Bay Area Shorescan
3.5 hour-long video of the shorescape

3323 The Bay Area Shorescan is visible in the exhibit Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay, on view at the Oakland Museum of California, August 31, 2013 to February 23, 2014. CLUI photo

WITH OUR HISTORY of programming about the Bay Area, curators at the Oakland Museum of California asked the CLUI to be involved in the production of material for their exhibit Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay. The proposal we came up with was to create an aerial portrait of the entire Bay Area shoreline, to try to capture the whole of the region in a single, kinetic image.

The resulting video is in some sense an extension and inversion of Edward Muybridge’s famous 1878 panorama of the city. While not technically an aerial photo, as it was taken from a building on the ground, Muybridge’s multiple-framed image, from the top of Nob Hill, shows a sweeping vista of rooftops and streets extending outwards to the Bay, where islands and distant shores are visible, fanned out in the grey horizon. It is a point of view from a central point, an epicenter locked on the ground, a fixed perspective, radiating outwards.

Conversely, the CLUI image is taken from without, looking in from a big loop, and from a continuously moving perspective. It extends the notion of what this city is now, more than a century after Muybridge–a regional megalopolis, always moving, along a transformed shore–no longer a centralized node.

Delivering a sense of the regional was part of the goal, to see the whole of the Bay Area as a place, a nine-county mega-city of 7 million people, divided and united by the big wet space in the middle.

One of the effects of an awareness that one is living in a vast, regional place is a heightened possibility of the unknown. Incorporating a beyond into our midst permits other things, unfamiliar things, to enter one’s perceptual sphere, and habitat. Changing the scale in this way also leads to an increased sense of connectivity to the national and continental fabric.

The great city around the bay, encompassing Oakland, Fremont, Palo Alto, Tiburon, Martinez, Benecia, Pittsburg, and so on, is indeed vast, unknown in the aggregate, and most definitely connected to the national fabric. Half the coastline of California, they say, is in the Bay Area, something that could even be an understatement, if you measure the fractal-like shoreline in the marshes and the delta.

The CLUI video, showing the whole of the shore of the Bay, is broken down into chapters. It starts with entering the Bay at the Golden Gate (going under the bridge), and follows the shoreline south, and around the Bay in a counter-clockwise direction, turning around at the bridge at Antioch, where the Delta begins, and heading back out the Golden Gate. It’s a journey of around 250 miles, at 70 miles per hour. Whether you sit there the whole time, or just do the math, it’s the Bay Area shoreline in 3.5 hours. ♦