Union square is an interesting place. There’s almost always something going on in the square. It’s always called something ‘in the square’ too. art In The Square. concert In The Square. movie In The Square. Today it’s bad hotel art In The Square.
Westin hotels has built a rock garden In The Square. I wish I had the camera but my satchel is filled with the laptop today (I’m posting from the square now) and there aren’t any pics on flickr yet.
I’ve become fairly inured to bad hotel art. It’s so omnipresent. Salus had some particularly egregious examples. Tasteless watercolours of golf courses purchased, literally, from wallmart. But even these took me months to notice. You just end up tuning it out.
But for some reason I’m not glossing over this rock garden. I think it has something to do with the uncanny.. ahhh gah! An air raid siren just went off. Ow my ears. “this is a test of the outdoor announcement system” jeez it works.
ow. Anyway I think it has to do with the uncanny valley principle. Most bad rock gardens (I think there are about 10 good ones) are just so rediculous that you don’t register them as rock gardens.
But whoever designed this one was clearly inspired by the real thing. It has a Mount Fuji like the garden in Ginkaku-ji and a rock formation extremely reminiscent of the garden in Ryōan-ji (pics easy to find of both).
Unfotunately the mount fuji is a small unordered pile of gravel and the Ryōan-ji bit wasn’t copied closely enough to maintain any of it’s ‘restfull dynamism’ (you like that? i just made that up). The rakeing is uneven in the extreme where it follows the contours of rocks and Mt Fuji. They ended up with some dirt mixed in with their gravel so in the middle of a very long empty stretch the grey gravel turns all brown. But the absolute nail in the coffin is the moss.
So real rock gardens have been around for a couple of hundred years. Which means that carefull tending has left these lovely formations of moss around the rocks. Here they had an hour in the morning so they couldn’t really grow moss. So instead they dug up clumps of moss from somewhere and planted said clumps in the gravel between some of the rocks. They don’t even make up a coherent moss bed. They left gaps between all the clumps so it looks like ten or twenty green toupes crawled into the garden. Not a great effect.
So yeah. Their slogan is ‘this is how it should feel’. So stay at Westin if you want to feel uncomfortable and out of place.
In the gardeners defense he looks very earnest if completely lost and his boss looks like a douche.
Wow who knew I could write at length about that?