Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 365: The Grand Finale

into the Venice Beach Sunset and LA's odd natural world

It seems fitting to abruptly end an epic project in LA. It is been an amazing process, 365 days of blogging to date. Certainly full of ups and downs, and as a result there now is an entire year of my life and/or thoughts falling below this post. Not sure if this is actually worth celebrating or not, but regardless, the project is complete. Life goes on elsewhere. Thanks for reading and keep in touch.

The fabulous Drew Anastasia will be picking up year two of 365 - check out his artful ways and days here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 364: Deep diggin

We're in Culver City, deep in the CLUI archive.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 363: All in a day

from here to there, in a matter of hours

We left Mono Lake yesterday morning and drove through the Owens Valley. Our tiny car sandwiched between the the last slab of the Basin and Range and the Sierra Nevadas to the West and Death Valley to our east. Proceeding south we crossed the Mojave, the San Andreas fault, drove the crest of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains to find ourselves landing in a valley that at first glance fits the epitome of pop-culture- Los Angeles. The whiplash effects are high, but something in the air around here makes everything feel alright and slowed down. Is this why people live here? Somehow the super reality of all that a day can hold seems fitting when landing in this particular place, yet Baudrillard on Death Vallery echoes in my geologically focused mind...

"A fragment of another planet (at least predating any form of human life), where another, deeper temporality reigns, on whose surface you float as you would on salt-laden waters. The senses, the mind, and even your sense of belonging to the human race are all numbed by the fact of having before you the pure, unadulterated, sign of 180 million years, and therefore the implacable enigma of your own existence. It is the only place where it is possible to relive, alongside the physical spectrum of colours, our successive historical forms: the mineral, the organic, salt desert, sand dunes, rock, ore, light, heat, everything on earth has been, all the inhuman forms it has been through, gathered together in a single anthologizing vision."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 362: Tufa

Don't climb on the tufa!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 361: Deep blue

Everything you've ever heard and might have imagined about Lake Tahoe is true. It is extremely deep, blue, alpine, high-altitude, exclusive feeling, crystal clear. It rests right outside the great Sierra Nevadas and receives tons of clear, fresh mountain melt. Yet, the climate is changing due to human induced activity and the local wildlife and lake waters are changing in response. On our way through yesterday we learned that this area truly is a fragile and threatened ecosystem. Its future is extremely precarious.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 360: Beyond the Basin

black rock desert in polaroid, pyramid lake in background, both traces of Lake Lahontan

Today we cross into California. Saying good bye for now to the ancient lakes and playas of the majestic Basin and Range. I am endlessly captivated, and in awe, of this landscape's other-worldliness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 359: BLM

Sand Mountain recreational area (BLM land outside Fallon, NV)

We've heard that 87% of Nevada is BLM land. This means it is essentially public, but noone can live on this land. Land use ranges from military to recreational. On our way back from Shoal (also on BLM land) we came across the Sand Mountain recreational area and stopped to use the bathroom.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 358: Unpredictable everything

sunrise from the 15th floor of the Eldorado and storms clouds this afternoon

We have been experiencing odd weather since we arrived. Temperatures haven't made it past 73 degrees the entire time and storms keep rolling over the horizon. Today the temps dipped down to 50 only to soar to 70 within the same hour. Dramatic weather, light -everything. Summer must be on the horizon soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 357: Golden days

Beautiful days in Reno. Incredible people and amazing times in the Altered Landscape archive.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 356: Faultless

We found the site of Faultless yesterday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 355: Extreme

Great Basin National Park isn't your average family oriented National Park. It's basically designed for backpackers, professional hikers and survivalists. Starting at 6,000 ft and climbing to 12,000 ft (with a glacier to boot) it is basically one long, winding, thin road to the base of Mt. Wheeler. The road stops at 9,000 ft. which is where we stopped too. I don't do well with heights, or altitude, and this was my limit. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see the ancient Bristlecone Pine forest since the trail to the anticipated forest involved a 4 mile hike through snow at over 9,000 ft. Who knew! We did find this lovely young Bristlecone Pine tree in the parking lot of the visitors center (6,200ft), but were told it would only live to around 100-150 years since it isn't in the "stressed" environment that these trees needs to thrive. In such conditions they can live to be over 4,000 years old. We are going to seek out more of these mighty pines in California next week in the White Mountains. Perhaps we will have better luck.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 354: Departing

The military has literally moved in next door. For the next two weeks they will be training at South Base, with live ammunition, right next door to where we are living. It is time to move on. We say goodbye to the mountains, the lake line, and Wendover until next time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 353: Enola

click to enlarge

Yesterday we toured the Enola Gay Hangar.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 352: From the lake bed

view from the Quonset

We're living below the water line of ancient Lake Bonneville. We can see the trace of the lake on the mountains all around Wendover. It is rather magical and humbling.

Thinking of Robert today... we toured the Enola Gay Hangar this afternoon. More to come on that in the coming days.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 351: On the road

We encountered a major dust storm coming off the Great Salt Lake yesterday.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 350: A beginning

We are on our way to Salt Lake City today and the much anticipated journey begins!
We'll be sending signals from our search!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 349: Alive

click to enlarge images

"This is the sort of place where you really do not put a nuclear power plant...there was other action in the neighborhood at the same time- in the Stillwater Range, the Sonoma Range, Pumpernickel Valley. Actually, this is not a particularly spectacular scarp. The lesson is that the whole thing- the whole Basin and Range, or most of it- is alive. The earth is moving. The faults are moving. There are hot springs all over the province. There are young volcanic rocks. Fault scars everywhere. The world is splitting open and coming apart. You see a sudden break in the sage like this and it says to you that a fault is there and fault block is coming up. This is a gorgeous, fresh, young, active fault scarp. It's growing. The range is lifting up. This Nevada topography is what you see during mountain building. There are no foothills. It is all too young. It is live country. This is tectonic, active, spreading, mountain-building world. To a nongeologist, it's just ranges, ranges, ranges."
- Kenneth Deffeyes, in John McPhee's Basin and Range

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 348 : Robert Del Tredici

At Work in the Field of the Bomb,
Robert Del Tredici

"Robert Del Tredici began documenting the nuclear age in 1979. His first book of photographs and interviews, The People of Three Mile Island (Sierra Club Books, 1980), was part sociology and part critique of nuclear power. His second book, At Work in the Fields of the Bomb (Harper & Row, 1987), documented the US nuclear weapons industry and won the 1987 Olive Branch Book Award for its contribution to world peace. In 1987 Robert founded The Atomic Photographers Guild, a collective of 24 photographers who make culturally visible all aspects of the nuclear age. In 1991 he began documenting the nuclear weapons industry in the former Soviet Union." -read more

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 347: Inner Dome

While reading the recent issue of CLUI's Lay of the Land, I came across the article, "Some Faces From The Portrait Gallery Of The Texas Oilscape". In this article (featured on page 25) the caption for the Mont Belvieu Storage Area caught my eye and reinvigorated my interest in geologically formed salt domes, salt beds, and country's interesting usage of them for storing oil, gas, and nuclear waste.

"Mont Belvieu is the largest volatile hydrocarbon storage site in the country. Around 100 excavated cavities have been made inside the large salt dome that underlies the rise in the landscape that gives the town its name. Of these some are over 2,000 feet tall, with more capacity than a supertanker. Several companies operate the storage cavities and the pipelines connected to them, that flow to and from the refineries of the Gulf Coast, and to markets elsewhere in the country. Mont Belieu is one of dozens of salt domes along the Gulf Coast, many of which have been developed as oil drilling sites, and as underground gas and petrochemical storage."
- From Lay of the Land

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 346: Basin. Fault. Range.

one of my many takes on the slab basin and range formation

"Most mountain rangers around the world are a result of compression, of segments of the earth's crust being brought together, bent, mashed, thrust and folded, squeezed up into the sky. The Himalaya, the Appalachians, the Alps, the Urals, the Andes. The ranges of the Basin and Range came up another way. The crust- in this region between the Rockies and the Sierra- is spreading out, being stretched, being thinned, being literally pulled to pieces. The sites of Reno and Salt Lake City, on opposite sides of the province, have moved sixty miles apart. The crust of the Great Basin has broken into blocks. The blocks are not, except for simplicities sake, analogous to dominoes. They are irregular in shape. They more truly suggest stretch marks. Which they are. They trend nearly north south because the direction of the stretching is roughly east-west. The breaks, or faults, between them are not vertical but dive into the earth at angles that average sixty degrees, and this, from the outset, affected the centers of gravity of the blocks in a way that caused them to tilt. Classically, the high edge of one touched the low edge of another and formed a trough, or basin. The high-end sculpted, eroded, serrated by weather- turned into mountains The detritus of the mountains rolled into the basin. The basin filled with water- at first, it was fresh blue water- and accepted layer upon layer of sediment from the mountains, accumulating weight, and thus, unbalancing the block even further. Its tilt become more pronounced. In the manner of the seesaw, the high, mountain side of the block went higher and the low, basin side went lower until the block as a whole reached a state of precarious and temporary truce with God, physics, and mechanical and chemical erosion, not to mention, far below, the agitated mantle, which was running a temperature hotter than normal, as was, almost surely, controlling the action. Basin and Range. Integral fault blocks: low side the basin, high side the range. For 500 miles they nudged one another across the province of the Basin and Range. With extra faulting, and what not, they took care of their own irregularities. Some had their high sides on the west, some on the east. The escarpment of the Wasatch Mountains-easternmost expression of this immense suite of mountains -faced west. The Sierra-the westernmost, the highest, the predominant range, with Donner Pass only halfway up it-presented its escarpment to the east."
- Basin and Range, John McPhee

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 345: Open

Come on over! We're open from 12-6!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 344: Releasing

"She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ’petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory–this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?


And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt LĂ©onie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the interval, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks’ windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the forms of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theatre to attach itself to the little pavilion, opening on to the garden, which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated panel which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I was sent before luncheon, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine...
-From Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Volume I

Join us tomorrow for green tea and yellowcake (madeleine's) from 2-4 p.m. in Studio #37 at 183 Lorraine for our Open Studio weekend and help kick off our upcoming journey in search of geologic time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 343: More Lakes

click to enlarge

In one week we will be setting out to experience the landscapes where many of these Pleistocene lakes one existed. I also recently learned about the Calico Early Man site, which is also now a destination on our itinerary.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 342: Shifting sands

image from color + design

Last night we attended a public lecture on the shifting sands of a local beach, Herring Cove. The presentation invited the audience to consider the changing shape of the Cape over spans of geologic time, not just a human lifetime. In this sense, areas of the local beaches will continue to erode and dramatically change before our eyes, but the sand is only doing what it has done since glacial deposition- move. It is always on the move but does not simply disappear. As certain parts of the beach slim down, others bulk up. Reassuringly, the stance the National Park Service and the Center for Coastal Studies seems to be taking is rooted in letting natural forces rearrange things on its own as much as possible. Mistakes have been made in the past by intervening too much and it is now clear that even small simple structures and roadways result in dramatic alteration of the surrounding coastline. It was encouraging to hear a "beach" defined as actually a dynamic force that starts at sea and leads up to the land and then over the shore into barrier dunes and salt marshes, in addition to being an incredible place of recreation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 341: Santa Ana

image credit

Thinking westward today.

“ Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”
—Joan Didion, "Los Angeles Notebook

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 340: Someday

view over the harbor on Sunday night

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 339: Form as motion

"From where I am standing the landscape presents a peculiar unity. My gaze takes in dunes and ocean, miles of water and sand lapping in either direction. They look like images of one another, though the dunes lie still and the waves keep churning towards the shore. This is an illusion, of course; in fact it is the dunes which are moving, some fifteen feet a year, walking south toward the highway, headed for town. The water's not going anywhere; a pulse moves through it, lifts, and let's go. In a time-lapse photo, over a season, or a year perhaps, the impression would be reversed: the waves must freeze to an average stillness, a little blurred at the edges, and the slow-moving dunes would be seen to crawl forward, cresting and tumbling over themselves, grain by wind borne grain. Quietly, in smallest increments over millennia, the waves turn to stone, and the dune dances..." -Cynthia Huntington, The Salt House

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 338: Wings and fins

click to enlarge

I am up at 5:17 this morning. The sun rose five minutes before. Instead of seeing the Atlantic spread before me, just out the window, or having a glint of sun greet me at the horizon I wake to the darkness of four enclosed walls. The sound of the thunder couples with the fog horn and the buzz of the refrigerator. We are back and on this new day I am quite aware of the change of exposure, light and air.

We opened up the season in Thalassa this past week. There are no words to express what this experience was or will continue to release. It was a week of shifting energies as we resided (literally) on moving ground. It started out in a fog bank, buzzing, unsettled and frenzied. It took until last Wednesday to finally "arrive" and sense the stored tensions dissipating. The buzz of bees trickled away and the winds moved in taking much with it out, away, across the landscape.

Smooth fields of azure, golden, seamless beige, powder blue, silver green, all dance and illuminate my memory. Emblazoned with cape light, kerosene light, star light, flashlight, ocean light.

We read to each other, we tapped a vein in the earth and water miraculously rose day after day. We tasted, drank, sat, stared at land, sky, and sea. We walked down, up and over- and back. Wings and fins. We filled the shack with incense, reflections, and projections forward.

During the course of the week we lived. Beach roses bloomed. Whales spouted. The outside world moved forward too, doing just fine without us.

The light and temperature were ever shifting. Ours was a private changeable world full of passing into recognition and intentionality. Life around us slipped into the next. We moved with it all.

Yesterday the truck moved like a snail through the dunes taking us further from our nest. We had dwelled there as all those who have come before us have- and all those that will come after will too.

On route 6 we were quickly passed by cars just in from Boston, here to unwind for the long weekend. We have unwound at a different speed, at a pace out-of-sync with this one. In the process of this past week we entered an altered state. Our return has been populated, full of chatter, slick machines, cool, hard surfaces, and clean, bright interiors.

As two years ago, drops of hot water and sensations of clean clothes are filled with gratitude and mystery. It is bittersweet, as with these gifts comes distance from the simplification and clarity of what being so alive affords.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 337

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 336

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 335

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 334

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 333

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 332

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 331

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 330: Without words

For the next seven days I'll be posting a photo a from our previous experiences in the dunes. Enjoy and see you next week!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 329: Friends of the Pleistocene

I have discovered a new organization that I hope to become a member of in the next couple of weeks, Friends of the Pleistocene! I hope to join the Northeastern Cell. Who knew such an organization exists. I'm in love with their woolly mammoth graphics, amazing field trips, and their shared obsession with ancient lakes!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 328: More broken arrows

Aboard U.S.S. Petrel off the coast of Spain, 1966; after successful recovery of the H-Bomb

Back on Day 168 I posted about the Broken Arrow (when a nuclear bomb accidentally falls out of plane). This week in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists I read about the Palomares accident of 1966, which then lead to the re-discovery of the 1968 Thule accident.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 327: Towards the LAND

We're wrapping up semesters, projects, packs, and lists today and turning toward summer's arrival - in just a matter of short hours. We're also thrilled that the official guide to New Mexico's LAND/ART event was released yesterday. We're proud to be featured on the cover as the event's blog. Download the guide and make plans to attend! The collaboration includes six months of incredible art, experience and conversation!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 326: Generative Exhibition

The results of our major spring project have gone public! Check it out on the EMS site.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 325: Alteration

Jim Sanborn, Topographic Projection, Shiprock, New Mexico, 1995, dye transfer print, 31" x 37"

We'll be visiting the Altered Landscape archive at the Nevada Museum of Art in just a couple of weeks.

"The Altered Landscape is the NMA's largest and newest focus collection and features nearly 600 pieces of contemporary landscape photographs. The collection traces the 1970s New Topographics tradition through its derivations over the past four decades. Much of The Altered Landscape imagery focuses on topography of the new West, including nuclear and military landscapes, mining sites, housing developments, dams, and desert trails. Over 50 artists are represented in the collection including large bodies of work by Robert Adams, Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Frank Gohlke, Peter Goin, Richard Misrach, Patrick Nagatani, Terry Evans, Sharon Stewart, Wanda Hammerbeck, and Robert Dawson." -visit the site

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 324: Set-up

Our open studio party (see Day 305) is three weeks from today. We're setting up in advance, here's a sneak peek!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 323: Thalassa

our home in one week, image: mark sellers

We'll be arriving at Thalassa one week from today, the dune shack pictured above. "In Greek mythology, Thalassa was a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. With Pontus, she was the mother of the nine Telchines and Halia. Sometimes, she was thought of as the mother of Aphrodite with Uranus. She was the personification of the Mediterranean Sea." More dune shack photos s and a visitor's story here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 322: Gearing up

our new TomTom GPS hanging out with our Solio solar charger.
We're ready for anything!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 321: Void and Mass

Micheal Heizer's City, photo: Simon Norfolk/NB Pictures

Some humans hollow mountains to store nuclear waste, some hollow volanoes to channel celestial light, some build works that will "represent all the civilization to this point.” I've discovered a blog that attempts to draw connections between Micheal Heizer's City and the failed Yucca Mountain project. I'm not sure Heizer's work is as aligned (especially in intention) as the writer implies, but the topic of massive land use and land alteration in projects such as these is endlessly fascinating.