view stage three: part three here.

02.27.10 Stage Three Overture DVD Release

This is my first time authoring a DVD from the road-- a practice i'll try and keep up. Of the 14 new vids on the disk, five were shot and edited less than a week ago. It was a modest run and several copies are already spoken for so if you want one get in touch. Here it is in the support section.

Among the disk's four "extras" is fitness (extended). A bit too long to be worth uploading, it's a week worth of training at the brownlands site condensed into thirteen minutes of concentrated effort. Exhausting.

02.25.10 Port of Long Beach

Left: Not using these at the moment.

Right: A ship is loaded with scrap metal, probably bound for China. Fer fuck's sake, what are you guys building over there?

The Port of Long Beach provides a rare opportunity to view multiple stages in the oil "production" process. There are pumping units sucking crude out of the ground, refineries and facilities further treating the refinery’s byproducts (see sulfur dunes and calciner rotary kiln.) A staggering amount of resources, from manufactured goods to raw materials, are channeled through the port every day. Tractor-trailers idle in long lines, monstrous cranes load and unload around the clock, oil tankers dot the horizon and helicopters circle overhead. Everywhere you look are containers in orange green and blue, stacked to the sky. The noise, hydrocarbon scented air, feverish activity and sheer scale of the operation make for predictably unpleasant conditions if you're not sealed in the cab of a truck.

02.25.10 Valero Wilmington Refinery

This 120-acre city of silver spires, storage tanks and miles of tangled pipe refines 135,000 barrels per day. Its desulfurizing capabilities make it particularly hungry for the lower-grade high-sulfur crude that arrives by tanker from far away lands. In addition to the usual suite of refined products, Valero Wilmington supplies Southern California with 15 percent of its asphalt so Los Angelinos can continue to sit in traffic on well-paved roads.

02.25.10 BP Wilmington Calciner Rotary Kiln

As it slowly rotates, this 270-foot long steel pipe superheats and dries a refinery byproduct called “green coke,” turning it into a calcined product with various industrial uses. Its 13-foot diameter makes it one of the world’s largest such contraptions. It has quite a presence and puts off enough heat to warm the whole block. Grinding along since 1982, the kiln has acquired a gorgeous patina of rust. Cryptic numbers and letters are etched into its surface and oil stains sparkle in the sun. I became quite enamored with the massive object and spent a good portion of my time at Long Beach watching the late afternoon sunlight gradually warm the colors of it surface. Beautiful in its texture and terriffying in its steady dogged movement.

02.24.10 Jervis Bay

Watching these cranes work was like watching dragons feed. Harbor Patrol Officer Michael Mayor interrupted the shooting if the piece's daylight half with a thorough frisk but let me off on account of not being a legitimate enough threat. While searching my bags he says, sounding almost disappointed: "This is all just bike stuff." This was of course after he'd recited the "(not) since 911" monologue I’ve heard quite a few times now.

I'm really into the video's editing, thinking it some of my best work in this regard. The audio is essential so no laptop speakers. And yes... that is indeed a dolphin swimming through the shot. I like the way the spreader appears to watch the animal for an extended moment before plunging into the hull for another container.

02.24.10 Wilmington Sulfur Dunes

Sulfur is not something you wanna be pumping into the atmosphere (acid rain) so most refineries remove it from their refined product in a process known as hydrodesulfurization. Nearly all of the 64 million tons of sulfur produced annually worldwide is byproduct from refineries. Alberta, Canada, with its oil sands industry, literally has more than it knows what to do with.

This facility liquefies the yellow powder and sends it away in tanker trucks. If it doesn’t keep up with the local refineries’ output, it’ll be buried under mountains of the stuff. As sour (high-sulfur) crude increasingly becomes the standard, will the citizens of Long Beach find themselves battling their way to work through blinding sulfur storms? Kidding aside, the dunes are truly a sight to behold. Oxidation takes their bright yellow through shades of decreasing saturation to a dull greenish yellow-grey.

02.24.10 The Age of Limits

TheAgeofLimitsC1.pdf (page one) TheAgeofLimitsC3.pdf (page two)

This article about the project appeared last Sunday in the Davis Enterprise: my hometown newspaper. The author, Jonathan Edwards, put a substantial amount of time into it-- chatting with me for hours, borrowing a handful of texts, and attending all three of the sendoff events. I think his efforts are clearly evident in the piece. The ending gives me chills.

Oops: near the end, 'bionic' should read 'biotic.'

02.23.10 Shooting at The Port of Long Beach

Just finished two days of work at the nation's busiest shipping port. Friend and fellow artist Jessica Lah was my guide and charm for day one, which explains why port security didn't catch up with me until day two. Expect four or five new vignettes real soon. Thanks Jessica!

I like how her photo simultaniously refers to three distinct stages of the industrial age.

02.20.10 Industrial Noise Trio

industrial_noise_trio.mp3 (headphones recommended)

Here's a short audio piece, binaural recordings from three locations:

1. part of the cooling system of a combined-cycle power plant in Pittsburg, CA
2. a really obnoxious pump on the aqueduct
3. unidentified piece of equipment in the Elk Hills Oil Field

02.18.10 Harris Ranch

If you're a fan of the In-N-Out Burger franchise, one of these animals could be in your next double-double. This industrial feedlot halfway between Sacramento and LA must have some unruly livestock to need all that razor wire fencing.

02.17.10 Off-stream: San Louis Reservoir and Dam

So wait a sec… it's a pumping plant and a generating plant? Well done guys... well done. Apparently we were so convinced there should be a lake here that we built a three and a half mile long earthen wall to a height of over 300 feet and pumped in 652 billion gallons of water. Lets go waterskiing!

02.15.10 Day Nine: (February 14, 2010) Carrizo Plain, CA to Santa Barbara, CA

upper left: The end of the oil age has already arrived for this little fillin' station on the Carrizo Plain. I like the cinderblocks holding the corrugated sheet metal roof down.

upper right: Not far from these woodpiles were piles of old tires, piles of rusting farm equipment and piles of hay bales.

lower left: From Pine Mointain Pass this road drops 4,000 feet in 28 glorious miles.

lower right: We interrupted our descent to bandage a fallen Harley rider. Although shocked and delirious, he turned us on to the rails-to-trails bikepath that would safely take us the last six miles to the ocean.

02.15.10 Lakeview Gusher No. 1

There were no devotees—no pilgrims gathered in warship at this crater near Maricopa, CA. It was eerily quiet, just the sound of multicolored triangular plastic flags flapping in the breeze. The flags, along with a stone monument, are the only visible signs that something significant went on here.

It was a much different picture, almost a hundred years ago to the day, on March 14, 1910 when the drilling of an exploratory oil well tapped a gusher of biblical proportions. For a year and a half, oil spewed uncontrollably from the hole, pooling into a 60-acre lake of viscous black liquid people floated on in wooden skiffs as if escaping some purgatorial flood. The well’s driller later commented that his borehole "must have cut an artery of the earth's great central storehouse of oil, whereas all previous wells had been merely pinpricks in the earth's thick hide."

Pardon all the theological references, but if the religion of progress had established sites of homage, this one should be high on the list. Officially America’s most spectacular gusher, the well produced nine million barrels of oil during those magical 18 months of superabundance.

02.15.10 Day Eight: (February 13, 2010) Taft, CA to Carrizo Plain, CA

upper left: A mural inside Jo's Café. Taft, CA.

02.13.10 Day Seven: (February 12, 2010) Coalinga, CA to Taft, CA

left: An aggregate mine oustide Coalinga, CA.

02.11.10 California Aqueduct


02.11.10 Day Six: (February 11, 2010) Three Rocks, CA to Coalinga, CA

left: If i could bust you out of there i would.

right: Rodent skull found on the aqueduct, strapped to Brett's headlight.

02.11.10 Day Five: (February 10, 2010) San Louis Reservoir, CA to Three Rocks, CA

left: unintentianl exponential curve

right: watery ruts

02.11.10 Day Four: (February 9, 2010) Patterson, CA to San Louis Reservoir, CA

left: bee boxes

right: sunset over San Louis Reservoir

02.11.10 Pittsburg Industrial Belt


02.11.10 Day Three: (February 8, 2010) Antioch, CA to Patterson, CA

left: Our campsite overlooking Antioch’s water supply: Contra Loma Reservoir. That hill behind our tents provided the early morning shots that start off the 'Pittsburg Industrial Belt' video vignette.

right: It was smooth sailing down the aqueduct bike path until we arrived at the leg's most intimidating obstacle: Interstate 5. Here's a four part audio recording of us weighing our options, negotiating a barb wire fence, and dashing across four lanes of 80-mph traffic. Approximately 22 minutes.


02.11.10 Day Two: (February 7, 2010) Rio Vista, CA to Antioch, CA



02.11.10 Day One: (February 6, 2010) Davis, CA to Rio Vista, CA


02.09.09 Brownlands Spiral

Transforming the Davis Brownlands into a mythic ruin.

Here's a link to some footage taken at the spiral site by a friend. We're building a construction fire so it's mostly just me wrestling with some branches. Thanks Golriz.

view stage three: part one here.

stage three: part two

Davis, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
stage three overture