Tuesday, August 14, 2007

21c Hotel Louisville

This past weekend Nate & I were in Louisville for a wedding and stayed at this great hotel I thought I'd share a bit about. It's called 21c (as in 21st century) and combines a contemporary art museum with a three-star hotel. This means that you constantly turn the corner and find something delightful -- or disturbing, but worth talking about regardless. Nate & I laughed at the pretentiousness of Marc Swanson's exhibit which was full of promises with nothing behind them and lots of fancy phrases that didn't really connect with the work, or which the blandness of the work undermined. But found some other stuff completely charming.

The elevator lobby has an exhibit entitled "Text Rain" which projects your image on a screen with falling letters. You can then "catch" the letters and make phrases. We took some pictures, but I'm not sure how they came out. I'll upload them if they worked. Until then, here's a thumbnail (the only thing you can copy from the website) to show you the idea.

Then there were the crazy penguins: These guys are about 4 ft high and the staff constantly moves them -- into the elevator, the lobby and even the guest rooms! Torn between adorable and creepy. My favorite (aside from the text rain) was a circular coffee table with a glass top that I can't find online. The interior is partially filled with two sand dunes and there is a fan which blows the sand around; if you move the table, you effect the geography inside the table.

Finally, a creepy, but interesting installation in the restrooms: "In the Absence of Voyeurism" which consists of tiny tv screens embedded in the mirror. On the screens are a series of eyes, but they are from people who are blind thus there's this contrast between the potential for voyeurism and the inability of these eyes to see -- further played on by the idea that the screens are themselves seen, but can't transmit a visual back to an audience. The rest of the bathroom also played with this idea because there was a window-mirror that looked out into the hallway, allowing those inside the bathroom to be completely shielded (unless you knew it was there, which I didn't when I first walked past it) from eyes while watching those outside. Neat concepts of constructing space where the object is the only one who can truly be voyeuristic -- despite the appearance of multiple perspectives.

The hotel itself was lovely, too. King sized beds, 600-thread count sheets, huge bathtub (high ceilings, a curved shower rail, etc). The only things that we had trouble with were: room service breakfast (they didn't have soy milk despite their website advertising it) and I had some mild questions about how clean it actually was (just noticed a few minor things. I'd recommend it if it weren't the price of a three-star hotel! Though since it was an off-peak week, the groom negotiated an excellent deal (about 1/3rd off the regular price!).

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