10 November 2008

Nine Swimming Pools

As I flew over San Bernardino and looked down and saw the swimming pools and the houses and everything in the sun, I was more thrilled than I've ever been on arriving at any city...

David Hockney, 1970, quoted in the catalogue for Stella Brennan's Wet Social Sculpture, 2005.

Having spent some of the weekend observing the suburban excesses and follies on view in real estate guides, I found myself wondering if owning a swimming pool has the same status it did in the 1970s and 80s when Para did a roaring trade in kitset luxury. Perhaps it's the circles I move in now but I can't think of a single close acquaintance who currently owns a swimming pool. Checking the satellite-cam, I see the large circular hole that accomodated one of these (dug in the family BACK YARD by my father and assorted helpers in the early 80s, displacing a large dirt mountain that I found far more entertaining) has long since been filled. Perhaps there isn't much call for pools in Hastings now that the local mini-Disneyland, which was a crumbling shadow of its former self in the mid-90s, has been flooded to be rejuvenated as a WATERPARK. Assuming they can afford admission, this will spare kids the idignity of having to climb the fences of local school swimming facilities for after hours and holiday access.

Earlier this year I read in the paper that British police are concerned about a new trend in which young people are using google maps to locate swimming pools where they can have daytime parties while the owners are at work. Although I can find no trace of it online, the original 2005 incarnation of Stella Brennan's Wet Social Sculpture at St Paul St included an aerial photograph of a chlorine-rich suburb, one of those leafy areas Brennan refers to in the catalogue as the swim-zone.

This all sounds like a good enough excuse for another tribute to Ed Ruscha's book works, this time in the spirit of his 1968 Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, at least one of which appears to have been photographed by climbing a fence. Here's a nine-stop tour of Auckland's North Shore, preceded by a quick visit to the PARNELL BATHS, currently featured in the exhibition and publication Long Live the Modern.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Or, for a sense of what Hockney and Ruscha were talking about, you can zoom at random on any of THESE BLOCKS in Beverly Hills - and here's a quick peek in the PLAYBOY Mansion.

Image: Stella Brenna, Wet Social Sculpture, 2005, installation detail


Art from Space is an exploration of art-related phenomena that manifests in interesting ways on Google’s aerial maps. It is also an experiment in curatorial practice; collecting, presenting and contextualising items in ways that users can explore, free of curator-imposed framing and sequencing. This blog is Art from Space’s developmental musings made public, where items are introduced to the project in real time, rather than awaiting the grand unveiling of a completed exhibition. Specific locations of interest are highlighted in CAPS and linked to a map for further exploration. Visit the mother ship HERE.