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Posts Tagged ‘Film’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Montreal, a giant, multiyear art installation blends technology and history.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The face appears like an apparition. Ghostly white and mottled by leaves, it floats, disembodied, turning to look at viewers as they walk along the Old Port of Montreal toward the old clock tower, where a 30-foot-high woman floats as if in water. These giant video projections are two of 24 mesmerizing tableaux created as part of Cité Mémoire, conceptualized by the visual artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon and the playwright Michel Marc Bouchard for the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city.

Beginning each night at sundown, the installation tells the story of Montreal through a series of five- to seven-minute vignettes, each of which features an influential (if sometimes obscure) character from the city’s history. The filmed scenes are projected onto buildings, trees, and cobblestone alleyways, and viewers, armed with a mobile app and headphones, make their way through the city, listening to the characters’ thoughts and an original score. (Inspired by Chicago’s Crown Fountain, for which the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa projected the faces of some 1,000 residents onto twin glass block towers, the faces in the trees belong to 375 modern-day Montrealers.)

Developed over five years, the $18 million project debuted in spring 2016. (Funding has come from a variety of government grants and corporate sponsors.) This May, the city unveiled four new stories. Unlike so many video mapping installations, Cité Mémoire eschews frenetic and brightly colored lights and instead treats the often intimate, sometimes harrowing scenes more like “animated murals,” in Lemieux’s words, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Rosetta S. Elkin Live Matter exhibition and publication, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, with support from Harvard Arnold Arboretum, 2015. Image courtesy of Rosetta Elkin.

On April 20, the American Academy in Rome announced its class of 2017–2018 Rome Prize recipients, which includes the landscape architects Rosetta Elkin and Alison Hirsch with Aroussiak Gabrielian.

Chosen by a jury chaired by the architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis (and featuring the landscape architects Lisa Switkin of James Corner Field Operations and David Fletcher), Elkin, Hirsch, and Gabrielian will join a multidisciplinary cast (more…)

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In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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The spaces made by the culture of incarceration.

The spaces made by the culture of incarceration.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A featureless night, seen from a bus window, carrying family members across distances to the prisons where loved ones are confined. A former mining town in Appalachia where residents talk about prison jobs they see coming, and, importantly, keeping. A Los Angeles parklet as a lever to force registered sex offenders to leave a neighborhood. These are some of the places that comprise The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, a new film by the geographer and filmmaker Brett Story. They aren’t in prisons or next to prisons, but the system is everywhere.

If we are only just beginning to reckon with the devastating social and economic costs of (more…)

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A new film focuses on Jens Jensen.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Jens Jensen didn’t care much for the White City. According to the new documentary Jens Jensen: The Living Green, he, along with the architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, rejected the European influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and embraced the prairie and its ecology as the American landscape idiom. Today, many of his pioneering ideas about the use of native plants and landscape conservation have new currency. Jensen, who was born in Denmark but is closely associated with Chicago’s urban parks and midwestern landscape preservation, will be the subject of an Earth Day observance at the New York Botanical Garden. A screening of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Robert Grese, ASLA; the filmmaker Carey Lundin; and Jensen’s great-granddaughter, Jensen Wheeler Wolfe.

Jens Jensen: The Living Green Film Screening and Panel Discussion at the National Building Museum, April 14, 2016, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

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Produced and directed by Austin Allen, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, Claiming Open Spaces is a documentary on the perception of parks, in cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, from the cultural perspective of the African Americans who use them. As noted by a young Walter Hood, ASLA, the cultural makeup of the communities that use city parks is often left out of planning and programming, which can alienate the people meant to use them. This lapse comes up in interviews with residents who fondly remember a neighborhood park before it was redesigned and with kids who wonder why they are constantly hounded by police for simply enjoying time in the park.

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Beneath many older cities across the globe are mysterious worlds hidden from sight since the Industrial Revolution. Rivers, once lifelines to wealth, were exiled underground as they became breeding grounds for disease. Burying rivers solved the sanitation issues of the times, but the aging infrastructure today falls short of modern needs and cuts off humans from nature. Caroline Bâcle, the writer and director of the new film Lost Rivers, which follows the stories of these forgotten waterways, spins an intriguing narrative of the rivers themselves but also of how people might connect with them. I spoke with Bâcle, who is based in London, about her experiences during the project and what Lost Rivers could mean to cities today.

How did you get the idea to make a film about these “lost rivers”?
My producer Katarina [Soukup, founder of Catbird Productions] and I—I think she stumbled upon it first, on the website of Andrew Emond. The film kind of opens with him. He’s a photographer who was living in Montreal but is in Toronto now, and he basically went into the underground of Montreal and took photos of its lost waterways. We were just fascinated by his website and thought, “Oh, my gosh, there are rivers under Montreal, my hometown. How incredible.” We thought it was a unique thing to Montreal, that it was only our city, and we had this amazing, incredible, mysterious history. And so originally we thought, “Oh, we have to make a film, or do something important about Andrew and his work or about the history of Montreal,” and we just developed the idea, and the minute we started doing any kind of remote research on “lost rivers,” we found that it was a part of urban history around the world. So the subject kind of opened up to something much bigger.

(more…)

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