Los Angeles

17 Weird Pool Performances Your Swim Coach Doesn't Want You To Know About

In Partnership with Machine Project
As part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., Machine Project asked artists to take on the whole environment of Los Angeles and create performances shot on video and edited into short experimental films in response to notable architectural sites throughout the city.

By Bennett Williamson

Looming over the southern terminus of the 210 freeway in Pasadena are the soaring white columns and black glass walls of Ambassador Auditorium, the home of the evangelical Harvest Rock Church and the Pasadena Symphony. The auditorium was the centerpiece of the Modernist campus of Ambassador College, founded by radio evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God in 1947.

Today Maranatha High School occupies a number of the buildings on the campus, including its beautiful, once state-of-the-art pool, with south-facing floor to ceiling windows, stained glass accents, and vintage tiling details. Just outside, a railing and rusted chain guard a conspicuous stairwell that descends into the patio. Behind the locked door at the bottom is a bunker-like room where two plate glass windows provide an aquarium-style view of the diving well. These rooms were for swimming and diving coaches to observe their teams, but were largely replaced by underwater cameras.

ing is the experimental collaboration between John Wood and Max Markowitz. They make improvised music within predetermined structures, and their performances often stretch over several hours. For Wash, the video posted above, Wood and Markowitz tested the pool to find its natural resonant frequencies and harmonies, and then channeled sound through speakers installed both above and below the surface. The audience was encouraged to swim and explore an underwater viewing room over the course of ing's slowly shifting three-hour performance.

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If "Wash" leaves you wanting more, here's 17 Weird Pool Performances Your Swim Coach Doesn't Want You To Know About:

1. Busby Berkeley's famous 1930s pool choreography

2. Juliana Snapper's underwater opera "You Who Will Emerge from the Flood" (2009 - 11)

3. Ulrich Kreiger & Clay Chaplin's scuba sound composition Aquacoustica

4. Stephen Van Dyck's Belly Flop Gallery, "a Southern California nomadic performance and installation space, theater, concert hall, disco, opera house, laboratory, auditorium and space of worship that appears as a filled and functional swimming pool. "

5. Rodney Dangerfield's "Triple Lindy in Back to School" (1986)

6. Cirque du Soliel's "Le Reve" at Wynn Las Vegas

7. Brooklyn punk band Japanther accompanied by synchronized swimmers in "Dangerous When Wet" at New York University (2006)

8. Max Neuhaus 'Water Whistle' series (1971-74)

Water Whistle | Source

9. Classic So-Cal empty pool skating from Bones Brigade 2 - Future Primitive (1985)

10. In Velvet Water (1974), Chris Burden tries to breathe water in a sink, while his audience watches from the other side of a wall on a closed-circuit television broadcast.

Chris Burden | Source

11. Jenny Rogers' queer underwater spaghetti western "Trick Saddle" (2005)

TRICK SADDLE from Jenny Rogers on Vimeo.

12. Andrea Grover's mellow "Jacuzzi Movies" at CAMH

Jacuzzi Movies | Source: Gentleridevan

13. Soulja Boy's original Crank Dat instructional video, taught millions to dance the meme, inexplicably filmed in an empty pool.


Soulja Boy Tellem - How to Crank That... by davechopsuey

14. Mickey Remann's "Liquid Sound" at Toskana Therme. "Six swimming pools housed under glass domes - where bathers float effortlessly in body temperature salt water watching stunning light shows and listening to soothing music."

Liquid Sound | Source: liquidsound.com

15. Carsten Holler's sensory deprivation "Physco Tank"

Psycho Tank | Source: laughingsquid.com

16. Mike Buchet's "July 4 Cola Pool Party" at Paul McCarthy's desert compound (2010)

July 4 Cola Pool Party | Source: theboxla.com

17. Flip Schulke - Muhammad Ali underwater

Muhammad Ali underwater | Source: aliunderwater.com

See more Machine Project:

Welcome to the Field Guide to L.A. Architecture
Artbound will be chronicling the collective creation of the Machine Project "Field Guide to L.A. Architecture" by featuring a diverse offering of essays, interviews, and the artists' videos.

Jmy James Kidd and the Sunland Dancers on Flat Top Hill
Choreographer Jmy James Kidd's group, The Sunland Dancers, performed "Welcome," on Montecito Heights' Flat Top Hill at sunset in June 2013.

Jacqueline Gordon's L.A. Food Center Soundscapes
"Everyone Will Be Here Now But Me" is an immersive sound installation where the public explores endless hallways, windowless offices, and stairwells of a mixed-use building.

The HafoSafo Chorus and the Sunset Foot Clinic Sign Online
Machine Project leads a singalong underneath the spinning "Happy Foot/Sad Foot" sign on Sunset Blvd.

Cliff Hengst's Semi-Fictionalized, Drag Double-Decker Bus Tour
Artist Cliff Hengst embarked from The Beverly Hilton to perform "It's Not Right But It's OK," perhaps the first ever historic autobiographical semi-fictionalized disembodied drag double decker bus tour.

Sara Roberts' Clump and Whistle
Clump is an experiment in group/crowd behavior, a participatory performance based on a simple rule set but without fixed outcome or direction.

About the Author

Bennett Williamson was born in Boston and lives in Santa Cruz.
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