Noguchi’s Detroit fountain and the end of the industrial age


I am a fan of Isamu Noguchi.  I think his sculptures and gardens are sublime.  I admire his authenticity and craftsmanship.  Yet this work stands out as an oddity.

To me, this statement, made in the late 1970s, signifies the end of Detroit, perhaps even the end of the industrial age.  It is metal made useless, energy wasted in light and water. As it failed on the level of urban revitalization, it also symbolizes the uselessness of “creativity” to solve urban problems.

Just think of the energy being wasted here – on a nice night in early Autumn.  To an audience of no one.

Perhaps he needed the money or the fame.  But maybe the alien-like creature he landed in the barren 14 acres of Hart Park was the metaphorical equivalent of a message in a bottle.  That would be more like him.

(Yes I realize that much of his intended design did not make it to construction but I think this was another symbol of the futility of the entire effort.)

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