Claes Oldenburg and Coosja van Bruggen's’s Flashlight sculpture in UNLV campus is one of the best critiques ever installed as a sculpture in that city . Their carefully placed giant flashlight indeed is on and from close up one can see its dim radiation of light as well as what the the famous strip radiates beyond, not so dim, and restive like the sculpture, but more get up and go and play. It is a summary on scale, consumption, pop, and a very appropriate commentary for a city as a commercial development, busting out visible energy as if there is tomorrow if you keep playing and spending. When noise of Las Vegas Strip thrives and shines on the nightlife, the lights are dim at the University...
Oldenburg/van Bruggen, Flashlight, UNLV Campus 1981. Image from oldenburgvanbruggen.com
Here is a quote from Claes Oldenburg from the website.
The first treatment of the subject was a tower-like open construction which could be climbed by stairs inside to a platform where lights would be directed up into the sky. The proposal was approved May, 1979, but fabrication was put on hold when Coosje developed strong doubts about the concept during the summer that followed, finding this lighthouse version of the Flashlight too mechanical in appearance and the light shining up into the sky too clichèd and reminiscent of authoritarian spectacle. Moreover, she felt the design did not reflect the overwhelming, mysterious presence of Nature all around. Coosje proposed a more original approach: making an analogy to the monumentalization of tiny plant forms in Karl Blossfeldt’s Urformen der Kunst, she compared the flashlight to a cactus which led to a very different formulation of its appearance, creating a daylight identity which had been neglected in the lighthouse approach.
Enter ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Award.
The International, open, single stage, public, anonymous, preliminary design competition
for the conception of a tall emblem structure, to promote the new face of Dubai.
Perhaps unknowingly, the jury selected the best project (i am talking about the published ones) and there is a huge outcry coming from losers of the 900 strong participants. Some seeking apology, re-appropriations, recognition and and flat out denounecement of the Winner.
This is absurd, blinded and really naive.
What the runner uppers reflect are no more than derivative iterations of boring public spectacles, banal light shows and Disneyland like entertainment.
What designer night frame is the second place winner suggesting,
or what about the flying colors of Benetton the tie place represents,
another third place tie with a floating score board perhaps broadcasting the time lost by not purchasing a condominium in half price in Dubai?
As far as the another tie ‘the Mirage” is concerned, I wonder if it was pitched to some other destination first and anyway, whatever. Changing colors and textures where you kiss your partner and say ‘welcome to Dubai?’
Unlike the few complaints on the discussion part of the Bustler article on the Competition, I think the winner, clearly reflects upon series of undefined tears about the feelings of dealings on Dubai. The winning entry not only puts Dubai in its place of framed kitch but also disarms everything else. Not unlike OMA's famous diagram of decorated and simply mundane hi-rise apartments shown in their analysis of Dubai skyline.
I think the winner spent enough time on realizing the drawing and design proposal. The losers can’t get it because it shows that what they been trying to further embrace etc.., Dubai, is already a spectacle as of now and will always remain so. Too bad for people, who are trying to make a winningest of the all the spectacles and being totally moralistic about their expensive labor, and unrewarded renderings, after all, beautifully passed by a one liner in a Delirious New York way... A one liner about 'all liners.'
Go home, look in the mirror and tell us you have done nothing critical, but further drank on the sweet desert milk. Hoping to canquer Dubai, yet being framed.
Go home and don’t look onto Dubai close because you can’t take it. Your colleagues created a city that is better from a distant frame, look but don't touch, Twisted Towers re-framed... The expat firms that Dubai built.
The winner is like the wheel and there is no point of rediscovering. The rest tries and ends up as cake decoration.
If Rem Koolhaas ever twisted someone's arm for the prize winner, he did it brilliantly. You'll thank him later...
Addendum: After seeing the other non winning entries at Bustler, my initial view stands solidified.