DESERT X 2019, Coachella Valley

Two new Augmented Reality drawings, Margin of Error and Revolutions (both 2019) are on view at Desert X until April 21, 2019.  Viewers can experience the artworks using the UPDATED 4th Wall app, by tapping the “DESERT X” box. These AR works in the Coachella Valley create awareness of past, present, and impending environmental disaster, while leaving no physical trace.

The updated app is available on iPhones and iPads (iOS11+) and Androids with ARCore. WIFI IS REQUIRED FOR INITIAL DOWNLOAD, but not once the app is installed. For more help, see our Coordinates/Desert X Help Page.

Curator Neville Wakefield writes: “With nearly half a century separating us from the time in the late ‘60’s/ early 70’s when land art was being created almost exclusively by men and machinery used mostly to scarify the earths surface, one of the conversations that trails any show of this kind is what would land art look like now? Nancy Baker Cahill’s AR/VR project suggests one possible answer. Bracketing both ends of the Coachella valley it plays on the contrast between the technological utopia – represented in the north by the mid-century architectural dreams and more recently the promise of renewable energy and entropic dystopian condition of the Salton Sea to the south east. Riffing on the idea of the wind farms as an AI garden she fills the air above with what might be the blossoms and blooms of benign technological procreation. Over the Salton Sea we find the swirling particulate form of a dust cloud composed of forms drawn from the remains of the life that once flourished there. Both invoke what Timothy Morton terms hyperobjects – entities of such vast temporal, spatial and philosophical dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place. To see download the 4th Wall app.”

Margin of Error (2019)

Go to: The Salton Sea Recreation Area Visitor Center, Salton Sea, 100225 State Park Rd, Mecca, CA 92254. Walk out toward the beach and tap the Desert X button. You will be directed to the drawing which will appear, animated, over the Sea.

The Margin of Error AR drawing/experience floats above the water at the site of the Salton Sea Recreation Area, a site marked by terminal, toxic environmental damage. The work imagines the Salton Sea as a “hyperobject:” a phenomenon whose scope and impact we can scarcely comprehend. The Salton Sea’s rate of evaporation must be constantly mediated to avoid tipping into a full-scale, airborne environmental catastrophe. With no stabilization outlets, the Salton Sea has already destroyed much of what was once a natural habitat for multiple species of birds and fish. The drawing refers to this razor-thin line which, if crossed, will have even more devastating biological, chemical, and geological impacts beyond our imagination.

As the drawing swirls and pulses above the sparkling water, Margin of Error asks the viewer to consider the ungovernable nature of Nature itself, artifice, magical thinking, particulate life (and death), peril, and beauty. With original marks inspired by fish carcasses, agricultural runoff, particulate phosphorus, salts and minerals, the drawing is animated at a dizzying pace. It attempts to suggest organic, inorganic, and biological forces trapped in an unnatural, ongoing and unpredictable murmuration. It leaves no trace but will act as an otherwise invisible, unsettling, and ineffable poetry in space.

Revolutions (2019)

Located near the Palm Springs Wind Farm, Whitewater, CA

Go to: The juncture of Tipton Road and Route 111 in Whitewater, CA 92282. Go just past the train tracks and face the distant wind farm. The best vantage point is between the two telephone poles. Tap the Desert X button. You will be directed to the drawing which will appear, animated, over the Sea.

Revolutions is an AR drawing/experience that imagines the Palm Springs wind farm as a monolithic, AI “garden.” The blossoms float among massive turbines which were “planted” to help harness energy from the natural wind corridor of the Valley. While clean energy is far preferable to fossil fuels, the wind farm underscores the inescapable human effects on the land. The turbines remind us of the degree to which we have crossed a rubicon for what we have done and will continue to do to the desert landscape in order to mitigate ongoing damage there and elsewhere.

Inspired by richly chromatic, natural desert blooms, a series of animated “blossoms” rise above the turbines. Over the course of roughly two minutes, they expand and shatter as if they had just been plucked, thrown up into the air, and buffeted against the sky.

Revolutions asks viewers to imagine the fate of desert life and lives when (often sacred) land is razed in the interest of development. Some particulate fragments of the exploding blooms gesture South East toward the Salton Sea, as if to call or respond to its AR partner hovering above the polluted water. As the blossoms float and dissipate, they nod to airborne pollutants in the Valley. These AR blossoms churn at their own pace in conversation with––but also in subtle defiance of––their revolving, man-made relatives below.



Curators: Nancy Baker Cahill and Debra Scacco

Use the 4th Wall app and the map to experience the works in Defining Line. Recorded experiences serve as an ever-expanding, collective archive of the exhibition. Please hashtag #defininglineLA or follow the project on Instagram @4thwallapp. For more help, see our Coordinates instructions.

The journey to a little known but extraordinary Elysian Park vista runs along a thin road that hugs the rim of the Elysian Reservoir. Guided by directions from 4th Wall, the free Augmented Reality (AR) app that democratizes the experience of viewing public art, visitors are greeted by a view of concrete ribbons at the simultaneous confluence of rivers and highways. By using a smartphone or tablet to launch 4th Wall and selecting “Coordinates,” Carolina Caycedo’s “Curative Mouth” is revealed on screen. The large-scale virtual artwork features fishing nets collected during the artists’ work in global communities impacted by the privatization of water.

The experience described above is at the heart of Defining Line: a groundbreaking, public, AR art exhibition exploring how lines connect, divide, and define communities. Co-curated by Nancy Baker Cahill (Founder of 4th Wall) and Debra Scacco, the exhibition places powerful, site-relevant works in AR along the Los Angeles River. The locations encourage visitors to explore, reconsider and interact with the river, and to recognize the key role this vital line plays in shaping the history and experience of moving through Los Angeles. These public artworks were either made for or translated into AR to discuss the cultural weight and history of this 51-mile expanse––while causing zero environmental impact or harm.

Works in Defining Line

For a list of works and the best locations for viewing, please visit this page on the 4th Wall website.

Carolina Caycedo, “Curative Mouth,” (Location: 90031)

Andrea Chung’s “Filthy water cannot be washed ” uses non-native species as a metaphor for impacts of colonization affecting both land and people. (Location: 90039)

Near the site of the 1858 water wheel, where Tongva women would collect and distribute water to the first ten families in the city of Los Angeles, Tongva Elders Julia Bogany and her thirteen-year old great-granddaughter Marissa Aranda discuss the modern identity of Tongva women. (Location: 90012)

A giant boat sails on a former floodplain towards the downtown skyline, her sail a map of the urban landscape upon which she encroaches. Nova Jiang’s “Cartographer” is a harbinger of rising water levels in the face of rapidly accelerating impacts of climate change. (Location: 90012)

Debra Scacco’s “Origin and Destination Study” floats above the Spring Street Bridge, drawn from a 1954 study for a monorail following lines of the Los Angeles River. (Location: 90012)

Star Montana’s “Krystal” proudly stands above Cesar Chavez Bridge at the entrance to Boyle Heights. (Location: 90033)

Beatriz Cortez’s “T’zolkin” remains in Bowtie Project where its sculptural twin once stood, in solidarity with its partner AR work in Nuevo Laredo (Mexico), a memorial the artist created in remembrance of  Claudia Patricia Gómez González. (LA Location: 90039)

Re-imagined signs by Gala Porras-Kim tell the untold story of Gabrielino-Tongva remains, exhumed to make way for a new park at the site of the installation. (Location: 90094)

Defining Line is co-curated by Nancy Baker Cahill and Debra Scacco. Artists are Julia Bogany and Marissa Aranda, Carolina Caycedo, Andrea Chung, Beatriz Cortez, Nova Jiang, Star Montana, Gala Porres-Kim, and Debra Scacco.

LA Times article on Defining Line