Scott Hove is the dreamer of Cakeland located in Downtown Los Angeles.
His exhibition is tucked away in a corner of Chinatown, blazened with a bright sign of intertwining dragons. Visual Atelier 8 had the absolute delight of capturing the artist’s vision by experiencing a walkthrough interview. Hove extrapolated on the cerebral tellings of this beautifully decadent viewing starting with the first room of the venue, known as the Black Path.
“It represents sort of a chaos, or sort of like after giving birth and your safe holding environment. You get thrown out of the wilderness. And I call this the Black Path because it’s like this period of darkness and you don’t know where it’s going to go, you know, but it’s this process that you must undergo in order to have this moment of revelation later on. There’s little clues. Nothing’s explicit. You know, it’s a piece of art. There’s a sense, there’s a language, but there’s most importantly- atmosphere. I want the atmosphere to really involve your whole entire senses. And this room, as dark as it is, prepares you for the breakthrough of going into the color and the light saturation that’s in the progressing rooms after this.”
Walking through the darkness and emerging through the curtains, comes the Pure Light room where a photo of Hove’s mother watches over its stirrings.
“So you have this moment of revelation, stylistically this room is kind of a homage to my mom. These are a lot of her antiques and her personal belongings. She was an interior designer and she did some rooms that were started in the style. Of course, I took it super over the top of the frosting and, you know, 4,000 crystals and all that.”
An elevated nook along the wall invites visitors in with its mirrors angled to depict an infinity.
“I like to continue this sort of disorientation and sense of depth that’s not there. And just the layers of depth and tunnels and not, not being sure what’s real and what’s not, is an important part of the work, the pleasant disorientation.”
An enormously lavish cake sits in the center of the room, illuminated by countless candles and frosting that looks good enough to eat. Hove discusses the significance of cake as a symbol.
“The cake represents moments, peak moments in our lives. Happiness, celebration, marriages. Cake is always present for personal celebration and personal indulgence. It just has a representation of peak moments. Other types of peak experiences. Our lives are like beauty, spiritual revelations, and things like that. So it’s just a representation of a peak moment. In that way, people have a built-in conditioned response to cakes, which is really sentimental and emotionally uplifting. Having the cakes, it gives me access to people’s uplifted emotions, which means that I can tell a deeper story when I start sprinkling in the darker aspects. So it creates sort of a counterpoint between these peak moments and then the dark moments that are scattered throughout.”
The rooms of Cakeland thrive with violence, whether it is perceptively gorgeous or fatal. The artist explains his approach to instilling such a design throughout the experience with creating the various motifs and environments.
“I go with a feeling. I do really pretty ones and I do really gnarly ferocious ones. And this room was so warm and pleasant. It needed a little, uh, a little fear and a little ferocity. I just wanted it to be pure aggression, but dripping with a venom, but also dripping with an elegance and a real beauty. So venom and elegance. They’re just so far away from each other, but theoretically, you can combine them into a really fierce combination. So that’s what that was. And I’ve done a lot of these pieces and every time I try to refine and distill the feeling. And this is one I felt hit a peak of that ferocity, which sort of compliments the peak of the beauty.”
“We tend to separate where you have to cast out the darkness and just invite the light in, which is cool and all. But we can’t keep them separate. They have to be integrated. So this whole experience, I consider a reintegration of polarities. So we’re trying to bring the polarities back together into the original whole. Out in nature, things are magnificent, but there the light and the dark are coexisting on every level, at every moment.”
Hove answers our question, one that is probably lingering on everyone’s minds, does he have a culinary background?
“Nope, never did, but I was always fascinated by fake food. Like why it had such a presence. Seeing fake cakes in windows, like fake Japanese sushi displays. It always was so fascinating to me that somebody would take all this time and spend all these resources making a beautiful piece of food that’s completely fake. But it still transports to your mind, it gets you hungry. It gets you interested. It gets you focused on this payoff. Even though it’s plastic and fake, it still gets you excited. I love that type of absurdity and how our brains are programmed to accept artifice as something. Like the representation can sometimes have more payoff than the actual experience. This is really indulgent, but having a little piece of cake might be a letdown compared to this sort of extreme-like representation of what the cake is. So this is the beauty moment.”
The detail in this exhibition is incredibly fascinating, from the floor to the ceiling. The visionary explains the process behind its humble beginnings in construction.
“There were about four months of really intense construction. A three-person crew, me and two other guys just like building walls, getting new electrical down, just building the structure. Once that was completed, then I could go just doing the multiple layers of frosting, painting the floors, installing the lighting, and just starting to tweak it and allow the fantasy to emerge out of the materials. That transformation is just the best part of the whole thing. It goes from just a bunch of obvious materials, but eventually, the materials disappear, and then the fantasy emerges. Like a beautiful phantom.”
Scott Hove’s Cakeland takes up an entire world in a modest space. The planes of such an experience were so skillfully expanded upon, it is an impressive feat to admire.
“It’s a very small space. This part of the installation is only 850 square feet. It’s small, but with the hundreds of mirrors and the multiple overlapping geometric perceptions of space. So in a 6×12 foot section, we can create a space that is a couple of thousand square feet in our minds. Just having an elliptical thing where the angles are always changing. No straight lines, no grids. I don’t like grids. We have enough grids already, Downtown LA is a grid. If you build out a round or elliptical shape, which is just a really elegant shape, every time you move, things slowly emerge.”
Cakeland is located in Downtown Los Angeles in California, where it is currently on view by private appointment.
Film by Eric Minh Swenson
Images with courtesy of Scott Hove