Los Angeles Auto Show 2008

The promotion of car culture is clearly evident in the massive advertisements bestowed upon motorists to enable them to drive almost anywhere as cheaply and efficiently as possible. The true costs of driving an automobile are obfuscated, for their disclosure would certainly reduce auto use and make alternative means more attractive. This would not be compatible with the interests of the oil, car, road construction, or development industries, all of whom contribute heavily to politicians on the local and national levels. And yet, with concerns rest aside, crowds gladly flock to the LA Auto Show.

One could say the LA Auto Show wonderfully demonstrates how our collective obsession with automobiles has savaged our cities and diminished our sense of place and community. However, I beg to differ. The LA Auto Show, along with it’s parking garage, provide, not only the dominant architectural features of downtown’s event center, but also provide the heart and soul, respectively, of the community with which it appeals to. Cars and car culture have contributed significantly to our urban condition, our communities, and our environment. They have only added. What started out as a promise for a better life based on unlimited mobility, has become a modern day obsession, as solitary commuters idle in endless traffic jams wondering where all of the cars came from. And this is great.

What a fantastic idea- to curate a show that never ends (if you don’t want it to). To arrive at the venue, not only does the drive to the event await you, but, especially for those commuting, there are traffic jams. Miles and miles of healthy traffic jams. And upon arrival to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the show is exhibited, and in the ‘heart’ of Los Angeles where it is most difficult to arrive in mid-morning-mid-day-mid-night (and the betweens) traffic, stark beauty presents itself in the shape of a parking garage filled with even more vehicles. For the ultimate mobile enthusiast, this journey to the event, this event, is unmatched.

The displays of the show are separated according to dealerships, and also separated by different showing wings specific to the architectural programming of the site. Naturally, the high end vehicles, or luxury on four wheels, take seat in more private/intimate settings. Swoon. Other rooms are reserved for the more common cars, or the common audience. These cars are not of lesser design, but they do leave you with a similar sensation one gets from thinking about the Porsche Boxster (the affordable Porsche). The LA Auto Show’s displays and vehicle curating of new up and coming car fashions is very impressive and very accomplished technology wise, however, I argue the parking garage as the most interesting and revealing. If only art exhibitions could provide such an irony: drive to only drive more and have thoughts of driving whilst one the way to an exhibition full of other drivers and cars who then drive home in their cars only to see other drivers in cars until you arrive home and park in the garage and then park in your bed and dream of spinning chrome rims.

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