The first big project I worked on since moving to Los Angeles a year ago was the public art installation, Projection, by French artist Vincent Lamouroux, currently on display in Silver Lake. Fifteen years ago, he had discovered the iconic Sunset Pacific Motel and couldn’t get it out of his mind.
Inspired by its dark history plagued by crime, he has dipped the lovingly nicknamed “Bates Motel” in white paint—including the surrounding palm trees and a billboard, both markers of the LA’s iconography—to celebrate it one last time before its demolition, which is likely to take place at the end of this year. In contrast to its colorful surroundings, the drastically whitewashed building has become a ghost, at once erased and more prominent than ever. Its transformation interrupts the urban cityscape and signifies changes in an ever-evolving neighborhood. Indeed, the motel is an emblem of change—the perfect metaphor for coming and going in an overly mobile society. Hence its name, which is meant to inspire passers-by to project their dreams, wishes and ideas onto the Bates Motel’s white canvas.
For its transformation, Lamouroux worked with an ecofriendly lime wash, a biodegradable substance that interestingly is also used to protect trees from intense sunlight. The realization of the project followed a bureaucratic process that took years although the installation was supported by the city, various neighborhood associations and even palm tree specialists (filed under jobs that you only find in LA) from the start.
To me, the most remarkable aspect of this project is that, in a city where people rarely get around on foot, there is suddenly a place that practically demands you park your car in order take a closer look. There are no signs or explanations of the installation at the motel itself, which only fuels your curiosity.
For this reason, social media, particularly Instagram, is so relevant for us. In order to understand why a former blemish on the neighborhood was completely dipped in white, people search for answers online. Discoverers inform one another what is happening with the building and share personal stories that connect them with the motel. The hashtag #ProjectionLA spread rapidly and the countless pictures illustrate the varied ways in which people interact with the installation. Furthermore, the real and digital worlds are inextricably connected—after all, the core of Lamouroux’s work lies in the physical experience of the transformed space. That is why social media above all serves as an instrument for spectators to themselves become physically and emotionally become part of the installation.
The driving forces behind all of this are French natives Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird, who are also the visionaries of the concept gallery and store Please Do Not Enter located in the rediscovered downtown area. Both great fans of LA who have accompanied Lamouroux’s artistic career, they produced Projection with the support of Creative Migration, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the realization of public art in a sustainable context.
All of this can be experienced until May 10 and it will be interesting to see how the Bates Motel will transform at the end—after all, it’s practically an empty canvas for street and graffiti artists.
More Information on Projection at : www.projectionla.org
More Information on Please Do Not Enter: www.pleasedonotenter.com
Hanna Marahiel has lived in Los Angeles for a year and works as an online editor and social media strategist. In the past year, she has earned a degree in social and business communications at the UdK Berlin. When she's not exploring her new home, Marahiel works with Viacom, the music blog Polypol and Lyn Winter Creative Strategy and Communications.