Nicole Antebi
Uisce Beatha, A Mulholland Bestiary (2009-2014)
Nicole Antebi
Video animation DVD with various objects

Uisce Beatha, A Mulholland Bestiary, is an extended version of Uisce Beatha, Antebi’s non-fiction animation produced in 2009 as part of the “Water, CA” an experimental media anthology: waterca.net. Uisce Beatha, which translates from Gaelic to “water of life,” is a short animated film about William Mulholland, chief engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 1878-1929. Mulholland’s story has largely been overshadowed by the 1974 film Chinatown, based on Robert Towne’s screenplay directed by Roman Polanski. The narrative of the film suggests that Mulholland may in fact be, Uisce, the man, horse, bird, trickster of Irish Mythology. Spelled U-I-S-C-E. Uisce sometimes appears as a handsome Highland water-horse, perpetual searching for inland bodies of still water and attracting unsuspecting riders. When Uisce finally does find a rider, they will find themselves affixed to Uisce’s adhesive skin as he runs headlong into the nearest body of water until Uisce completely submerges the rider, leaving only a liver to wash up on the shore. The story of Mulholland is framed by the larger history of whiskey and the role it played in settling (or colonizing) the West.

 

­

Metabolic Studio
Liminal Photos: 100 Mules walking the LA Aqueduct (2012-13)
Lauren Bon and The Optics Division of The Metabolic Studio
Liminal photographic print

Lauren Bon’s AgH20 depicts and interprets the relationship between Los Angeles and the source of our water in the Eastern Sierra. Bon and the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio team have designed and realized what they have named the Liminal Camera, an adaptation of early photographic technology to specific artistic ends. Like the Pictorialists more than 100 years ago, these photographs assert a way of making that stands apart from common practice. The Optics Division returns photography to its simplest technology and the photograph to its first form of paper bathed in watery chemical solutions. The prints in this series exist simultaneously as object, image, and metaphor about the transmutation of landscape into photographic likeness. The decision to employ early technique grants the images in this series a spectral, ambiguous visual quality that is exactly suited to her story of water, silver, Westward Expansion, industrialization, and decay.

The mountains that form the Owens Valley in California were discovered to be rich with silver, which was moved across the continent to facilitate some of the most ambitious ventures of the time. The snow pack from the Sierra was moved southwest by aqueduct where it made the Los Angeles of today possible. The silver that was transported east, where the Eastman Kodak Company was second only to the U.S. Treasury in its consumption. The Liminal Camera that makes, processes, houses, and transports these photographs and the camera’s operators is a camera obscura, one of the earliest optical devices known to humankind, but it is housed in an iconic marker of our times, a shipping container: common, anonymous, invisible, interchangeable, and in constant movement from place to place. A container with a lens, it is both a camera and a room. It holds its own processing and storage facilities within its walls, as well as the operators from Bon’s Metabolic Studio Optics Division: Tristan Duke and Rich Nielsen.

 

Metabolic Studio
One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct (2013-2015)
Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio
Mix-media

Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio performed One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a commemorative action that drew the line between Los Angeles and the source of its water. One hundred mules traced the 240 miles of pipelines, canals, and ditches that bring water from the Eastern Sierra through a gravity-fed system to Los Angeles. Mule labor was essential to the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The mules passed through three counties and nearly fifty communities along the way. The journey began on October 18, 2013 at the Intake just north of Independence and concluded on the banks of the L.A. River at the L.A. Equestrian Center on November 11, 2013. The mules arrived at the Cascades for the actual centenary of the opening of the L.A. Aqueduct on November 5, 2013.

 

Aqueduct Futures
Aqueduct Futures (2013 & 2015)
Barry Lehrman with Jonathan Linkus and students from Cal Poly Pomona’s Aqueduct Futures program
Series of printed panels, website

The Aqueduct Futures Project is mapping the nexus of water, energy, landscape, and culture along the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Serving as a catalyst in the ongoing public discourse about exploitation of water resources, the project’s mission is creating a roadmap toward environmental justice and greater resilience. Casting a fresh look on the emergence of urban Los Angeles catalyzed by the massive transfusion of water via the aqueduct, the exhibit provides a nuanced view into the interconnections between water, energy, ecology, economics, and culture in California.

Launched to commemorate the 2013 centennial of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the project enabled one hundred and thirty five Cal Poly students to assist creating the November 2013 Aqueduct Futures Exhibition for Los Angeles City Hall. That exhibit has been revised and expanded for After the Aqueduct. In the year leading up to the Aqueduct’s Centennial (November 5th, 2013), students led community workshops in Bishop, Lone Pine, and June Lake that explored land-use issues and opportunities in the aqueduct’s watershed, then designed interpretive landscapes or multifunctional landscapes along the Aqueduct. Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students developed a sophisticated land-use planning tool for Inyo and Mono Counties as their 606 Capstone Studio Project. A second group of MLA students created a vision plan for the aqueduct’s right-of-way south in the Antelope and Freemont Valleys that expanded into a larger review of the solar power and wind power land rush. Graphic arts and computer science students helped shape the exhibit and project’s website in collaboration with landscape students. Support for the Aqueduct Futures Project provided by Metabolic Studio, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and Los Angeles Council District 4.

 

Peter Bo Rappmund
Psychohydrography (2010)
Peter Bo Rappmund
Single channel color HD video, 63 minutes

An analysis of the flow of water from mountain to aqueduct, city to sea. Shot at and around the Eastern Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, Los Angeles Aqueduct, Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean. View trailer of Psychohydrography at peterborappmund.name.

“That’s psychohydrography as in psychogeography. Peter Bo Rappmund’s HD epic is a wordless Situationist essay about water, with images as rigorous as they are beautiful, a long dérive, beginning with snow melting in the Sierras, passing along the Los Angeles Aqueduct to its terminus in the San Fernando Valley, and then along the Los Angeles River from its source to its mouth in Long Beach. Our river may be the world’s least picturesque urban stream, but there is something sublime about it. That’s why Hollywood directors love it, but nobody before Rappmund has captured its peculiar sublimity so precisely. The epilogue of sky, surf, and beach in constantly shifting colors is electronic Rothko.” —Thom Andersen

 

Chad Ress
All Along the Aqueduct (2013-2014)
Chad Ress
Archival inkjet print series

Originating in the snowpack of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, over 200 miles from Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Aqueduct is a vital yet often unseen part of Angelenos’ daily lives. In an attempt to connect the mostly hidden waterway from the people it serves, the first and last images concentrate on Californians’ interaction with water at both ends of the Aqueduct. The images in between show the Aqueduct at various stages of its route, as it meanders through intakes, concrete channels, and ultimately—233 miles outside the Los Angeles city limits—disappears into piped infrastructure, emerging and reconnecting with the community in such forms as swimming pools, fountains, garden hoses, and faucets. Jon Christenson for Boom: A Journal of Southern California originally commissioned this series of images in 2013. View more of Chad’s work at: www.chadress.com.

 

Alexander Robinson
Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine for the Owens Lake Dust Control Project (2015)
Alexander Robinson/Landscape Morphologies Lab

Aluminum, plywood, styrene, various hardware & computer equipment

This project undertakes designing, building, and deploying a custom rapid landscape prototyping machine to improve the design of dust mitigation landscapes at the Owens Lake near Lone Pine, California.

Gradually desiccated by the diversion of water into 1914 Los Angeles Aqueduct the ~108 sq. mile Owens Lake became the single greatest source of deleterious PM10 air particulate pollution.  After years of litigation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) was mandated to manage this hazard and has built dust control landscapes costing over 1 billion dollars with annual potable water expenditures equal to the needs of the city of San Francisco. Because the project must abide by the State’s Public Trust Doctrine the utility has found it difficult to find water efficient ways to control dust, while still providing public values.

The rapid landscape prototyping machine addresses this complex and timely design challenge. Hybridizing engineering physical modeling techniques, robotic technology, digital projection, and 3D scanning the machine creates a new multi-sensory design platform to rigorously address the design issues present on the alkali lake. The machine creates a common ground where designers, engineers, and the public can fluidly engage in the multiple concerns inherent to the infrastructure. The designs developed with this machine are presented within an interactive multimedia landscape “player” that employs 21st century interactive pictorial representations to immerse users in the on-going search for resource efficient public values for the lake.  Tumblr feed of Citizen generated Postcards from the Landscape Morphologies Lab’s (LML–LMLab.org) Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine (RLPM): http://owenslakefutures.tumblr.com.

 

Kim Stringfellow
There It Is—Take It! (2013)
Kim Stringfellow
Audio tour program, photographs, copy of the 1991 Inyo/LA Long Term Water Agreement, donation box

There It Is—Take It! is a self-guided car audio tour through Owens Valley, California along U.S. Route 395 examining the controversial social, political, and environmental history of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The tour illuminates various impacts this divisive water conveyance infrastructure has created within the Owens Valley over the last one hundred years of the aqueduct’s existence. Stories of the aqueduct are told from multiple perspectives and viewpoints through the voices of historians, biologists, activists, native speakers, environmentalists, litigators, LADWP employees, and residents from both Los Angeles and the Owens Valley.

Designed as a free, 90-minute audio program, There It Is—Take It! seeks to shed light on the mutual past, present, and possible future of Los Angeles and Owens Valley—centered around its complicated and intertwined water history. The project illuminates the historic physical source of drinking water for the Los Angeles municipality while simultaneously revealing the complex relationship these two seemingly polar regions of California share through an innovative aural program incorporating interviews, field recordings, music, and archival audio that educates the listener while experiencing scenic Owens Valley landscape firsthand along U.S. Route 395. Listen to audio tour online at: thereitistakeit.org.