Skip Coachella. Visit Desert X
Southern California’s Coachella Valley is best known for its annual music festival, but the city of Palm Springs, in the heart of the valley, is pushing for cultural capital of another kind with a tech-heavy art and design show called Desert X. Tagged online, the exhibition’s 16 installations are spread across a 45-mile-long stretch of desert. Most use the landscape to make the visitor’s experience a sort of visual hide-and-seek. Desert X runs through April 30, and it’s free, if you can find it.
American painter and photographer Richard Prince draped an empty estate with tweets printed on 6-by-12-foot sheets of graphic design paper, many of which include nude photos. Several of the works have been stolen or removed, so Third Place is no longer open to the public.
Mirage is L.A. artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken’s ranch-style mirror-covered structure. The surfaces of a seemingly classic suburban house both absorb and reflect the surrounding landscape. “It’s architecture that you don’t see,” says Aitken.
Bahamas-born conceptual artist Tavares Strachan dug hundreds of geometric ditches across a stretch of desert the size of two football fields and filled them with neon tubes. A video feed shot by a drone flying above shows the abstracted crevasses of light spelling out “I am.”
Contemporary Italian artist Norma Jeane and Codame, a San Francisco workshop, designed ShyBot, a wheeled robot programmed to flee whenever it detects a person. It avoids people so well, even Norma Jeane can’t find it. He suspects botnapping.
The Circle of Land and Sky, by Palm Desert resident Phillip K. Smith III, is formed by 300 reflectors angled at 10 degrees. Land and sky merge or separate, depending on the movement of light through the work.
The photo billboards by Cleveland-born artist Jennifer Bolande along the Gene Autry Trail advertise the mountains they sit in front of. The work references the Burma-Shave shaving cream company’s sequential billboards that lined U.S. highways from 1925 to 1963.