Anadol and Weil’s UnderLA: First Street Bridge and The Origin of the LA River, is a visual descent below the surface of Los Angeles via scrolling images of lithologic soil samples. The photographed samples are taken by geologists at 10-foot intervals from the surface to 1400 feet below the ground.  At one thousand feet the images represent material dating over a million years, at fourteen hundred feet as far back as 2.5 million years to the Pliocene Epoch.

To create this piece, the artists worked with USGS Geologists to obtain data and photograph soil samples from two Los Angeles monitoring well sites. They digitally processed the individual photographs to produce monumentally-scaled projections. The 27-minute videos are interspersed with data visualization sequences created from 3D lithologic models and hydrographic well data showing fluctuating water levels from these same wells – a reminder that LA’s aquifers are stressed by the continuing drought. The combined imagery represents a landscape portrait updated for arid times, a visual creation story in vertical sections revealing the beauty and vulnerability of the aquifer system.

The sequences will be projected across the banks of the Los Angeles River at two sites: The First Street Bridge in downtown Los Angeles and at the Origin of the LA River in Canoga Park.  The First Street Bridge, built in 1929, was designated an historic monument in 2008, The Origin of the LA River marks the coming together of Bell Creek and Arroyo Calabasas. 

The program is comprised of five video sequences:

Lithologic Model of the Los Angeles Basin within Los Angeles County
CGI Animation, 39 sec

LOS2 •  Descent from -10′ to -1400′
Video, 29 minutes

Water Levels • Monitoring Wells 2778/LOS2  1936-2016
Hydrograph Data Visualization, 7 min

TORR2 •  Descent from -10′ to -1280′
Video, 29 minutes

Water Levels • Monitoring Well 906D  1934-2016
Hydrograph Data Visualization, 7 min

The artists would like to acknowledge:

Hydrogeology Research and Data

Michael Land, Hydrologist
California Water Science Center, USGS

Daniel J Ponti, Research Geologist
Earthquake Science Center, USGS

Ted Johnson, Chief Hydrogeologist
Water Replenishment District of Southern California

Original Scores for LOS2 10′ to -1400′ and TORR2 10′ to -1280′
$3.33 (Celia Hollander)

Processing for Water Levels Wells 2778/LOS2 & 906D
Toby Heinemann

Projection Services
VER, Video Equipment Rentals
Jeff Meyer and Colin Feeney

Production Assistance
Hannah Moshay

Photo Credits

Photos of Origin of LA River on cover page by Panic Studio LA, courtesy of City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Artwork commissioned by DCA for CURRENT:LA Water © [Refik Anadol + Peggy Weil, UnderLA:1st Street Bridge © 2016]

All other photos by Refik Anadol Studio, Toby Heinemann, Richard Hollander and Peggy Weil

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