Posts from the Expressions Category

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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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This is an exercise in aerial land use interpretation.

Sitting by the window and reading the landscape from the air, I wonder, “What below can be deciphered?” On our flight from Philadelphia to Detroit, we flew over Lake Erie and the Canadian island of Panton-le-Fou, Ontario. Centuries of European settlement have impacted the landscape below – from the buildings and roads to the fencerows and agricultural land patterns – providing clues to the astute observer as to what happened below.

What do you see when you “read” this island?

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All photos by Erik Schmahl

At the end of the year there is a tendency to wrap up the last three-hundred and sixty-five days into a packaged time thing. Once packaged, these collected memories can be put in a box, labeled, and stacked neatly on the shelf atop the previous year. For me this practice usually means emptying the refrigerator door of all out of code condiments, pruning the struggling branches on the philodendron, and clearing up space on my phone by archiving and deleting the thousands of photos I have taken since the last big purge. This practice of reflective cleansing typically coalesces with resolutions for the new year.

My original intent was to write a pedantic expose of animal agriculture’s effects on water usage in the context of California’s drought – but at the risk of a self-righteous diatribe, I decided to take a different approach to bringing in the new year.

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The following images were taken during the summer of 2016 in Japan, curated to help me express personal moments of  ‘ah-ha’ inspiration through cellular candid captures. Our phones are the ultimate documentarians – we take them everywhere and snap digital shutters vigorously, often furiously out of simple wonder for the world around us, a ritual that is easily wasted if we don’t take the opportunity to go back through and see what all the fuss was about.

Ever look back and wonder “why did I take seven photos of this curb?” These are those photos. My personal data base of design inspiration, shared.

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