Live Blogging from a Parking Lot in Denver

by Paddy Johnson on July 18, 2013 · 2 comments Events

Live blogging the Biennale of the Americas

It’s 1 am in Denver, (3 am in NYC), and I’m on some seriously jacked wifi. It took fifteen minutes just find a signal, let alone figure out whether it’s stable enough to support posting. I’m taking my chances.

Right now, I’m sitting on an inflatable bed, in an inflatable (like) room, on scissor lift that extends outside the roof of a white mini van. My job is to sleep in this thing and report. First factoid to relay: It’s art, and the piece is called, “The Hotel Rehearsal” by Alex Schweder. It’s part of Denver’s Biennial of the Americas.

A few initial observations:

1. The scissor lift extends three stories off the ground, but my crippling fear of heights has squashed whatever  vista that elevation may have offered. The view from the parking lot gives a clear sight line to a cement wall and a few of Denver’s prized cookie cutter hotels so the loss may not be that great. Still, in the 15 seconds I spent with the lift fully extended, the view did seem a tad more exotic. #artcriticfail.

2. Technically speaking the van can be parked anywhere, but liability issues make that impossible. So, no parking on side of a mountain because, apparently, that’s more legally treacherous than parking lots?

3. The air pressurizer that keeps the room’s plastic windows expanded makes a lot of noise. I”m blessed with the ability to sleep through a lot, but this noise may test those abilities.

4. Hotel guests have to learn to press a larger number of buttons to make the room work. There’s a button to inflate the couch into a bed, a button and a switch to raise and lower the hotel, and some other buttons that do things I haven’t figured out yet. It’s fun, but a little nerve wracking regardless. I’m not the most tech savvy person out there.

5. My bed is inflatable and thus sinks when I sit on it. It’s not that bad, but it does remind me of my student days visiting friends who wanted to put me up, but had no money to do so comfortably.

6. Reading material: Schweder’s provided a beginners guide to the stars called “The Stars”, which isn’t a bad idea since the roof’s made of transparent plastic. I haven’t cracked the book yet though, since, well, it’s late. Also provided is a guide to Denver’s bars. I assume this could be of use to someone.

7. Electronics. You can plug in a computer and usb powered electronics from the outlet panel. That’s awesome.

8. Pee update: Not that I need to use the bathroom yet, but the jug I identified in an earlier post is not used to hold urine, but shower water. That was  a real relief since I worried I would have to suffer the indignity of having my urine and shit publicly displayed.

9. I’m happy to offer a sleep report in the morning, but, it seems a little beside the point. It’s not the quality of sleep one gets, but the overall quality of experience that makes this work special. So far, Schweder’s getting top grades, even if this rattling of this air pressurizer isn’t exactly ideal. I was given a private tour of the room, and had a group of four people wave goodnight to me before I said goodnight. It was nothing short of amazing.

10. Best conversation of the night came from a passerby: You blogging in there? For art? Oh, I can respect that. That’s bad ass!

And on that note, I’m going to bed. Catch me on twitter tomorrow.

A view of the van as the room inflates

That's me, peaking my head out from behind the curtains.

*********

It’s 6 am in Denver (8 am in New York), and I’m feeling a little less generous than I did last night. A few groggy observations:

1. Turn off the lights in Hotel Rehearsal and the room looks much the same as when they’re on; illuminated. This parking lot is brightly lit, and the curtains don’t block light so much as they keep you from feeling like you’re on public display while you sleep. I would have been happier if they’d served the dual purpose of blocking light and offering privacy.

2. It takes a while to get used to the gentle swaying of the van. I’m told that that’s necessary—the mobile hotel would not be stable if it did not move a little—but it’s still a little nerve-wracking when you’re trying to sleep. Oddly enough, it’s very relaxing now.

3. I woke up only to discover that vague feeling of discomfort around my ears was caused by earrings I forgot to take out. That’s no one’s fault but my own, but I can’t say I’m happy with myself right now. I have a very bad headache.

4. The tube that creates airflow in the room is also the source of an enormous amount of noise. Luckily, it can be muffled with a towel. Unluckily, that towel fell out of the tube sometime last night and I didn’t notice it. I have a feeling my sleep would have been a little more restful had I realized what had happened.

The view of the sky alone is beautiful here.

5. Aside from the noise, the hotel really is the perfect place for blogging. The wifi connection turned out to be much more stable than I thought, and the white curtains with the blue sky above is incredibly peaceful. I’m looking forward to experiencing the hotel with the curtains down, since the windows provide a 180 degree view of the city.

6. I have to figure out how to lower the lift and let myself out of the room in the next few minutes. I’ll do a lot for art, but I draw the line at peeing in toilets I don’t trust.

************

It’s 8:30 in Denver (10:30 in New York) and I’ve checked out of The Hotel Rehearsal. The process scared the shit out of me, as at one point in my check out process, I inflated the room to such a degree that I was pushed out of the shower/staging area. I was sure I’d broken the art (even though I recall being told that the piece technically doesn’t use an inflatable process.)

Anyway, it’s all good. No lives were lost. Some good views were had. I forgot to take a photo of the van in the daylight, (you’ll have to cut me some slack, I’m working on three hours sleep here,) but I did get a nice shot of the morning light from inside the room. My parting shot.

A view from inside, with the curtains down.

  • a.reader

    Excellently reported. For part 2 you should set up a strobe light and have a VIP dance party.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Paddy Johnson

    Ha, thanks! Someone on Facebook mentioned I should trash the hotel, which seems like a similarity minded idea.

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