This city is constructed of the different canals, pipelines, riverways, reservoirs, and reclamation centers that bring water to its inhabitants, yet often go unseen. The line drawings, each traced from an actual viewpoint of this water system, come together to form a confusing and overwhelming river atlas, a kind of guide for how to see our water.
In this city, many of the nature spaces are heavily engineered to appear natural. They have information boards explaining the processes that sustain them and depict the wild life, often avian, that live in them. What are the futures of these engineered natural spaces? Will they be actively maintained for human use, or, like the Salton Sea, be left for the birds?
This project grew out of an interest in the Los Angeles River, and the California Aqueduct system as a whole, which transports water such massive differences. Reading some of Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner further developed this interest, in thinking about the sustainability of the massive scale on which much of the American west has engineered natural processes. To create my grand drawing of this water system, I used photos that depicted different sections of the water way, and traced the infrastructure that moves the water. The resulting line drawings of views pipes and canals and reservoirs and seas then became my puzzle pieces to create a kind of atlas of views of water. The visual language of the project was inspired by the information boards and ecological system diagrams that are often placed around some of these engineered nature spaces.
For this project I really tried to embrace the brief and not commit to a final vision of the project while I continued to research and gather materials for it. The line drawing puzzle pieces were inspired by my cutting the rivers out of printed images, and a series of experiments that sought to exaggerate the presence of the Los Angeles water system for a city that so heavily depends on it. The illustration method was a new one to me, and I was pretty pleased with result, and find it to be perhaps more visually interesting than anything else. Early iterations of the drawing were more abstract, and did not reference information panels as heavily, but I added that aesthetic, as well as a literal information panel to further explain my process and the thinking that led to the illustration. I think this is a very useful strategy, and a thing to think about more: how can my projects elegantly display the process that was so important to their final form, without seeming like documentation.