I was discussing the ugly tour busses with a coworker today (I have a display of them in the NGA staff art case currently), and we talked about the concept of ambient visuals. Think of it as a corollary to ambient noise, by which I do not mean Brian Eno's Music for Airports, but all that sound which surrounds us constantly which we filter out unconsciously (traffic sound, various machine hums, etc.). Similarly, ugly tour busses in a city like Washington, DC are also an ambient factor: large, ugly objects which we see so often that we end up not "seeing" them at all. Another great example of an ambient visual is the green metal electrical transformer boxes (or whatever they are) that dot the urban landscape. Try this: in the course of one day, count each one you see; you will be amazed at how many of these "invisible" objects you pass. This is why "hiding in plain sight" is often a good tactic. Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories knew as much when he did his billboard modifications: he wouldn't try to be sneaky and do them in the middle of the night, but would execute them in broad daylight, making himself "invisible" by simply donning a pair of workman's coveralls.
I digress! I love it when somebody says to me, "I never noticed the ugly busses before, but now I see them everywhere!" Mission accomplished.
So I loved this email from Pony Pal™ KTZachary:
Easter Sunday after leaving church (St. John's with the Obamas!) I saw two tour buses parked across H Street. One was actually a lovely shade of blue, and there was absolutely NO writing on it (other than the little federal ID by the door). The next surprise was to see that it came from Staten Island, NY, home to the worst architecture in the USA. I just knew I had to send a picture to you, for its curiosity value if nothing else.
And while I was at it, I took shots of the bus parked behind it. Par for the course bad.
Her excellent photos can be seen here. Thanks a bunch! Two glittery hooves extended skyward!
One quibble: par for the course bad? IT HAS STARS ON IT! I would have been all over that thing. I've been trying to get white stars on a blue background for ages, but the busses just aren't cooperating.
I'll get you, weird Chinese(?)-Canadian Safeway bus, and your little maple leaf, too!