Rock Groupies Attend First Day of 'Levitated Mass'

Rock groupies made a Sunday pilgrimage to attend a "Levitated Mass" at LACMA, raising their camera phones like lighters at a concert.

The environmental sculpture began as a quarry curiosity, then its uneventful slow commute became collaborative municipality performance art that helped push along the 340-ton boulder through an 11 night and 105-mile journey from Jurupa Valley, in Riverside County, to its custom trench on Wilshire Blvd. Once arriving at LACMA, earth artist Michael Heizer's tried 68 angles before deciding on its current position, tweeted Riverside's Press Enterprise, part of the media throng.

Multiple angles? As in testing different moods of a rock, wondered our onsite observer: "Pensive rock? Edgy rebel rock?"

Whatever the final pose was intended to be, it's now set in stone. After the 11 a.m. ribbon cutting, which had the elusive artist Michael Heizer present but not speaking, rock stalkers rumbled forward to tweet and take photos around and under the installation, hovering over a 456-foot-long ramped trench.

The ramp, officially called a slot, is part of the "Levitated Mass" aesthetic. Once the gridlock of people clears, descending through the installation can give your natural instinct a misperception -- your peripheral vision "sees" the boulder rise over, above, and past you.

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The idea was decades in the making, says LACMA. Heizer's idea of a "massive rock perched atop a long slot in the earth" began in 1969 as an project in the Nevada desert. Then, the smaller 120-ton rock "buckled" one of two cranes he was using to place the rock on the slot, putting the land art project on hold.

"Levitated Mass" as a modern symbolic stone monolith, which has been a source of critism and commentary, also became an interesting comment on the region's fascination with its roads disrupted. Media and public tracked the rock's roll through a long list of zip codes like it was a slow chase, and at each stop the local villagers came to witness the day's stop.

More photos can be found at LACMA's website, and as seen by shots like those by photographer Ted Soqui, the granite as art will be a muse for quite a while. That goes for art critics as well, as William Poundstone expounds at ArtInfo:"On opening day, the main impression was of the slot's floor as a road of human life. This is very atypical for land art and isn't likely to be repeated."

While mingling with the rock is free, residents in those zip codes that were in the path of the boulder are being offered free admission to LACMA until July 1.

‏Photo by C. Dillon ‏@cdillonmh

Top and bottom photo via ‏C. Dillon @cdillonmh. Additional reporting by Helen Ly.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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It is now free admission to the rock all the time. Until July 1 the museum was free. Now only Michael Heiser's Granite Monolithic Tribute to the ancients Levitated Mass is free for the masses. On June 24th we were in the first wave of people who descended below and rose around the 3.4 ton leviathan. Having just returned from a meditative holiday at healing centers in The Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu in Peru , we were in the habit of raising our arms in praise to the granite structures and taking photos. On the 24th someone around 1120am yelled "A wave" and everyone did it jointly in a California zen event consciousness experience. When they realized we were taking optical illusion Boulder Holding photos and the rest is history.

The Mystics (Peruvians with Inca blood) worshiped as The Mother, a Inca interpretation of the Virgin Mary as she relates to the Incas as an earth goddess known as pachamama.