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2004.12.11

Artist Inquiries II: Street Parking in Los Angeles

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Glowlab founder Christina Ray recently collaborated with her father for a show in Santa Monica, CA called Artist Inquiries II: Street Parking in Los Angeles. Ray and her father designed an informational sheet that was supplemented by photographs and drawings to depict the Los Angeles stresses and excitement in the pursuit of satisfactory parking. Details regarding the questionnaire and the artist statements can be found at the site under Artist Inquiries II: Street Parking in Los Angeles.

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This project questions the urban landscape and the design of the personal use within that landscape. In Ray's artist statement she describes the ease of mind by not having a vehicle in Brooklyn thereby relieving her from worrying about "auto insurance, the price of gas, or alternate-side parking restrictions". Indeed, living in New York and even Providence, RI myself, the design of the urban landscape is more condusive for promoting walking. In fact, whenever I am in New York, I intentionally leave my car behind because there is no need for one. By contrast, when I recently lived in California I experienced first hand the necessity for a vehicle, even to go around the block. It wasn't so much that I became lazy when I lived in California, but that the area did not allow for me to comfortably walk from one location to another.

Ray touches upon this design difference in her statement, "As I received the photographs [from my father], I compared the tree-lined streets and clean sidewalks of Los Angeles to those of my own neighborhood. Over the past few years, I've photographed and made drawings of various cars and trucks on the streets of Brooklyn. The contrast between the two locations is significant." The contrast in the urban landscape is indicative of the American urban design evolution. Eastern towns developed while neighborhoods were the vitality of a place. Western towns developed a tad later, but late enough that the automobile became the staple of the place, removing neighborhood from number one priority. Suburban Nation by Andreas Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck directly address this design evolution and attempt counter designs to the sprawl developments. Although I cannot agree with their criticizm of architecture, I can agree with them upon the vitality of neighborhood design and the importance of maintaining its precesnce in contemporary urban landscapes. The documentation provided by Ray and her father show a first person account of a specifically designed difference in the ways in which we live because of a difference in the priority of land usage by designers.

Ray and her father, through a study of daily routine show how perception of place and conscious realization of the routine reveals the nuances that create that everyday environment. Within realizing this environment, we understand why we appreciate and therefore undestand the desires for inhabiting that space. We know the differences of urban space design, but we understand further how we chose to plug into that design. The work is politely engaging, allowing the viewer to generate their own realizations one way or the other, therefore allowing the work to equally engage car-based or neighborhood-based audiences. The project is able to sucessfully engage these audiences because it is created from different areas of perception. While Ray is intensely looking at urban land use and design, her father regards the spaces he occupies as his everyday environment, although now he engages this environment with acute detail for time, place and situation. The choice to display the two perceptions with both visual and literary based mediums further displays the collaborative effort put forth in the father-daughter team and lets an audience know this type of observation is possible no matter how far apart we are.

Posted by Gabe in cartography :: geo-data | Permalink

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