Posts from the Expressions Category

If you’re like me – and I figure most people in 2017 are – you listen to music while walking, running, ride sharing, or driving through the landscape. Music has the power to express complex emotional and spiritual concepts, teleporting the mind to a certain time and place, or even bring about an altered state.

Beyond its role in audio-visual bias in spatial perception, your earbuds and track 13 on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu album can heavily influence experience and emotions, or even spiritually connect to your surroundings.
This augmented experience becomes landscape around you.

When I think of the tie between music and landscape, or music and nature, I think of a few examples of music augmenting the landscape. An artist can teleport you to a certain setting. An artist can reify a natural landscape’s unpredictability or ominous scale. Music can explain concepts within nature that are too broad for our consumption. Music can mimic nature. An artist can capture and isolate parts of nature.

That is a lot to think about!

Before we get into it let’s get some definitions out of the way:

  • Landscape n. – in a broad sense, the features of an area of land and its landforms; how these features interact with the broader nature and man-made features. This includes features both physical and cultural, natural and anthropological. Landscape can also be described as setting, a geographical location at a moment of time.
  • Music n. – sounds combined to produce a beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
  • Nature n. – the physical world and its organisms; features and products of the earth as opposed to humans and human creations.

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I was first exposed to the seminal short film produced in 1977 by the iconic team of Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten as a student of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. I remember the mind-blowing film even today, one that takes viewers on a visual journey that begins with an aerial shot of a man lounging in a park, gradually zooming upward at scales of 10 further and further away, until the perspective is taken to the edge of the universe. From there the viewer is zoomed back downward back into the hand of the man lounging the park, eventually transported inward into an individual atom within the man’s body.

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As another winter storm system fast approaches to immerse Los Angeles in torrential rain to threaten to our state’s infrastructure and landscape to the limit (this one supposedly the biggest one yet), it’s easy to forget only a short while ago we were all praying for rain. Little did I know California has employed the aid of rainmakers utililizing alternative methods to manifest results and mitigate the drought.

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The video above is my love letter to TV Guide. I credit my education of United States geography to a Fisher Price jigsaw puzzle and the pages of TV Guide during my childhood. In August 1979, our family vacation took us on the road from our home in Baton Rouge to visit cousins in Indiana and friends in Cleveland. At the time, the country was covered by about 90 different regional editions of the eponymous weekly magazine dedicated to television – which roughly corresponded to the largest television markets (as opposed to the states).

Each time we entered a new TV Guide region, my parents bought me a corresponding regional edition to add to my collection. These magazines and that jigsaw puzzle conceptualized my perception of the United States landscape and its geographies – including the two perceived Kentuckys that persist in my mind to this day. (more…)

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All photos by Calvin Abe

Over the holidays I went up to Sacramento to visit my family. While there I decided to visit the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Herald, California, about 12 miles from my where I grew up. Although the plant was decommissioned back in 1989, it was built in the early 1970’s when I was in high school, and was operational for nearly two decades. The plant was eventually decommissioned due to operational problems.

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This post and accompanying photos are not presented to argue the merits or criticism of nuclear power, but simply to share a dualistic thought that popped into my head as I drove around the facility: the admiration for the bucolic beauty and sculptural qualities of the reactor towers as structures – each sitting atop the landscape – while at the same time recognizing their potential to alter the face of the landscape for thousands of years in an instant. Chernobyl in 1986, Three Mile Island in 1979, and the recent Fukushima incident still remain vivid memories of this dualism between potential and pitfalls.

Is the future of nuclear power a sustainable or resilient approach? I’ll let you decide. But here are a few of my photographs from the two days I was there to view and witness their history firsthand.

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