For my upcoming 4th year BSLA studio at Cal Poly Pomona, Sublime Infrastructures: Sylmar, I’m seeking Los Angeles based documentary filmmakers (directors, editors, sound folks, cinematographers) and landscape architects with an interest in the city, infrastructure, sustainability, tactical urbanism, and the sublime to be class guests. Guests will either serve as jurors or assist the students in producing videos that integrate their designs and analysis drawings with footage of the city.
At the northern end of the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Aqueduct tumbles down a hillside to quench the thirst of the sprawling metropolis. Nearby, high-tension lines imports electricity from the Pacific Northwest, freeways traffic roars down freeways across overpasses that collapsed in the Northridge quake, trains rumble through tunnels connecting to points north, giant warehouse sit anonymously, garbage molders under the sun, and the city meets the wilderness.
The sublime is a visceral response to overwhelming beauty or power of both natural and constructed places. Infrastructure, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, is celebrated for their aesthetic ability to evoke the sublime as for their technological function. Creating the sublime is a landscape architecture design tool that can be used to generate public support for a project. There is a fine line between the sublime, kitsch, and overwrought design; so the design challenge is clear.
In the 21st Century, we face a society and planet in crisis – a lack of economic growth, pending shortages of vital resources, and environmental degradation. Thus, infrastructure is now being asked to perform multiple functions, where 19th and 20th Century works of engineered infrastructure had very narrowly defined purposes: to move stuff, to support stuff, to power stuff. If there was an aesthetic aspect inherent in this singular purpose, so much the better – though this pure functionalism what was often celebrated as invoking the sublime.
Today, multifunctional landscapes can provide for ecological values, technical values, and cultural values – the challenge is to adapt 20th Century project implementation processes and funding mechanisms to embrace the value added opportunities and imperatives. Making multi-functional landscape systems (aka infrastructure) sublime and worthy of celebration, is one method to overcoming societal inertia. I have a deeper interest in the teaching about the sublime than just evoking grandeur that appeals to our egos, which is to inspire better stewardship of our planet by showing it’s beauty.
There will be two formal screenings of student produced videos that need jurors (February TBD and Friday, March 9th). Also looking for folks willing to teach short workshops on various aspects of documentary film production (story boarding, cinematography, sound recording/editing, motion graphics, and editing) in January, or can provide ‘master class’ feedback before final cuts of the films (February or early March).
The class meets MWF 3:00-6:00 (Jan 3rd through March 9th) at Cal Poly Pomona in Building 7. I can arrange free parking, but not much else (other than gratitude), plus credit. We’ll be going on a field trip to Sylmar in January and welcome folks to meet up with us then.
If interested, drop me a note with your availability, a short bio/list of credits, and what level of participation/topics you’re interested in so I can plan out the quarter.