Search results for salton sea

““The unfathomable, gloomy elegance of this splashing and rumbling landscape painting — the movement of the waves, the circling of the birds, the lifting of the cloud cover — is followed by an arc shot resembling a brushstroke that tells us about everything we have already forgotten while gazing at the static and precisely framed mountain: the world beyond the image.” – Alejandro Bachmann

Austrian artist Lukas Marxt initially began in search of landscapes untouched by humankind – remote places across the globe unknown or forgotten, existing in what is often referred to in geological durations as “deep time”. Across these increasingly disappearing spaces devoid of human activity, Marxt’s solitary interactions and observations within barren landscapes conjures the temporal nature of humankind’s imprint upon the planet, appearing in an instant, then as quickly fading back into the confluence of time. Over time his work has evolved to fold humankind into the narrative of the greater landscape, superimposing our world back onto a holistic perspective. His works evoke equal moments of wonder and sadness, connection and solitude.

Currently residing in Southern California during a six month residency researching the ecological and socio-political structures surrounding the Salton Sea, seven of Marxt’s videos will be screening next week on Wednesday at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. Even if you’re unable to attend next, anyone can immerse themselves into the flow of Marxt’s deep time work thanks to Vimeo.

“Aerial photography has existed since we flew balloons. What interests me is that everybody now has access to it. It has sort of become a common object. I would no longer call it a god’s-eye view because it has become so present. What interests me most is that you can steer it yourself and direct it. You can take flight and rescale the landscape in ways in which it becomes difficult to distinguish between the macro and the micro.” – Lukas Marxt

What 20 L.A. Neighborhoods Look Like Through The Eyes Of Metro Artists: : “Since 2003, Metro has been commissioning artists to create unique visions of different L.A. neighborhoods and communities for their “Through the Eyes of Artists” series. Created in the tradition of colorful travel destination posters, the works are displayed on board Metro trains and buses and intended to encourage riders to explore new destinations within the transit agency’s ever-expanding network.”

The Otherworldly Landscape of the Salton Sea in Photos: “The Salton Sea is about 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles, but its landscape could be from another world. Once-bustling marinas in California’s largest lake, located along the San Andreas earthquake fault, are now bone-dry.”

10 Reasons Architects Should Play More Video Games: “As Architects, we often consider several creative pursuits, such as sketching, painting and sculpting, as ways to develop our creative processes and hone our craft. But, have you ever considered that playing video games could hold the same benefits? Probably not, but here are 10 reasons why you should start to.”

A Flower Belongs in a Meadow: “Kazuyuki Ishihara is known around the world for his garden designs. He has won 8 gold medals in various categories at London’s annual Chelsea Flower Show since 2006. In 2016, he received the President’s Award, an honor given to a work chosen from all categories. This year, Ishihara is competing once again, aiming to be the first person to win the President’s Award twice in a row. Tune in and watch his gardening magic.”

One Less Car-centric City: Our new favorite urbanism podcast. “How can we reimagine our streets and turn them into dignified, safe, and healthy places for people? Oslo is on its way to transforming its downtown into a completely car-free district, in an ambitious plan to make the city even healthier through walking, cycling, and public transportation. But even in Oslo they can encounter the usual problems when it comes to business owners and parking concerns.”



This past weekend I had some friends visiting from Chicago who put me in charge of planning our weekend travels. If you want to fly halfway across the country to see a massive ecological and engineering disaster, I’m your woman. A few Airbnb searches later and our exotic vacation on the beach of the Salton Sea was booked. Welcome to the neighborhood.


The Salton Sea is an endorheic lake and drainage basin in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys of Southern California. This vast inland lake, the largest in the state, is the lowest elevation of the Salton Sink and receives water from the New, Whitewater, and Alamo Rivers. The Sea is also a retention basin for surrounding drainage systems and agricultural runoff. A perfect setting for a weekend getaway.


The inland sea has a long history and has served as home to different inhabitants along the way. Deposits from the Colorado River created fertile farmland in the Imperial Valley and cycles of water flow and evaporation have historically happened every half century. Native American fish traps can still be found which were moved around in relationship to the changing character of the water.

From the 1850’s on the Sea has taken on a number of names including The Valley of the Ancient Lake, Cahuilla Valley, Salt Creek, and Salton Station to name a few. The Salton Sink was the site of a major salt mining operation until 1905 when an accident led to the seas current state. Today the sea is most famous for its infill from a California Development Company engineering mishap. Irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River to increase water flow into the valley. The canal overflowed and over the course of two years the historic dry lake bed was filled.

In the 1950s and ’60s the area was transformed into a hip resort town with swimming, water-skiing, yacht clubs, and golf courses. The California Department of Fish and Game stocked the lake with fish from the Gulf of California and the sea soon became a popular fishing spot for humans and migratory birds alike. Over time increasing saline levels and pollution from agricultural runoff saturated the sea and the freshwater began to evaporate. Algae blooms, fed by agricultural run-off, resulted in a foul smelling shoreline. By the 1980’s the cities surrounding the sea were close to abandoned, and mass numbers of fish began to die due to lack of oxygen in the water. The good times were over. (more…)

All photos by Clarence E Lacy Jr.

There are three questions that can never be answered:

What is the meaning of life?
What is love?
What is nature?

I don’t dare attempt answering the first two, but I will take a shot at answering the third.

Landscape architects and hipsters alike occasionally take a pilgrimage in search of the #authentic. Defining nature is like finding an authentic taco truck: it’s authenticity is solely within the parameters in which you examine it.

Looking to Merriam-Webster, “nature” is defined as inherent character or basic constitution, also as the external world in its entirety.

So, nature is everything outside? This makes it seem as if nature includes plants and animals in all exterior spaces; parks, conservation areas, recreation areas, plazas, any exterior space.

Let’s dive deeper.

The Cambridge Dictionary gives us a more interesting definition:

“All of the animals, plants, rocks, etc. in the world and all of the features, forces, and processes that happen or exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth.”

That’s a mouthful. Even offers a definition that refers to nature as a phenomena of the physical world void of the human impact or hand. That is one heck of a lens in order for us to focus upon the  authenticity of nature.

According to this definition, nature is a state of untouched beauty. Although there are still places on Earth that have not been touched by humans directly, it is important to note the impacts upon the planet are never localized to our physical footprint. Thus we must consider that our impact upon these “natural” processes is felt well beyond where we live. Small things done locally have impacts on a global scale, and can alter the future.

In 2016, the Washington Post published an article about “untouched nature”. The article notes the impact humans have had upon the earth, and also how untouched landscapes haven’t really existed for thousands of years. Of course the validity of this perspective depends on your definition of human impact and how you judge the human footprint, but the discussion brings other questions to light.

If we are all part of nature, what is the tipping point where technological advancements and the accompanying wastes related to these systems warrant the label of “unnatural”? Is it mass farming? Species extinction? Animal husbandry and domestication? Hybridization and species introduction? The Industrial Revolution and fossil fuel usage? What were the anthropological moves that started this deterioration of the pristine landscape?

I propose instead of searching for an authentic, pristine nature of yesterday, designers should adopt the responsibility to protect the clean air, water, land, and species still existing today. We should take the opportunity to understand what works in these new environments we have created, specifically what is adaptable and what is resilient.

I did not answer the question, did I? Truthfully, I never really wanted to. My goal was to offer a departure point for the reader to discover their own definition. Like life and love, it is more important for each of us to develop our own definition and meaning, back it up, and finally believe in it. It’s in our best interest and nature.