There Was Once a Secret Pool in the Mojave Desert

For a few years, there was an oasis in the Mojave Desert. It wasn't a natural wellspring, nor the fever dream of a weary traveler. It was an 11-foot-by-5-foot pool platform with clean, cool water that was open and available for use with one minor caveat: you had to find it first.

Social Pool was an art installation created by Austrian-born artist Alfredo Barsuglia. It was created in 2014 and existed as a self and audience-maintained work. To access the pool, interested parties first had to go to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood (Barsuglia was in residence there in 2006) to retrieve one of four keys that permitted access to the pool. The staff also provided GPS coordinates and a few guidelines, according to LAist. Among them: don’t copy the key, bring it back within 24 hours, and replenish the pool with a gallon of fresh water.

Juliet Bennett Rylah of LAist didn’t reveal the exact location of Social Pool but wrote in her account that it was about two and a half hours from LA, and the journey included some unpaved roads and a bit of hiking. A solar-powered filter, a chlorination system, and handy skimmer kept the water cool and clean.

A pool-seeker couldn't call the center ahead of time to make sure a key was available, nor were they available to put on reserve, which was part of the point.

“I don't want people to go there and combine it with other things," Barsuglia told the Los Angeles Times. "The idea is that it all starts the moment you pick up the key. You then have the experience of getting there: of maybe sitting in traffic, of the walk in the desert, of enjoying the pool if you find it, then returning the key to the MAK Center. That is all part of the project."

The artist also told the paper that the piece was “about the effort people make to reach a luxury good," but Social Pool arguably also said something about the people who sought it out. It was enjoyed and preserved while it was up, but Barsuglia told LAist that even if it wasn’t, that would've been OK:

“I don't think that someone takes the effort to visit the pool to destroy it. Yes, I trust the participants, but as I mentioned before, if someone comes to destroy the work, it's sad but part of the project—of letting the project develop by itself, without my or anybody's influence. To sit in the pool and watch the scenery is outstanding. I think it's so nice that nobody would conceive the idea to damage it, but to prevent it for the next visitor. But you never know… we will see."

Between Social Pool, the Mojave Phone Booth, and the desert’s airplane graveyard, musical sand dunes, and abandoned mines, it seems like a wonderland of curiosities.

Note: Social Pool was closed to the public on September 30, 2014. This article has been edited to reflect the closure. 

Banner image via Vimeo.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Art Lovers in England, Rejoice: France's Famous Bayeux Tapestry is Coming to the UK
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of France’s most prized national treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry, is officially heading to England for exhibition. The loan will mark the first time the fragile 11th century work has left France in nearly 1000 years, according to The Washington Post.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced news of the loan in mid-January, viewed by some as a gesture to smooth post-Brexit relations with Britain, ABC reports. The tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, a historically important event replete with guts and glory.

Stretching for 210 feet, the Bayeux Tapestry’s nine embroidered panels tell the tale of Harold, Earl of Wessex, who swore an oath to support the right of William, Duke of Normandy, to the English throne once King Edward (a.k.a. Edward the Confessor) died without an heir. But after Edward's funeral at Westminster Abbey, Harold breaks his oath to William so he could be crowned king instead. Believing he was the rightful ruler, William—today remembered as William the Conqueror—decides to wage war and ultimately defeats Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

The historical narrative has endured for centuries, but the tapestry's provenance has been lost to time. Experts think that the artwork may have been created in England, shortly after the Battle of Hastings, although it’s unclear who designed and embroidered the scenes. Its original owner, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the half-brother of William the Conqueror, may have commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. He became Earl of Kent after the Battle of Hastings, and this new title would have afforded him access to skilled artisans, The Guardian explains.

The Bayeux Tapestry is currently on display in the town of Bayeux in Normandy. It likely won’t leave France until 2020, after conservators ensure that it’s safe to move the artwork. According to The Telegraph, the tapestry might be be displayed at the British Museum in 2022.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
This Snow Sculpture of a Car Was So Convincing Cops Tried to Write It a Ticket
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.

Winter is a frustrating time to be on the road, but one artist in Montreal has found a way to make the best of it. As CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports, his snow sculpture of a DeLorean DMC-12 was so convincing that even the police were fooled.

Simon Laprise of L.S.D Laprise Simon Designs assembled the prank car using snow outside his home in Montreal. He positioned it so it appeared to be parked along the side of the road, and with the weather Montreal has been having lately, a car buried under snow wasn’t an unusual sight.

A police officer spotted the car and was prepared to write it a ticket before noticing it wasn’t what it seemed. He called in backup to confirm that the car wasn’t a car at all.

Instead of getting mad, the officers shared a good laugh over it. “You made our night hahahahaha :)" they wrote on a fake ticket left on the snow sculpture.

The masterpiece was plowed over the next morning, but you can appreciate Laprise’s handiwork in the photos below.

Snow sculpture.

Snow sculpture of car.

Snow sculpture of car.

Note written in French.

[h/t WGCL-TV]

All images courtesy of Simon Laprise.


More from mental floss studios