All images: Jason Koebler
Roughly 20 miles south of the bright lights of Vegas are these bright rocks. Look at these fucking rocks! They’re so big, they’re so bright! Look at these bright fucking rocks. They’re good rocks. I just went and saw these rocks and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Rocks of this size and color do not spontaneously appear in neat stacks along the side of desolate stretches of desert highways. The project, called Seven Magic Mountains, opened to the public Wednesday and was dreamt up by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, who has spent the last five years overseeing the collection, painting, and shaping of these positively massive, bright rocks—boulders, really. These rocks are so bright that iPhones cannot take photos of these rocks in direct sunlight without their colors bleeding into the hazy sky around them:
All images: Jason Koebler
Rondinone says the rocks symbolize the “contrast and continuity from nature to culture,” which makes sense when you consider that they’re situated 20 minutes outside the most fake city mankind has ever built.
I didn’t really know that backstory when I went to visit the rocks, but I think I got it, anyway. Besides being wholly artificial, Vegas also feels absolutely enormous. But then you leave the city, and you’re surrounded by vast expanses of nothing. The ever-present buttes, mountains, and rock formations rise from the horizon that’s is consistently some distance away that’s totally undecipherable by the human eye. “I get whatever the opposite of claustrophobia is out here,” the person I checked out these magic mountains with told me. Vegas is nothing.
And then, these colorful rocks. You walk up to them, and they are huge. Each rock is much larger than you or I, each would easily crush you should it fall over. They are obviously creations of the Earth, a totally natural thing. But then, they are bright pink or lime green or a shade of magenta that is likely copyrighted by the Crayola corporation and they are stacked on top of each other and none of it makes sense. Nature doesn’t stack things in neat little columns like this. Nature is sometimes bright, but nature is never this bright. Not in Nevada. They make for good Instagram pictures.
So you go look at these fucking rocks, and they are cool, and they are large. And then you walk away, and you see the much larger mountains behind them and the rocks look small. And then you leave.
The rocks are free to the public and will be there for at least the next two years. The rocks are the best thing I’ve ever seen in the vicinity of Las Vegas.