The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Book Reviews

Books New to the Shelves of the CLUI Library and Bookshop

America from the Air: A Guide to the Landscape Along Your Route, by Daniel Mathews and James S. Jackson, Houghton Mifflin
A site and region-based book, as opposed to the more basic Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air that came out from Chronicle a few years ago. Despite digression into the geology of landforms, there are many interesting human landscapes discussed, using numbered annotations on contrast-boosted images taken out the window of jetliners, or vertical satellite imagery (which is less useful in this context, somehow). The book is arranged according to the general preferred routes planes take between major cities. A CD ROM is also included, so you can read it on your laptop from the airplane.

An Atlas of Radical Cartography, Lize Mogel & Alexis Bhagat, editors, Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Press
An elegantly designed boxed set of 10 maps and 10 essays about social issues from globalization to garbage; surveillance to extraordinary rendition; statelessness, visibility, deportation, migration. Maps by An Architektur, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Ashley Hunt, Institute for Applied Autonomy with Site-R , Pedro Lasch, Lize Mogel, Trevor Paglen & John Emerson, Brooke Singer, Jane Tsong, and Unnayan. Essays by Kolya Abramsky, Maribel Casas-Cortes & Sebastian Cobarrubias, Alejandro De Acosta, Avery F. Gordon, Institute for Applied Autonomy, Sarah Lewison, Jenny Price, Jane Tsong, DJ Waldie, Ellen Sollod, Paul S. Kibel, Heather Rogers, Jai Sen, Visible Collective & Trevor Paglen.

Blue Monday: Stories of Absurd Realities and Natural Philosophies, AUDC Robert Sumrell & Kazys Varnelis, Actar
Stylish book, with contributions by CLUI program manager Steve Rowell. Essays include Ether: One Wilshire (the telecommunications hotel in Los Angeles which was the subject of an exhibit at the CLUI) and Swarm Intelligence: Quartzsite Arizona (a temporary community of RV snowbirds which forms seasonally in the American southwest.)

Poles, by Frank Breuer, Faulconer Gallery
A typological photography book about local utility poles, with their complicated connections, cumbersome transformer cans, and podlike splices, standing like expressive footmen of infrastructure, united in their task, but each distinct in the particulars of their position and burden, delivering current to the buildings of the land.

Sorry, Out of Gas, Architecture's Response to the 1973 Oil Crisis, Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini, editors, Canadian Center for Architecture
From an exhibit about the ways designers and builders (and industry, culture, and politics) reacted to the first contemporary oil crisis of 1973. Though the book/exhibit brings together some interesting and relevant architectural examples, graphics and publications, like the journals of the pioneering Underground Space Center at the University of Minnesota, it is most effective at conveying the sense of the enthusiasm and creativity of those times, which dissipated as the years went on (the solar panels that Jimmy Carter installed on the roof of the White House were removed by Ronald Reagan), until we find ourselves there again now, in a sense, picking up where we left off.

The Playbook, by Alex S. MacLean, Thames & Hudson
Another arresting book from Alex Maclean, whose aerial photographs provide a graphic design lexicon of the landscape of the nation. This one is themed towards the recreational sites, like pools and amusement parks.

Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes, Edited by Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center
Catalog of the current exhibit at the Walker Art Center, this exhibit is all over the place, but then so is suburbia! Nice essays and photos, on subjects like corporate campuses, suburban neologisms ("blandburb," "nerdistan"), and photos by Larry Sultan, Julia Christensen, and Ed Ruscha (parking lots). The Center's contribution is Autotechnogeoglyphics: Vehicular Test Tracks in America.

The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, Thomas Dunne Books
This popular book does have some interesting imaginings about the built landscape falling apart if humans were to all of a sudden disappear. For example, New York City's subways would flood within a few days, and their roofs—the streets above them—would collapse, turning Manhattan into a network of canals. The world's nuclear power plants would probably melt down, sending clouds of radioactive gasses all around the globe, exterminating and mutating animal species for millennia, and the petrochemical plants of the world would explode and burn for days and weeks, spewing rich toxic brews into the atmosphere in huge quantities, and a chain reaction of pipeline and well fires could ignite entire oil fields, that could burn for hundreds of years. See? We are important after all!

New from the CLUI - Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy
A portrait of the Hudson’s shores, focusing on man-made sites rarely seen by those who travel along the river’s banks, some of which can only be seen aerially, including factories, prisons, power plants, quarries, and parks, current industries, and planned redevelopments. Hardcover, 176 pages, 85 full-color aerial photographs, with full-color 34-inch gatefold map.