Which part of this news story do you think is trivial? The Art Newspaper reports that Italy is banning all cruise ships inside Venice's lagoon following complaints about polluting and spoiling views traditionally seen through the Bridge of Sighs. Did you guess the blocked water view? Certainly, pollution is a big issue. But I'd argue that closing off a treasured sight is no small thing. Consider the following.

An eyesore

I once had a studio in Channelside a block from the Port of Tampa. Surrounding mid-rises narrowed my window view of the channel, but still, I could see reflections of the sun and moon on the water that daily took me out of a world of concrete into a natural one.

In Lilliput

One night, though, rather than moonlight on the water, I saw an immense cruise ship 14 decks tall, lit up top to bottom, and docked so near my loft that I could see passengers reveling, and hear them, too. It was an upending scene not only because it closed off my water view, but also because the ship's colossal size was so out of proportion to my studio that I felt miniaturized, like one of those Lilliputians in Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" where all the inhabitants are only six inches tall.

Reason why

Here's some context for referencing "Gulliver's Travels" – admittedly an over-reaction. The outsized ship resurrected a childhood memory that doesn't fade. I was maybe four or five years old, making chalk drawings on a walkway to my house.

I don't remember what I was drawing, only that all at once I saw a giant oblong shadow fall onto my picture. Looking up, I saw what I learned later was an airship called a dirigible. It looked so huge on a street of low-slung homes that I ran from it. Since then, structures out of human scale often rattle me.

This is why I can't watch the last scene in "The Planet of the Apes" when Charlton Heston rides a horse along the shoreline of a deserted beach.

Behind a high rock, an image abruptly comes into view of the 17-foot-tall head of Lady Liberty toppled in the sand. In the vast openness of sand, sea, and sky, the head looks monstrously out of place – not unlike the zeppelin and the cruise ship look.

Too much information, I know, but I don't see enough art or architecture writers talking about scale.

Newsweek called this movie's ending "the antidote to aggressively hopeful blockbusters." The magazine was referring to big-budget movies, but I think of blockbusters in the literal sense - structures that bust street.

Beverly Pepper

None of this is to say that every structure that violates human scale is bad. Sometimes structures are larger than life to make a point. Great cathedrals, for example, are meant to summon awe. But I'm thinking of the towering outdoor stainless-steel sculpture of Beverly Pepper, who died last month at age 97. Pepper's hyperallergic story noted how the highly polished finishes of her steelworks mirror the surrounding landscape and create the illusion of appearing and disappearing.

Wait, there's more. Pepper told Hyperallergic that besides reflecting the surrounding land, she also wanted people looking at her works reflected in them "so that there's a constant exchange going on between the viewer and the work." It goes without saying that there's no such exchange with cruise ships, zeppelins, or a felled Statue of Liberty.