The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Images of Interstate Culverts


2844 Interstate 80 spans the salt flats in northwestern Utah, and for a distance of 38 miles has neither a curve nor an exit. This linear element of conveyance cuts through the salt flats from east to west, dividing it in two. Drainage between the north and the south exists only at a few points where culverts have been provided perpendicularly through the raised gravel roadbed. CLUI photoALL THE CULVERTS and drainage pipes along the salt flat stretch of Interstate 80 were photographed by the CLUI and shown in an exhibit at the MAK Center in Los Angeles. The exhibit, Double Crossings, showed these images alongside the work of Austrian artist Hans Schabus, who made a map and photographs of every bridge and pipeline crossing of the Los Angeles River.

Together, these two crossings suggested a whole made from complementary opposites: one urban, one rural; one wet, one dry. The highway in the salt flats is a linear form made by the human need for conveyance, crossed occasionally by structures beneath it that allow for drainage to flow through small tunnels, pipes, and culverts. The Los Angeles River, conversely, is a flowing linear drainage channel, spanned by human needs of conveyance, traveling over it, on bridges.
These two sets of crossings, though separated geographically, converged at the MAK Center, in parallel exhibits of the maps and photographs by Schabus and the CLUI, with images projected on opposite sides of a dividing wall. Together these works comment on different qualities of conveyance, different extremes of environments, different modes of perception, and our relationship to what was once known as the “natural world,” but is now something else entirely. 

Double Crossings continues through March 2, 2013, at the MAK Center Mackey Garage Top, 1137 S. Cochran Ave, Los Angeles.