Artist Jennifer Bolande is making a poignant point with her latest art installation. In it, Bolande takes pictures of the landscape and puts them on the billboards that block their scenic view.
Titled “Visible Distance / Second Sight,” the art installation finally finds a good use for the obnoxious ad space. The billboards Bolande uses line the Gene Autry Trail in California, where many drivers see them every day. And especially on their way out to Indio for major music festivals such as Stagecoach and Coachella.
Advertisers littered the popular route with miles of billboards along the side of the road. Unfortunately, the massive rectangles block gorgeous California mountain ranges, including the San Jacinto Mountains and other ranges surrounding the Coachella Valley.
And while advertising makes the world go ’round, it just doesn’t belong some places. Because we all know ads for car dealers and carpet cleaning don’t come close to the natural landscapes of the USA.
Bolande actually borrowed from advertising strategy for the artwork. As drivers pass, the angle of the photograph perfectly aligns with the background to complete the picturesque view. “This kind of reading is referred to as a Burma-Shave,” Desert X explains. The shaving cream company “used sequential placement to create messaging that could be read only from a moving vehicle.”
So when you drive, they just look like pretty pictures. But as soon as you hit the right angle, they transform into the very thing those annoying ads block.
Bolande’s exhibit is part of the larger “Desert X 2017” program. Desert X is a giant art exhibition using Coachella Valley and its desert as the backdrop. The whole thing runs from February 25 through April 30, coinciding perfectly with the two major musical festivals.
Bolande’s work is just a taste of the exhibit, but a very cool one. More than a dozen artists showcase their work throughout the valley. Catch it while you can.