Does the act of design relegate itself to the design of a building or static artifacts? Or can it defy it's commercial pedigree and instead begin to design a process, a sequence of non tangible events which foster a particular outcome. This was the area of interest in this investigation, not the signifier of a prescribed outcome. In other words, my concern and intent were not to describe a building that would perform in a certain way during a tornado, although that was part of it, but to begin to unfold a sequence of designed events. This includes understanding history of site as a process itself, rather than a stylistic reference, which includes not just physical attributes but legal, ethical,and the more intangible controversial aspects of Monsanto. And by viewing this history, one can map not just a formal response for the company’s goals but evolve, out of the preexisting systems,an ethical and legal strategy which, cloaked under the guise of disaster, reveals a far more sinister intent of the genetic empire.

As the business of GMO food expands, Monsanto’s interest of gene flow (the movement of genetic information into various populations) becomes its primary strategy. They've also successfully utilized patent infringement law to seize farms that have inadvertently bred their GMO plants—even corn crops, which are wind pollinated. The most significant factor of gene flow is mobility and as wind pollination is limited to short distances, new strategies must be sought. Their new research centers, built in strategic locations throughout "Tornado Alley" house their most durable seeds and pollen ever designed. Standing over 10 stories high in farm country, these shallow built towers are actually designed to disintegrate in the occurence of a tornado dispersing its contents across the landscape, private properties, and genetic fiefdoms, effectively cross pollinating their genes into the evolutionary landscape.

Model used as process exploring dispersal and and the act of trespassing. Line represents 60 years average tornado direction/duration measurements, citing physical history in the design of this phenomenon. The pollen, at the floor beneath the model, was tracked on peoples shoes and dispersed within the gallery space. This opened a new angle of strategy that could involve dispersal vectors, such as the design of bee features which carry pollen. Or barbless pollen that monsanto could "litter" throughout the landscape, breeding out the success that evolution has spent ages developing, in exchange for their genetic empire.

The model above is nothing more than a virtual context—no installation. Part of the interest was that the construction be born out of the site experience itself—rather than constructed in isolation/desktop and then imposed on the site.

Considering an installation for a public space, and in addition to the whole notion of de-separating art from the everyday experience, I was intrigued with these ideas:

A piece that cannot be experienced virtually or in a gallery.

Designing for a moment in space. Part of the demands are that you sit in traffic during rush hour at a particular point when the sun backlights an installation.

An Inversion of the subject matter, in which the (anti) form designed simply frames the context of the everyday experience.

A huge anti-spectacle. One that edges on even being detected—even requires a bit of discovery, investment, and participation from a patron. The intent is not towards a prescribed interaction or read of the piece. This leaves that necessary space. The experience is not spoon fed—curated by a third party. I'm interested in rich moments discovered in everyday existence; in momentary, synchronous events.

* There are no plans to move forward with this exploration.

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As an exercise we were asked to write a bibliography, citing our references in a "user's manual" for how people should understand our project. It forced me to organize and take account of my otherwise discrete influences. This writng exercise began to collage those, into a composition, which becomes more of a way for myself and others to enter and engage the work. It was actually a highly generative method; using the raw material of their work to begin to author a work of my own. Using the armature of a user’s manual allowed me to synthesize their influence and make connections to each other, and ultimately to my own work which begins to take a shape all its own. Not just specific works, but other aspects as well—such as their attitudes to norms and allegiance to their investigations which were often times courageous, counterintuitive, and ultimately groundbreaking. In terms of a project, it also prompts me to ask myself the question, “what am i contributing”—as there is a great gulf between producing work and simply re-producing work.


From rush hour traffic Take the Getty Center Drive exit from the 405 and follow the signs to the main gate on Sepulveda Boulevard. *Please note that some GPS directions to the Getty Center are incorrect.

Take the tram upward and watch the immediate stream of existence you inhabited just moments ago, transform into a steady stream of multicolored ants. The thought of that being you, also recedes. That the long stretch of stitched together asphalt becomes not a stream of unconsciousness but railroad tracks from which you just hopped a train with an old friend, Jack Kerouac. And boarding this ride you leave behind all predestination and willingness to know, in an effort to escape the bondage of routine.

The mental noise of traffic, is loud—capable of surviving long after the freeway exit. But constant noise, takes on a different context when pitted against the absence of deliberate sound, as so in John Cage’s 4’33”. Just as Cage represented through his works space and emptiness, use this openness not to fill with the intellect, but rather stand in defiance to every known thing. Like Cage, try to adapt what Shunryu Suzuki termed a “Beginner’s Mind”— a mind open to possibilities rather than tethered to the specialties of an expert’s mind, or of a scientific ideology.

Next, remove panopticonoculars from the field kit. Focus on the security camera in the Northwest corner of the Eli Broad Gallery. Depress the INVERT button. Scroll through the grid of security footage linked to that network, until you find yourself being surveilled. Notice yourself, outside of yourself. See yourself in this institution viewing something we call Art. But avoid all attempts to criticize the art or even the activity—to do so would, as Dave Hickey put, be playing an air guitar, “flurries of silent, sympathetic gestures with nothing at their heart except the memory of the music.”

Once spatial context is noted, depress the HISTORY button. Speed scroll through history and notice any patterns. While the patrons may seem similar—the works of art that are shown are the one’s that changed the paradigm. Picasso, Rauschenburg, Warhol, Ai Wei Wei, all broke from the existing trajectories—demonstrating the necessity of art to continually un-define itself in order for it to remain relevant in time. Precendents, preconceived notions of right and wrong, what is art, what is design—while good to know, tend to obsess us on the formulas of other people’s work, in other times. Instead sit with this existence right here, right now.

In this field guide we are to assume that any structure imposed on art and design, including the privatization of it, are anti-thetical to that emptiness that art has the proclivity to engage—that’s what makes it alive. Lucy Lippard once said, science tends to move in on, to corner something, to reduce—whereas art tends to move in the opposite direction, it moves away from it. Engage the rest of the day not with new eyes, but with a new soul. Forget stacking cleverness. Forget the esoteric. The quotidian life need not be routine, nor banal—the question is whether it can be activated through rebellious act or artistic intervention.
The greats knew it.

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Ghost of a River

Project looking at the former LA River locations and proposing installations at various points in abandoned land.

Site is Everything
Although it appears as not a contingous installation, the urban (non)form is a key participant in the subject, rather than an obstacle to the installation. you can follow along paths whose direction/destination was delineated with the previous site’s line(s). Experiment in working with large scale and with a medium that can perform at those different scales. However, this ended up in a direction that did not interest me.
This project involved the creative processes of design, nature, and science. The initial area of interest was climate change, beginning from the traditional view of stopping our human contribution to it. But in the dawn of overpopulation, expended terrestrial resources, and capitalism, this project moves beyond a defensive position toward a conversation about unprecedented opportunity. Through design research and a workshop, 2 proposals have arisen.

Nomadic Islands

Design proposal of a new type of a floating city. Formally based on open-pit mining, they essentially mine the ocean for habitable space. On the of size scale of a small island such as Catalina, these are not fixed islands but enormous, buoyant watercraft. The expandable design is modeled to accommodate change through time. Area wise, growth mimics population boom and lifespan with new levels of development that can be built atop the old, increasing the depth height, the surface ring's area, and spatial volume. While the total land area will accumulate, bottom layers can be 'shed', ensuring a perpetually contemporary top layer, always built through the lens of new technologies and adaptations of the time.

Submerged shot of a habitat from ocean depths looking upward. PH neutral concrete coralizes and serves as wildlife habitat.


Synthetic Geologies

Fashionable life vests and respiratory masks mark the new wardrobe. Atmospheric chiaroscuro created by dense, choking clouds of airborne, light-absorbing ash.

Land development now consists of tapping throats of volcanic magma in order to create streams of lava flow—streams of land creation. Acupunture-like piercings scatter across the landscape as both man made forms and these generated streams of molten rock weave together to form a new hybrid, synthetic geology. Potential sites of land creation are located primarily on ocean faults. These sites of volcanic activity are cordoned off with circular dams, which simultaneously act to keep ocean water out as magma is produced, yet designed to destruct should the explosive operation become too erratic.

This project investigates the ubiquity of sensors and how they can be commonly used for radical reclamation efforts in devastated environments. The case study uses the Fukushima nuclear disaster to tell that story, but the usage is not exclusive to it, as this is inexpensive technology with universal application.

Fukushima residents have become frustrated with the government cleanup efforts which include many obstacles in the form of ineptitude, politically tied contracts, and general lag. This alternative to industrial cleanup efforts can be implemented by anyone and allows community builders to collaborate with nature, independent of site politics. People are not just products of their environment, but producers of it as well.

This strategy proposes the design of UAV ballons filled with seeds or spores of remediating plants/fungi/microbes/pollen. For sensing and distributing seed, it uses the same geographic pattern of dispersal (via wind) that also distributes radioactive dust from a nuclear fallout.

As these unmanned aerial vehicles float, suspended on wind currents, they transmit dynamic environmental measurements to map devastated zones. When the balloon reaches an area with a high reading of the specified pollutant, it then explodes, dispersing it’s contents in the landscape. This dispersal may consist of specific seeds, pollen, spores and/or nanoscale sensors. This method of phytoremediation is low cost, readily available, and will initiate a generative cycle of succession, the first step to land reclamation.

Sites where topsoil has been removed and treated for contamination need to build biomass. Pioneer species are the hardiest of plants, requiring minimal care to begin the cycle of succession in building soil.

Industrial hemp is being used to decontaminate soil around Chernobyl, where a nuclear reaction explosion occurred in 1986. At a nearby pond, sunflowers removed 95% of the pond’s radioactive cesium and strontium within 10 days.

When these aerial mycelial mats land, they will provide the necessary shade, humidity, and medium for mycelial inoculation. These hyperaccumulators will uptake radioactive waste in addition to other heavy metals, and petroleum products.

Unexploded seedbombs scattered across the American landscape have turned up many units outfitted to disperse pollen. Several units were discovered in Monsanto fields, carrying native (non GMO} pollen intended to cross breed-in susceptibility traits with the GMO crops. Such acts of tactical agriculture are beginning to question the idea of genetic ownership.

The other important aspect of the use of sensors is that they do not simply register local environmental data, but attempt to map the ecology of pollution, which includes interspecie and intercontinental travel. Along with seed dispersal, are sensors that are intended to be consumed by local fish, bird, and other long travel species. The intent is to map the entire travel of radioactive material through its entire life cycle. As a scenario, one could imagine seeing traces of nuclear isotopes on their next meal of seafood and it is with this immediate relation to danger that may result in a revelation of common awareness as to the implications of nuclear power.

Photo credit: Ian Besler

This image is from the demo which consisted of detonating a seed bomb by exposing it to uranium.

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This movie was the final production for a studio titled, Metropolis of Me. We were prompted to investigate themes of quests as it relates to the acquisition of something. In response to the theme of ‘quests’, research had led me to Joseph Campbell’s book, Power of Myth. In this book Campbell outlined a common thread that ties together many of the worlds myths, religions, and fables. That thread was described as a sequence of actions which are: departure, fulfillment, and return.

As a commercially sponsored project, this montage was inspired by the early exploration of creating an experience that transcends the product, embodied by the idea of an underwater Apple store. However, the specific focus of the montage was about universality of myth and the ultimate breakdown of the stagecraft of surrogate achievements.


The above images map a ride to and through a Griffith Park fire road.

This scalable study sketch explores the relationship between space, time, and moments of wandering mind. Single pedestrians are tracked as they walk down the sidewalk. This pairs walking speed against physical signs of distraction. On the video, whenever a pedestrian’s attention turns to the right, the marker blinks. Studies have shown correlations of walking speed to many factors of urban life such as population density and even suggestions of creative potential.

These were explorations driven by collage and mapping early in the process. Collages reached for the unexpected, while mapping subjective spatial experiences dealt with cultural geographies.

Collaborative research with Walt Chiu

These are all shots not taken by us, but from public posts to instagram, facebook, and flickr. These are souvenirs of physical place made complete with the re-enactment of iconic scenes. It’s a meeting point of place, cinema, myth, catharsis, and kinship.
This was a project exploration put forth by theorist Benjamin Bratton as part of Critical Frameworks. This was a collaboration with fellow media designers Ian Besler and Sangwoo Han. The prompt was to consider the implications of a cloud based society. I explored the infrastructure of such a network and what strategies could play out in the contentious relationship between state and the statelessness of the cloud.

The movement of military information to a decentralized network by DARPA, not only produced the internet, but proved a good model strategically. That trajectory would further play out in the cloud. Citizens, if not practiced to some degree already, would provide some partition of their device to serve the cloud. Much like the peer-to-peer service, devices would become partial servers of the cloud, housing cryptic units of partial information. This would directly place the physical territory of the cloud as a ubiquitous entity embedded within a state, safeguarded by it's citizens. The cloud doesn’t resemble contiguous form so much as a thin veneer on physical space which forcefully coexists with state.

Virtual generation of encryption implies a math that can be reverse engineered. Instead, algorithms based on natural occurrences leverage the geographic ubiquity of the physical cloud infrastructure. This would ensure cryptographic generation that will never repeat and will be amorphous, perpetually changing—encryption directly tied to a particular mathematical moment. In essence, unlike the physical design of fortress structure, the new means of mathematic fortification is forever in constant shifting form, thwarting algorithmic attack and impervious to time cloak infiltration. To crack the encryption, is to solve an encryption that is already obsolete, as the rate of change is within the time scale of microseconds. The physical model of this is captured in the space of the Windtunnel. However, analogous to the cloud infrastructure, its presence is not transmittable virtually over the internet.

The decentralization of cloud infrastructure dramatically speeds rates of information transmission, as travel distance is drastically minimized and dispersed among simultaneous feeds. Rate of information transcends our current speeds exponentially. In the present world of Wall Street trades run by algorithms, new metrics of position and advantage are no longer dependent on geography but subject to efficiencies and de-efficiencies of transmission—curated by the cloud. The Windtunnel installation models this time scale by slowing it down to nonillionths of a second, in which light pulses and movement along paths take place over months. During which, passing of the seasons mark various points of light travel along its form.

The All Seeing Eye
Tactical control of the hearts and minds of cloud/state citizens bring about new implications for media design. As virtuality and algorithms of order define a world that is increasingly rigid—in a sense reductive, the movement towards a static and controlled state must be counterbalanced with disruptive acts. While not necessarily teleologic acts, the succession and development of the cloud must codevelop with such agents of change. The reductive practices that technology can strive for serves well towards achieving stability (stasis), but renders the system less able to cope with change—less able to cope with the future.
video credit: jeremy eichenbaum

Works tagged 'transient ecologies' refer to a group of projects and ideas that reference the qualities of an ecology. These projects look to ecological ideas of emergence, resilience, biodiversity, reclamation, and evolution in explorations that attempt to renegotiate our relationship with the urban landscape.

This is a project investigating space and form as a method of urban design. It involved working from computer code, narratives, models, and diagrams as a process to extract possible formal strategies of a new urbanism.

The initial mode of research employed models, specifically, I was interested in mycelial structure. Above models depict static snapshots, not of form so much as snapshots of dynamic process. An antiform, which can accommodate change—uncontained and ready to take form.

The romantic idea that nature exists pristine, independent of man is obsolete. the 21st century proved anything but nature's pristine independence; we are nature. The earlier XML exercises dealt with classification and differentiation,which fosters a fixation on objects or categories–the tangible and the understood, rather than the elusive relationships between. This begins to challenge the barrier of an either/or approach in favor of creative synthesis manifesting across time. The result is a synthetic ecosystem which introduces itself to and employs an existing ecology's ability to accommodate and react to change.

The above time sequence shows the consumption of present urban form into an aerial structure. Just as this project references the formal strategies of mycelium, it also strives to reference mycelium's role in ecology, mitigating the introduction between foreign elements and existing ecologies.

Overpopulation and global warming long evolved-out the need for natural elements (i.e. sun, space,) in favor of controlled, secure, and predictable environments. This design will allow the use of gravity to move flows of water, flora, and fauna on the topside of the structure as human habitat is suspended on the underside. This exposes forest/agricultural areas to direct sun, maximizing food, oxygen, and natural insulation. The suspended infrastructure allows development over oceans—which becomes less an act of land reclamation (i.e. levees and coastal extensions) to one of land formation.

Limiting factors of fresh water or food require either space or energy intensive processes. Moving away from simply throwing energy at a problem, this proposes utilizing membrane technology to desalinate ocean water through evapotranspiration from the ocean surface as well as stormwater harvesting across vast stretches of 'unoccupied' ocean. Older technologies such as HAARP engineered water cycles are aided with microbe dispersal, which not only hastens storm release, but because of their ability to travel long distances suspended in cloud systems, extends interspecie diversification beyond immediate localities. Waste submerged in ocean serve as important grounds of microbial mutation and production, the first step in disrupting ocean ecology to accommodate human presence. Landscapes are no longer polluted but rather, inoculated.
Personal study on reuse of materials in landscape architecture. Broken slabs of concrete increasing percolation, fostering of public art, layered park space all contribute to a richer language of landscape and its ecological and social functions.

Following lead from creative industries such as film and gaming, these were created utilizing a Wacom tablet in Photoshop. This 2D method offers the fluidity of imagination while pursuing more elusive qualities of space, such as lighting, mood, phenomenon, and atmosphere.
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