Mojave Vision Quest

I’m very excited about next quarter’s design project- we are doing a master plan for the Desert Studies Center, a Cal State research center located in Zzyzx, California on the border of the Mojave National Preserve. I love the desert, even the aerial satellite view is beautiful.

The last time I passed through a desert, I stopped at the cinder cone at Coso off the 395, but we could only stay for 20 minutes because it was so hot.  This time weather is promising to be extremely pleasant and I am looking forward to exploring the lava tubes at the cinder cone lava beds.

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Technology give us amazing perspectives

I’m in the midst of finals craziness, but I wanted to share this amazing Google Earth art that someone emailed me this week. Artist Clement Valla has been collecting images of bridges from the program, because the 3D logarithm just doesn’t understand them and makes amazing modifications to their structures…

You can find more here on the artist’s website (or on google earth):

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Land and Sky II (Holiday Snapshots)

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Rogue Interventions in Landscape, Part II: A photo essay

Once the police had stopped all traffic on the Northbound 110, I came to the very immediate conclusion that I could not afford to get a citation for trespassing (if that were to happen), so I grabbed former classmate Frannie Garretson and absconded the back way into the wilderness next to the freeway.  To me, this became part two of the performance, because it was a whole new adventure into landscape.

The spiral staircase lies in the distance

Though this staircase lies in utter disorder, it maintains the feeling of sanctuary that one might find in an old cathedral - cavernous and cold.

This second experience became even more about the character of space, how we interact with space, and where we, as citizens, dare to go.  In part one of our journey, we traveled through various abandoned staircases and walkways, left to fall into decline upon new additions to the freeway.  These passageways are still open to the public, but clearly never used.  They are a dead space, both monumental and haunting, flanked by the beautiful and dystopic channelized LA River.

The river is a true transect, full of intersections

Pedestrians, Trains, Water, and Cars all meet here.

Traversing this landscape, it became very clear that we, as pedestrians, had lost the battle.  We were merely trespassing on land that had been claimed by larger things- what comes to mind is that we have been superseded by The City.  When the police spoke to the performers about why they could not perform above the freeway, they stated that the land over the 110 tunnel “was property of the highway.”  Fascinating!!

Amazingly, this former pedestrian walkway, which still allows public access, walks directly onto the freeway!!

Many of the pathways we took remain open to the public, but it is clear in their access and terminal destinations that they have not actually been considered for pedestrian walking.  Above is an image at the bottom of the spiral (fancy?) staircase that descends directly to the intersection of where the 5 Northbound turns off of the 110.  You can note, that as a walker, you can continue if you dare, but within 15 feet (see yellow arrows), you will be directly on the freeway with no barrier whatsoever to protect you from speeding cars.

View from the spiral staircase, your destination lies ahead.

The journey became increasingly interesting as we segued from concrete urban jungle to actual urban wilderness.  Going the back way from the top of the tunnel, we discovered a very walkable meadow with a pathway descending to a park, the park so unknown that it is not listed on Google Maps.  Locals, however were in full swing with their Saturday BBQs and soccer match.

A way out...

Determined to get back to where we were, but not coming the same way, we abandoned the park and wandered through the wilderness of the freeway hillsides.  These hillsides were clearly not unknown to everyone- paths, tents, and small details of human whimsy led us to the “pedestrian” pathway.  These hills clearly belong to some citizens…

People make their way

Following these clues, we found our way back to where we came from with a completely new perspective of our city.

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Bodycity Stops Traffic: Rogue Interventions in Landscape

Yesterday Bodycity took over a piece of Los Angeles not often acknowledged by the general population.  The Llano del Rio Collective performed OVERPASSAGES at the intersection of the 5 and the 110 freeways, a piece that takes its inspiration from Trisha Brown’s roof piece, performed in 1973—

“In Roof Piece, dancers telegraphed a sequence of big gestural moves from one to another along half a mile of downtown New York rooftops. No spectator could see the whole piece, but when the sequence reached the end and was relayed back the other way, you could see how the shapes decayed as each person picked them up and copied them…”

The performance was a site specific movement intervention in the landscape, taking advantage of Los Angeles’ in-between spaces, wilderness, topography, and most uniquely, the complex and ruthless freeway system. Stationed at various levels surrounding the interchange of the 110 and 5 freeways, Bodycity dancers engaged a movement cycle that would reflect eachother and slowly decay over time. Clad in flourescent yellow leggings and white shirts, the dancers acted as small reflectors in the landscape, alternately wild and concrete.

Viewers were situated at various stations, also at different levels: one at the spiral staircase that descends to the intersection of the 5/110 freeway, two at bridges above the LA river, one atop the 110 tunnel, and another on the hill that flanks the 110 on the west.  I was on top of the Northbound tunnel of the 110 (which involved climbing a steep and treacherous sandstone crag), where I could see all dancers.

Apparently, the performance was striking not only to those who signed up for the show, but to hundreds of drivers heading southbound on the 110. Within 15 minutes of beginning the performance, so many drivers had called in to report the dancer above the freeway tunnel that police shut down the entire northbound 110.  The police expected either tagging or a suicide attempt.  (A dance performance was not expected…)

The piece literally stopped traffic. It was both adventurous and poetic and gave the viewers a very different perspective on what Los Angeles can be.  If that is not a successful intervention in landscape, I don’t know what is.

Above the 110 tunnel

The magical meadow above the 110 tunnel has eucalyptus, pines, and lupines- completely unexpected landscape next to LA's oldest freeway...

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Angelus Block Feb. 10

Greetings from Angelus Block. I found the most American hard hat I could.

This control panel was very impressive.

Colorful buttons in a sea of dust

Molds for pre-cast pavers. They store hundreds.

Self Portrait with Pre-cut CMUs

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Lotus Land

Images from Lotus Land, visit on Jan 26, 2011

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