A six-story-tall floating "Rubber Duck" is making its West Coast debut at the Port of Los Angeles, where it will lead more than a dozen battleships and sailboats in the Tall Ships Festival L.A. parade [...]
Dubbed the world's largest rubber duck, the giant inflatable was created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.
"The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties," Hofman said on the event's website. "It can relieve the world's tensions as well as define them." — latimes.com
Adorable? Certainly. Humorous? Obviously. Architecture? Maybe.
According to Hofman's website, the Rubber Duck "doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation... The Rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!" This description accounts for all rubber duckies ever. What distinguishes this Rubber Duck is where its been. The giant inflatable has appeared on the shores of Beijing, Pittsburgh, Sydney, Osaka, São Paulo and others, to delight folks around the world. The ocean is the globalized world's bathtub, and this giant duck its bath toy.
Hofman claims the duck "doesn't have a political connotation", but its difficult to not see it as a symbol for globalized commerce. With the same universal cuteness the world-over, it visits ports (such as in Los Angeles) that support global shipping infrastructures, networking economies and cultures with a universally accessible cuteness. The duck's path is paved by human, economic forces, not natural ocean ones — unlike its "Friendly Floatees" brethren, a brand of plastic bath toys that helped oceanographers model ocean currents when a shipment leaked into the Pacific in 1992. Like the Friendly Floatees incident, the cuteness contrasts with the grave implications of urban infrastructure on our oceans. The Duck is a Venturian duck for globalization. It's a hard sell to call it "architecture" straight out, but it fits Venturi's bill when function is beaten out by symbolism. No one can actually play with the thing, after all.
Looking into those beady black eyes, I see an optimistic traveler, floating the globe looking for a home, not realizing its home is everywhere.