the museum was on the record as wanting to "throw some chicken bones in a mud puddle" to distract the scientists so that we could get our precioussssss parking lot already.
posted by scody at 12:03 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heizer conceived of the artwork in 1968, but discovered an appropriate boulder, which is one component of the greater artwork, only decades later...

This guy is finishing strong, but I can't help feeling he wasn't really trying that hard to find a big rock for the first couple of decades.
posted by rh at 1:19 AM on October 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Man grinds up rock mixes with gooey stuff and smears on surface made from flax. Is it art?
This seems often the problem when talking about installation art. There is a reduction to the material and its deployment. No one talking about an old master talks about its merit on relation to, say the mineral composition of the burnt sienna pigment.
posted by multivalent at 4:06 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of art is mastery of the medium. This is art.
posted by gjc at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2011


Xod inspired me, I am writing this comment from Turrell's Meeting @ PS1 an it's glorious. That is all.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2011


Then I visited some huge pieces like this person and experienced a visceral impact that I can't really explain or justify rationally. And I realized: I may not "get" the meaning of pieces like this, but if it evokes a feeling, an emotional response, no matter how inexplicable, it absolutely fucking is art.

That means do you get it. People worry too much about The Meaning. And worrying about it stops people just being open to the work. There are artworks, there are people, and there are meanings, and sometimes our meanings coincide, and sometimes they don't. And it's all good.

I usually wait till I'm done making something before I worry too much about what it means, and I'm always interested to hear what it means to other people. That's how I learn about what I do.

Would love to see this. Wish I lived a bit closer...
posted by Chairboy at 9:04 PM on October 9, 2011


Meh. You do get it. Sorry. it's late...
posted by Chairboy at 9:08 PM on October 9, 2011


A rock that size will have a palpable mass to it that you're going to feel on a very elemental level. A plaster Hollywood faux-stone will certainly be big, but it not going to have the gravity of the real stone.

Show your math, Thorzdad. By my calculations, the gravitational force exerted on me by this rock at 4 meters from its center would be:
G * 5e5 kg * 100 kg / (4 m)^2 = 0.0002 N, or 0.0007 ounces.

Nobody is going to be feeling that.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:58 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do believe Thorzdad was speaking, like, metaphorically.
posted by Justinian at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then I do believe Thorzdad was speaking, like, wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2011


Oh, I don't know. There is "something" about being next to a huge rock. Perhaps it's the way it conducts heat, alters acoustics, other subtle perception-related phenomena. It would interesting to see some research done about subjective impressions versus empirical data about that.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, there is, Horselover Phattie, but it has nothing to do with gravitation. I'm correcting a physics falsehood - nipping an urban legend in the bud, if you will.

Heat capacity, various variables related to thermal transfer, and acoustics are probably the majority of it.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2011


I doubt it; I think it likely completely psychological. Vertigo, for example, isn't the result of thermal transfer or heat capacity. Being next to a giant rock hits us in the brain.
posted by Justinian at 2:36 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad doesn't mean that the local gravity is sufficiently increased by there being a real rock there (as opposed to a fake one) that he can feel it. I think what he's trying to express is that the thing will feel like it's heavier and more of a mass because it's real, that it will have poetic weight. He's alluding to the Roman notion of Gravitas.
posted by Chairboy at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2011


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