Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France, 19 Sep 2007 - 6 Jan 2008
Union Pacific/Scholle Vaterland (1998-1999)
Speculative proposal for a Berlin-themed urban redevelopment plan, sited upon the border region between the cities of Las Vegas, the well-known magnet for tourism and hedonistic leisure, and North Las Vegas, a working class town initially built up around the military bases to the north. Throughout the WWII and Cold War-eras, the zone between them functioned as a spatial, cultural and economic buffer between the populations of tourists and locals, many of whom were employed in lower-end jobs within the hospitality industry. An adjoining border – that of racial segregation – contributed to the political differences between the two cities. As the fastest-growing metropolis in the US since the 1990s, Las Vegas has actively tried to reshape its image from that of a lonely outpost of consumption, to that of a legitimate and multicultural global metropolis. At the same time, there has been growing pressure to develop the various spatial voids and zones of dereliction that separate them.
Schindler Shelter (1997-2003)
A proposal for retrofitting a small compound for experimental living (designed and built by Viennese émigré architect R. M. Schindler in Los Angeles in 1921) for use as an emergency response centre and neighbourhood shelter. The proposal reflects on the living situation in Los Angeles in recent years, and on the question: how is it that natural catastrophes produce, if only fleetingly, what even the most progressive, democratic institutions seem unable to deliver: points of connection and cooperation between persons normally separated by ethnic, religious, socio-economic or other demographic
Barriers? Using an analogous logical space – seeking/forcing tenuous connections between kinds of information generally kept apart – the project reconsiders Schinder’s basic premise: a social contract modelled upon those patterns and characteristics of the natural world that have been uniquely attributed to southern California.
Experimental investigation of grain and grain dust as a material determinant of, and metaphorical model for, social relations. A waste product of the mechanical handling of grain in vast elevators, grain dust is produced through the material intersection of the agrarian and industrial worlds. At the macroscopic level it exhibits properties of both solids and gases; individual particles can form unusual, often unstable connections. Combined with other waste products of grain handling – heat and sparks produced through friction – grain dust may produce explosions capable of destroying an elevator in a series of chain reactions from within. The first formal sociological study of disasters in the modern age, Samuel Prince’s Catastrophe and Social Change, considered another side effect of the movement of grain: the Halifax explosion of 1917, caused by the collision of the Mont Blanc, laden with munitions en route to France, and the Imo, a ship commissioned to bring grain from Canadian elevators to Belgium during WWI.
What’s Left to its own Devices (2007, ongoing)
Heuristic investigation of “Do-It-Yourself” interventions in public spaces – the physical space of the city/countryside and the public space of information. Primary sites of research and activity include, 1) the system of canals, dikes, and locks that control the public water supply in Utrecht, The Netherlands, a system heralded as one of the first forms of democratic organization in Europe; and 2) the self-organized library built along the dike of the all-American Canal at “Slab City”, California (an anarchic settlement and de facto autonomous zone built on lands abandoned by the US Army after WWII, near the Salton Sea in the Mojave desert).
CityCat Project (2006, ongoing)
A frame for the intersection and/or elision of 3 independent cartographies of the Brisbane River: an idiosyncratic, discursive network (built through logical games involving language, hydro geological information and local history); indigenous histories of place, and official attempts to develop the waterfront as a tourist amenity. Indigenous peoples living near the Brisbane River were invited to propose an alternate route for the CityCat, a popular water taxi used by students, commuters and tourists. Elder Sam Watson Sr., along with other local Aboriginal people, selected a site on the river’s bank. This place is the location of the Kurilpa (water rat) dreaming story, and lies upon the historic boundary that excluded Aboriginals from the city after dark. Here they determined that 3-4 Aboriginal people would gather while 2 others would board the CityCat. As the ferry neared the site it diverged from its usual course, brought its bows to face the bank, and slowed to a stop near shore. While the CityCat drifted in the current, the Aboriginals aboard the boat and upon shore stood and silently acknowledged each other. After several seconds the CityCat reversed engines and abruptly returned to its usual course. The deflection was unannounced; the Aboriginal people onboard were the only source of information available to other passengers.