L AN DS CAPES OF O V E R L O O K
F I E L D
S C H O O L
2 0 1 4
LANDSCAPES OF POWER O V E R L O O K
F I E L D
S C H O O L
2 0 1 4
Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes Department of Landscape Architecture University of Oregon 2014
I CREATED YOU. I CAN DESTROY YOU.
MINE, MIDDEN, ARTIFACT
KATE TROMP VAN HOLST
IN T ROD UCT ION
INTRODUCTION Landscapes of Power It is the nature of the American power grid that whenever you use electricity, an equal amount is simultaneously being generated at a regional power plant. Plants slowly increase and decrease production in daily and seasonal cycles to match our needs and desires for electricity. The quickness of electricity – the way the grid moves power instantly, the way lights come on or heaters warm – seems magical. But that quickness masks the slowness and expansiveness of the power landscape. The infrastructure of electricity is very large and very slow. Hydroelectric dams dry entire rivers and store millions of gallons of water over thousands of acres, interrupting the movement of aquatic species. Coalmines remove mountains, undermine regions, and leach rusty drainage into rivers, killing plants and animals for decades. Windmills the size of skyscrapers interrupt viewsheds and flyways. Natural gas pipelines and high-voltage power lines cut across ecosystems, interrupting valuable patches and corridors. Like most of our infrastructures, the electrical infrastructure is ubiquitous and largely designed by engineers for the most efficient function of a single purpose: delivering electricity. But landscape architecture was conceived as a synthetic discipline. Frederick Law Olmsted, speaking in 1886, said, “The professional fields respectively of the Architect, the Engineer, the Sanitary Engineer and the Landscape Gardener or Landscape Architect are in the main well-defined. Yet, at certain points, one merges into the other in such a manner that they may be regarded as so many convenient subdivisions of one field and each profession as a branch of one trunk profession.” So many of the systems we rely on are invisible: water flows when we turn the tap and lights glow when we flip a switch. This disconnect between system design and resource use generates indifference and ignorance; we cannot care about that which we do not see. Understanding both extractive and renewable forms of electrical generation, how those systems operate and how they impact the landscape, is fundamental to redesigning these landscapes. Doing so challenges the designer and rewards the citizen with opportunities to see, interact with, and critique the systems that make contemporary urban life possible.
Overlook Field School The context of northeast Pennsylvania, situated between a past dominated by coalmines and a future heavily influenced by the natural gas industry, provided an ideal setting for exploring landscapes of power. Overlook, a 400-acre property just outside of the “Electric City” (Scranton, PA), was the home to students of the fieldschool, as well as a canvas for site-specific artworks. For four weeks, landscape architecture students from the University of Oregon studied the landscapes of power, building on a spring seminar on the same topic. Through readings, films, field trips, and site visits to energy landscapes (landfill methane recapture projects; hydroelectric dams and power plants; natural gas drilling sites, extraction wells, and pipelines; coalmines; wind and solar arrays) students developed an extensive knowledge of energy generation, its infrastructure, and its impacts. Landscape architecture has the potential to render visible the invisible infrastructures of our culture, creating a site for dialogue. How much power do we need? How much is enough? What costs are we as a society willing to pay for that power – costs to people and communities, to rivers and forests, to plants and animals? This investigation ultimately led to the creation of site-specific art that examines and critiques the sources of electricity and our cultural relationship with resources, energy production, and energy consumption. Some installations incorporate renewable energy, some convey messages of energy sustainability, and others work with and reveal the presence of natural energies. All address the questions of our relationship to resources, to landscapes, and to each other.
A NEMOGRAPH G R A Y S O N
M O R R I S
ANEMOGRAPH (WINDWRITER) Grayson Morris Anemograph uses nautical technology to reveal the power of the wind. A sheet metal sail hangs from a freely turning mast; the boom holds and India ink dispenser which applies a beautifully inconsistent stream of ink onto a continuous roll of vellum. When the sail moves in response to a gust or a breeze, Anemograph writes the wind. The velocity of incoming winds pushes the sail side-to-side and paints an interpretation of wind redirections and gusts. The resulting paintings resemble the spikey line of a seismograph, shifting to a painted landscape as the wind changes direction and intensity. Mountains, plains, and valleys (some riddled with oil wells) can be seen in the ink, written by the wind. The peaks of those mountains coincide with real spikes in wind speed. Numerous complexities were encountered when trying to simplify the Anemograph without disrupting the essence of the machine. Building a wind-powered machine that required little-to-no human interaction proved to be quite difficult. In the end, a level of participation was encouraged. Visitors pull the roll of vellum, determining the speed and duration of the wind event recording. This creates a linear painting and focuses on the wind event as well as the visitorâ€™s relationship with the machine.
CONSU MED K R I S Z T I A N
M E G Y E R I
CONSUMED: COMMUNICATING ENERGY USE WITH LAND-ART INFOGRAPHICS Krisztian Megyeri The growing demand for renewable energy is a trend necessary for a sustainable future. However, it is clear that there is no â€œmagicâ€? source of power that could possibly support the levels of consumption of Western societies. While there is tremendous interest and investment in finding cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, there is not much of a dialogue about how we could simply consume less. Perhaps the thoughtless and wasteful use of energy is due to the general disconnect between its production and consumption. How much energy does my laptop use? And how much of a natural resource does it actually take to generate that energy? Consumed investigates how land-art can be used to communicate these ideas while providing aesthetic intrigue. A path in the forest leads through a series of installations that can be interpreted as infographics about resource and energy consumption. The three-dimensionality of the pieces aims to heighten the visitor experience by making the information more poignant and relatable.
Installation One The first installation on the path is a bar graph conveying multiple layers of information. The charred wood is a tangible, relatable representation of the volume of biomass required to power certain aspects of our lives. Each column has a weight that corresponds to a calculated amount of potential energy. The largest column weighs 20kg, enough to power a window A/C unit for 1 hour. The middle column weights 10kg, equal to the amount of power required to operate a television for 2 hours. And the smallest column weighs 5kg, equivalent to the amount of energy required to power a laptop for 4 hours. The second layer of information is represented with a more conventional interpretation of a bar graph, where column heights are proportional to the values that they represent. To illustrate that a high standard of living can be attained at a fraction of U.S. consumption levels, this graph compares residential electricity use between the U.S., Japan, and the global average.
4,500 kWh U.S.A
2,200 kWh Japan
750 kWh World
Installation Two As the path winds around and through the trees, the second installation is revealed in a clearing framed by the surrounding forest. The smaller globe, woven together with twigs and vines, represents our planet. According to ecological footprint calculations by the Global Footprint Network, if everybody in the world consumed at U.S. levels, we would need 4.1 Earths to sustain our lives. Thus, the larger, gaudy, artificial globe represents the planet we wish we had.
Installation Three The final installation also has multiple layers of information. Orange bands are tied around 24 trees scattered throughout the forest. It was calculated that this amounts to approximately 15 metric tons of dried wood biomass, which is just enough to power an average U.S. home for two years. The purpose again, is to provide a clear representation of the amount of natural resources required for our daily lives. While the marked trees appear random and scattered, when viewed from a marked spot, the bands join to form a continuous line graph which represents the historic and projected amounts of global fossil fuel production. A pile of anthracite coal marks the beginning of the fossil fuel graph. The tree wrapped in white represents where we are on this graph. It is well known and agreed upon that we have nearly reached the peak of fossil fuels. What is not known, is how we will continue at current energy needs when our current fuel sources start to decline.
billion barrels of oil equivalent per year
you are here 80
liquids (primarily oil)
E L E CT RIC F ESCU E A N D R E W
J E P S O N - S U L L I V A N
ELECTRIC FESCUE Andrew Jepson-Sullivan Long, flexible, brightly colored tubes arc skyward, forming a thicket of grass-like stems. Pointy metal inflorescences dangle at the end of each stalk, flashing and glinting in the daylight, the reflected light bouncing around the forest clearing as they move gently in response to the wind. Solar panels at the top of each stalk soak up energy from the sun, mimicking the process of photosynthesis. Energy flows from solar panels, through wires to a battery, where the energy is stored for later use. When the sun sets, the energy is released; in the darkness, a swarm of bright lights can be seen, inviting those who see it to investigate. This is Electric Fescue, a new species of grass only found in one place in northeastern Pennsylvania. Like other plant species, Electric Fescue gathers energy from sunlight in a photosynthesis-like process. The installation, which takes inspiration from the prevalent, undulating fields of grass at Overlook, explores the use of renewable energy in art and landscape architectural design. Electric Fescue was constructed with rebar posts, brightly painted PEX irrigation tubing, solar energy assemblies, and aluminum sheet metal. The solar components were â€œharvestedâ€? from solar lawn lights. Each solar assembly contains a photovoltaic (PV) panel, a light emitting diode (LED), a rechargeable battery, and a light-sensitive switch that regulates how energy from the battery is used. When there is light, the switch directs energy gathered from the PV panel to be stored in the battery. When night falls, the switch flips and directs energy to the LED bulb. This mechanism creates a self-sustaining light display that can be maintained without human input or an external power source, creating an off-the-grid nighttime landscape.
HOWL M I R A N D A
H A W K E S
HOWL Miranda Hawkes Howl is an interactive sculpture that explores the generative potential of wind at Overlook. Using the reverberative technology of a pipe organ, Howl employs sound to reveal the presence and power of the wind. Individual tubes affixed to the outside of the sculpture harmonize together as the wind passes over them. A seat is fastened to the inside of the structure, allowing a person to sit and experience the installation. Howlâ€™s wedge-like shape amplifies and directs sound toward the participant, creating an immersive experience at the center of the sculpture. The entire machine pivots, inviting the participant to tune Howl to the conditions of the moment. Howl both influences and is influenced by the local landscape. Its purple color provides a strong visual contrast to the seasonal fluctuations of the surrounding grasses, and in doing so, intentionally alters the viewshed and shapes perceptions of the site. Howl also takes advantage of local wind patterns, being sited where wind currents are consistently strong at Overlook.
I CREAT ED YOU. I CA N DEST ORY YOU. R O X I
T H O R E N
I CREATED YOU. I CAN DESTROY YOU. Roxi Thoren This work is a series of photographs which are directly related to the narrative of power in the landscape. Each picture relates to an event or moment in time that influenced the trajectory of coal mining, a practice that has shaped both the cultural and physical landscapes of Pennsylvania over the last 200 years.
Anthracite Coal Anthracite coal is over 87% carbon, and burns at the highest temperatures of the several classes of coal, making it extremely valuable for industrial and residential use. Northeast Pennsylvania is the only place in the United States where anthracite coal is currently mined. Coal is formed over millennia, as plant materials settle in swampy environments. Water prevents decomposition; layers of sediment compress the layers of organic matter, first into peat, then into coal. Ten feet of plant material compress into one foot of coal. Coal is not made from dinosaurs.
Centralia, PA In 1962, a fire at the town dump in Centralia lit an exposed seam of coal, which spread to an abandoned mine and from there into the mines beneath the town. The fires have been burning for over sixty years, cracking the ground, venting carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and creating dangerous sinkholes throughout the town. In 1983, the government began relocating families and demolishing houses. The town is now almost entirely abandoned. Centralia is not alone. Over 200 surface and underground fires currently are burning in 14 states, including the Laurel Run fire, near Wilkes Barre, which has been burning since 1915. Dinosaurs did not breathe fire.
The Knox Mine In January 1952, miners working the Pittston bed beneath the Susquehanna River compromised the riverbed. The ice-heavy river broke through its dangerously thin bed and drained into the Knox Mine. Although mining operations were legally restricted within 35 feet below the riverbed, on the day of the disaster miners were working less than 2 feet below the river. Twelve men are entombed in the mine. Though the mine is now sealed off, river water continues to flow and seep through the old shafts. When water flows through coalmines, it becomes acidic. The acids react with soluble iron in the river, producing a yellow-orange material commonly called yellow boy. One of the dinosaurs is named Yellow Boy.
M I NE , MIDDEN, ART IF ACT K A T E
T R O M P
V A N
H O L S T
MINE, MIDDEN, ARTIFACT Kate Tromp van Holst Mine, Midden, Artifact explores the relationships between power, production, material culture, and waste. The manufacture of material objects relies on fossil fuels, as does the transport of these objects from origin to destination. Power is used in the consumption of these goods, in the form of cooking fuel, and heat, and lights for homes. In societies with little economic power, very little in the way of useful material culture is discarded. In contrast, societies with abundant wealth often discard objects of material culture before they wear out or are repaired. The abundance of energy our society has enjoyed for over a century has led to an abundance of wealth and an abundance of resulting refuse. Landfills are physical representations of our material culture. Mine, Midden, Artifact is the result of the careful excavation of midden heaps at Overlook. The objects found in these small landfills tell the story of material culture at Overlook, with found objects dating to the 1930â€™s and earlier. The objects were carefully curated into a sited installation, located in two neglected buildings on the property: an old pump house and a power generation building. Our culture of consumption, where new, replaceable, and disposable objects are preferred and prioritized, is often viewed as civilized. While this lifestyle does provide security against the forces of earth, it also produces huge amounts of waste and chaotically interferes with natural systems. The two installations that comprise Mine, Midden, Artifact, taken together, symbolize the disparity between the perception and reality of our material culture.
The Pump House This installation is representative the darker culture of power in the region of northeastern Pennsylvania, the landfills and coalmines. Coal mounded in the center of a compass-like form of artifacts reinforces this darkness, as does the lighting of the space, emanating from under piles of brown, green, and clear bottles. A projection of ants, scurrying to save their eggs from the excavation of a midden heap, plays directly onto the cinder block wall behind the installation. Gold-leafed coal, an object representative of both generation and consumption, allows people the chance to take a piece of the installation with them when they leave.
The Power Generation House The second structure still contains remnants of its past life as a power generator for Overlook: pumps, pipes, wiring, and a large generator engine. In this building a group of objects are displayed in the style of a formal exhibition. White shelves hold small, curated objects from the Overlook property, with their contents arranged in small groups, each assemblage telling an imagined narrative of the people who used them. In the corner, a pile of salt references the historic connection of Overlook to the salt industry.
WIND SCENE K E L L Y
S T O E C K L E I N
WIND SCENE Kelly Stoecklein Wind is an often-invisible force. It only becomes visible once it acts upon an object. Wind Scene is a tool for visually reading and seeing the wind. In the same way that rustling leaves or rippling water reveals the presence of a breeze, Wind Scene makes observing this phenomenon possible. The piece is made of numerous hand-crafted buoys randomly anchored in Lily Lake. The viewerâ€™s experience changes depending on the time of day and perspective it is viewed from. During the day, lengths of white fabric dance in the breeze indicating the moment where wind and water meet. The buoys playfully bob up and down in Lily Lake, translating the windâ€™s power through the movement of the water. In the dark of night the buoys disappear, leaving only a pale, warm light delicately bouncing on the horizon, revealing the motion of the wind and waves. Inspiration for Wind Scene came from observing the relationship of wind, water, and the patterns created from their interaction. Organic materials including ash twigs and log-rounds were chosen for their functionality, and for their connection to the Overlook property.
Prototypes The idea for Wind Scene unfolded with many iterations, revisions, and prototypes. Multiple side projects were created in an attempt to better understand the form, function, and material of the installation, and the movement of the wind and water. Illuminated, flickering balloons were an early version of the nighttime buoy installation. MacramĂŠ panels woven from twine, cloth, and flagging tape, and chains constructed of leaves and flowers, both explored the ways in which wind interacts with different materials.
A CKN OWLED GEMENT S
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Overlook Field School 2014 / Landscapes of Power was: Grayson Morris Kristzian Megyeri Andrew Jepson-Sullivan Miranda Hawkes Kate Tromp van Holst Kelly Stoecklein
[Student, MLA 2016]
Roxi Thoren Michael McGillis Gina Reichert Mitch Cope Fraser Stuart
[Student, MLA 2016] [Student, MLA 2016] [Student, MLA 2015] [Student, MLA 2016] [Student, MLA 2016]
[Artist in Residence] [Design 99; Artist in Residence] [Design 99; Artist in Residence] [Program Assistant]
The program would not have been possible without the support and expertise of many people. Our deep thanks to Mortimer Fuller III, Susan Fuller, and the entire Fuller family. Thank you also to everyone involved in the Overlook Field School, in both Oregon and Pennsylvania: Liska Chan Anne Godfrey James Harper Laurie Matthews Mark Colombo Bill Kern Robert Ferry Elizabeth Monoian James Bennet John Hambrose Eve Kootchick Bill desRosiers Katie Lester Meg Welker Jeffrey Longhenry Ian Quate Chris Velasco Anna Zagoloff John Femal Todd Payne
[University of Oregon] [University of Oregon] [University of Oregon] [MIG Inc.] [Overlook] [Countryside Conservancy] [Land Art Generator Initaive] [Land Art Generator Initaive] [Michael Van Valkenburgh Assoc.] [Alliance Landfill] [OLIN] [Cabot Oil and Gas] [PPL Lake Wallenpaupack] [PPL Lake Wallenpaupack] [Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects] [Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects] [Freshkills Park, NYC] [Central Park Conservancy] [Eugene Water & Electric Board] [Seneca Sawmill]
Book design + editing: Andrew Jepson-Sullivan Photography + images: Michael McGillis, Andrew Jepson-Sullivan, Robert Ferry, Elizabeth Monoian, Miranda Hawkes, Krisztian Megyeri, Grayson Morris, Kelly Stoecklein, Roxi Thoren
Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes Department of Landscape Architecture University of Oregon http://landarch.uoregon.edu/ 2014
Published on Jul 1, 2014