iPhone-wielding gawkers blinded by whiteout on Sunset

IMG_0044Locals have long called the scary-looking dilapidated structure at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Bates Ave. the Bates Motel, though that’s not really its name. It just reminds people of the iconic motel in Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The former Sunset Pacific Hotel has been long-abandoned. Back when he was a City Councilman, Mayor Eric Garcetti called this one of the most troublesome properties in the city. You still can’t step inside.

But yesterday afternoon, the streets around it were infested with iPhone toting curiosity seekers, gazing at the bright, gleaming, bizarre site: a vacant three story structure surrounded by palm trees, all completely coated in blinding white.

Traffic slowed as people stopped to take pictures. Some people knew this was here. Others just stumbled on it.

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Even the people who were aware of this long-planned work of public art weren’t entirely clear what the deal was.

The artist Vincent Lamouroux dubbed it with the suggestive title: PROJECTION. Naturally, people thought that meant something might be projected onto the whitewashed structure. The title, it seems, is a metaphor for what onlookers “project” onto this now gleaming building.

When an onlooker named Brian learned that this was, indeed, a finished work he still saw it in a positive light.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong for getting people together in an actual space to think about abstract ideas. Whether or not it’s a real projection or theoretical projection we’re gathering a community of people together and that is a good thing,” he said. “There is an ingrained desire for tribal style community and that means bonfires and people gathered around them. This is kind of a bonfire. That’s what I’ll project onto it.”

According to the artist’s statement, it is “an architectural model transposed in an urban environment… a transitioning façade, an abandoned motel as a commonplace, archetype of the constant mobility of contemporary society.” (Read more at the DNA blog).

To see the old Bates Motel, you can drive down Sunset until the elements – natural or otherwise—have their way with the structure. The building’s scheduled to be demolished sometime this fall, and turned into a “mixed-use” building with housing, retail, restaurants, parking, and a gym.

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