Sublime Solar Farm

Photographer Jamey Stillings documents the sublime of Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System for Wired.

Aerial Photos of Giant Google-Funded Solar Farm Caught in Green Energy Debate | Raw File |

Aerial view of Solar Field One at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) on October 27, 2012. Photo shows completed tower construction and heliostat (pairs of mirrors) installation. Mojave Desert, CA

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Some of his photos evoking the Nazca lines or Michael Heizer’s Complex – this is quite the documentation of the infrastructural sublime.

Aerial Photos of Giant Google-Funded Solar Farm Caught in Green Energy Debate | Raw File |

Clark Mountain and ground work for future power block of Solar Field One. January 14, 2011.

View north of Ivanpah Solar showing all three solar fields with heliostat installation complete in Solar Field One in the foreground. October 27, 2012.

There is a remarkable amount of intact vegetation beneath the heliostats – making me wonder if it is possible to design a low-impact solar farm?

Installed heliostats in Solar Field One and adjacent section of undisturbed desert terrain of the site’s alluvial fan. January 6, 2012.

Installed heliostats in “safe” or resting position. June 2, 2012

Workers install a heliostat on a pylon in Solar Field One. June 4, 2012.

More of Jamey Stillings pics at Aerial Photos of Giant Google-Funded Solar Farm Caught in Green Energy Debate | Raw File | and Stillings’ own website.

Infrastructure Gap

This post has been sitting on the back burner for two years since I came across the post’s title over on the EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater. The EPA uses the term to describe the lack of funding, not  physical or technological short-comings. ‘Infrastructure gap’ evokes a deeper range of issues and challenges that our society (and planet) face that aligns with my own interests.

Hillary Brown’s essay on Infrastructural Ecologies over at Design Intelligence (also discussed on Mammoth), brings up some interesting parallels – though it is also about the lack of infrastructure investment and less about the interaction of infrastructural systems (aka an ‘ecosystem’) or about infrastructure that provides ecosystem services.

  • First principle: Systems should be multipurpose, interconnected and synergistic.
  • Second principle: Infrastructure should work with natural processes.
  • Third principle: Infrastructure should improve social contexts and serve local constituencies.
  • Fourth principle: Infrastructure should be designed for resilience, to adapt to foreseeable changes brought about by an unstable global climate.

[I’m starting to hear echo’s of some of my earlier writing or maybe I’m just being egocentric…]

Architects seem to be appropriating the term ecosystem to describe typologies and hard relationships, like in Lisa Tilder’s & Beth Blostein’s Design Ecologies: Essays on the Nature of Design. Which isn’t about ecology (or nature) at all, but typologies of design processes. Perhaps this mis-use can be blamed on Jeff Kipnis (the overlord of architecture at OSU where Lisa and Beth both teach.) Full disclosure, Beth was a classmate of mine.

The proposed Mediterranean Grid is a project that aims to span technological gaps, a sea, economic and social gaps to bring Sahara desert based solar power to Europe, and provide power for desalination projects and cities in Africa. Continue reading

Untitled Infrastructures by Andy Wilcox

There are many cool things about co-teaching with Andy Wilcox this quarter at Cal Poly, a highlights has been our discussions about wildness and infrastructure. Even if he wasn’t a valued colleague, his paintings falls into the genre of infrastructural art that is frequently explored here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7). So I’m very happy to help publicize his current show at Curbside Gallery in Santa Ana.

Untitled Infrastructures

Andy Wilcox

In the adaptation to and of the nascent and seemingly unorganized wild of the in-between lays a fertile future. There is a hidden layer of the city that crouches between roadways and bridges, factories and rails, curbs and gutters—a collateral infrastructure of mythic potential.  Accepting this condition as the foundational structure for a higher functioning future, Untitled Infrastructures envisions a future of feral values and a wilder future.  Welcome to the wilderness.

Opening reception May 5th, 7pm-11pm
Curbside Gallery
Santa Ana

Andy applied for the Rome Prize [pdf of his application] this year, but wasn’t selected.

Infrastructural Art – Toshio Shibata

One of my favorite landscape photographers, Toshio Shibata has long focused (pun intended) on the infrastructure around Japan.

I employ a particular kind of sensitivity for approaching landscapes and sceneries like still lives. It’s in way as if I was placing them right in the palm of may hand for examination. That’s why I never included the sky. Showing the sky would mean going back to depicting landscapes.

Water (or maybe time) is a recurring element of his work, as his long exposures and deep focus reveals an ephemerality that many other photographers of infrastructure fail to capture. Many of his images look at the vast civil engineering works to reinforce hillsides and streams to try and stop time from increasing erosion…

Shibata was interviewed at EYEcurious in 2009.

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Infrastructural Art – Jason Mitcham

Jason Mitcham is best known for animating the Avett Brothers’ video “head full of doubt/road full of promise“.

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise from Jason Mitcham on Vimeo.

His paintings provide an interesting view of urban landscapes and infrastructure that remind me of William Kentridge’s work without the moral angst of apartheid, perhaps Mitcham’s work expresses the existential angst of modern life with our lack of connection to place.

This Land is Your Land from Jason Mitcham on Vimeo. Continue reading

Chris Burden’s Metropolis II

photo by Alissa Walker

Was hoping to write a review of Chris Burden‘s latest installation at LACMA, but I’m just too busy right now.

Burden (who was once called the ‘most dangerous artist’) has moved from performance art, to earth art, to installations, where each evolution of his oeuvre retains vital aspects of his previous genre. So Metropolis II is as much a performance piece, as it is a work of earth art too. It is also ‘infrastructural art’ in that urban transportation systems are the main subject of the piece.

Wonder if there are any VW Beatles whizzing around Metropolis II?

photo by Alissa Walker

Three ½ hp DC motors with motor controllers, 1100 custom manufactured die-cast cars, 13 HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks, steel, aluminum, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-base paints, rubber, sundry adhesives. 9 feet, 9 inches (H) x 28 feet, 3 inches (W) x 19 feet, 2 inches (D). Image: © Chris Burden. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by E. Koyama. Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation.

Video directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, filmed in 2011 at the Burden’s studio in Topanga, CA.

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