Before seeing it, I was cynical about the Levitated Mass as a piece of art: it is, after all, a boulder. There are no shortage of them at your local backpacking trail or campsite. But the stone’s very anonymity is what makes it interesting within its context. Sitting in LACMA’s backyard, it stands — sorry, levitates — in contrast with a 99 Cent Store in one direction and the towering Variety building in another, two extreme emblems of human civilization. Cars pass by, filling the air down the street with smog and noise. The rock sits, motionless but, as you pass beneath it, silently powerful. An enormous tree might serve a similar purpose, of creating a reminder of nature within an urban context — the particular use of a massive stone, with the accompanying mythology of its arduous voyage to LACMA, presents the added significance of human engineering might. The rock itself is meaningless; our dominance of it is not. I haven’t read anything on the artist’s intentions, and I doubt it’s meant as a critique of our ecological arrogance rather than simply a grand installation, but I can’t help thinking its fitting destiny lies in floating out to sea in a century or so, carried by the rising tides of global warming.
The Kubrick exhibit is really great, by the way.