Our fellow reporters’ lost looks echoed our own feelings as we stepped into the Mercedes-Benz Transmission LA event at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). While we were covering the latest automotive news deep with the confines of our offices, they had spent the day gunning the latest Mercedes-Benz SL550 around the hills surrounding Los Angeles.
We now found ourselves among rapidly growing groups of well-groomed, well-dressed, well-off artists, admirers, and critics. Actress Olivia Munn posed nearby for the numerous photographers. Bartenders at the bars juggled to fill drink orders, while the all-male serving staff squeezed between gatherings to display the latest Kogi culinary creation or whisk away champagne flutes. But to us automotive journalists, the most alien part of the event was the lack of a car—any car—anywhere on the museum lot. Only the huge silver Mercedes-Benz three-point star, suspended overhead on rust-colored girders by thick gold chains, served as a reminder we were at a car event.
The Mercedes-Benz Transmission LA, or Transmission LA: AV Club, showcases some of the latest in contemporary art. Confused about the connection? Then step next door into the adjacent MOCA museum: vehicles are art to many people, and art influences car design as well. In the museum, we were treated to a gamut of artistic expression and design.
The first display showed the “ghettobird” tunic by Sanford Biggers, a riotous, yet flowing, weave of feathers and other materials. Down several hallways, viewers were greeted by spinning “pinwheels” in various colors and textures. Artists Jim Drain and Ara Peterson state the display represented the state between “being awake and dreaming”, something drivers are all too aware. Drivers (and who doesn’t drive in Los Angeles?) especially enjoyed Ben Jones’ Roadtrip animation three of the room’s walls display a fantasized trip towards the horizon. Don’t think art confined itself to the visual at Transmission La: AV Club. The kogi food trucks tantalized the guests’ tastebuds with spicy pork soft tacos or short ribs, while books and motorized boat races revved up visitors’ minds. And up and coming rap, rave, pop-artist Santigold had the crowds gyrating in place until its closure at 10 o’clock. (It was too crowded to actually dance.)
But the crème de la crème exhibit to the car reporters was the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe. Mercedes-Benz released details of the sporty concept vehicle just before Transmission LA: AV Club opened, though images of the concept leaked onto the Internet earlier in the week. We found the Mercedes Concept Style Coupe to be more attractive in person, with an “in-yo-face” front upper and lower grill, low to the ground for a sportier stance, and better-proportioned than the larger CLS, its inspiration. The Mercedes Concept Style Coupe will make its world debut at this month’s Beijing Auto Show; why this doesn’t count as a “world debut” we’re not sure, but we’re just going with it. We look forward in covering the details and see, hear, and even touch, how the concept will influence the production version and art everywhere.