Striper

Speaking of the accidental artistry of colorful street markings, artist Simon Rouby became fascinated by the ongoing painting and repainting of traffic lines on the freeways and streets of Los Angeles, like some vast and unacknowledged readymade art project.

[Images: Photos by Simon Rouby for "Yellow Line"].

Could this huge urban painting apparatus be temporarily repurposed, Rouby wondered—leading him to contact Caltrans directly and embark upon a project with the rather straightforward name of "Yellow Line."

That project, Rouby explains, introduced him "to the California Transportation 'Striping Crew.' I followed them while they poured miles of yellow paint onto the concrete of Los Angeles. With them I got to know the biggest and most congested network of freeways in the United States, and built my understanding of Los Angeles, a gigantic city where people meet everyday, but at 60 miles per hour on the freeways. Millions of cars per day, from which 75% drive alone, despite traffic and smog."

"We also did canvases," Rouby adds, "painted directly with their trucks."

[Image: From "Yellow Line" by Simon Rouby].

Nonetheless, it's not those canvases but the project's most basic conceptual move—putting the Caltrans striping crews into the same context as, say, Jackson Pollack or Marcel Duchamp—that interests me the most here, implying new possibilities for interpretation, even whole new futures for art history and landscape criticism, with this recognition of avant-garde projects going on disguised as the everyday environment.

[Image: From "Yellow Line" by Simon Rouby].

Pushing this further, the transportation system itself becomes an earthworks project that dwarfs the—by contrast—embarrassingly unambitious Michael Heizer or Robert Smithson, revealing Caltrans, not Field Operations or any other white-collar design firm, as one of the most high-stakes landscape practitioners—a parallel civilization of mound builders hidden in plain sight—at work in the world today.

In any case, Simon Rouby's "Yellow Line" is on display at the Caltrans District 7 Building—100 South Main Street, Los Angeles—until 28 September 2012.

Comments are moderated for spam only.






3 Comments:

Blogger GlenH said...

This is a really facinating concept! The reality of our building techniques is that even reinforced concrete will not last long after the end of our civilization- the rebar will be robbed as a handy source of steel very quickly. However, the earth ramps and embankments will last for millenia and the tar and paint on the surface, especially in dry climates will still be visible form centuries. Cryptic directions from a lost world of travellers...

August 25, 2012 7:56 PM  
Blogger ERic said...

Some of the more enjoyable art I've seen is that produced on highways by spilled paint cans.

August 27, 2012 11:03 AM  
Blogger timquinn said...

As a gigantic painting the striping system has some remarkably sophisticated properties. The restricted palette, only orange, black and white, the high tech materials applied in specific and anti-craft ways, the limited set of marks arrived at in a highly contextual manner. It reminds one of the better minimalists, Irwin or Turrel, for example, while at the same time proffering an absurdist web of function . a full scale map chock full of important information. Astounding.

August 28, 2012 2:56 PM  

Post a Comment