Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio

Bending the River Back Into the City


Downtown Los Angeles

Bending the River Back into the City is a sculptural artwork that utilizes Los Angeles’ first water commons and allows the currency of water to create social capital. This long-term project will clean LA River water to potable standards, and the water will become part of a distribution network that will deliver water to individuals, organizations, and institutions. This phased project will begin to manifest in 2018 with the creation of an inflatable dam that will sit in the LA River—bending and driving a percentage of the river water through a diversion canal, and into a treatment facility. Bending the River Back into the City will eventually provide a waterwheel named LA Noria that reanimates the legacy of the waterwheels that drove water on and around the site in the 19th century.

The Liminal Camera:

In 2010, Lauren Bon, and artists Richard Nielsen and Tristan Duke formed the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, which is devoted to reinventing photography in a post-industrial era. The Liminal Camera is a giant functioning camera made from a 20-foot shipping container, which can be seen in the courtyard of MASS MoCA from October 22nd through to November 27th. The team has traveled the country making photographs with the Liminal for the past six years. Transported by flatbed truck, barge or train, the Liminal is both a camera and a darkroom in which the Optics Division captures and develops monumental format negatives. The word “liminal” refers to a threshold and an in-between spacea fitting name for a camera where people are invited to come inside, and experience where image and place meet.


About Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio

Derived from the Greek word for change, “metabolism” is the process that maintains life. In continuous cycles of creation and destruction, metabolism transforms nutrients into energy and matter. Lauren Bon’s studio practice includes a team of individuals that work together across a range of investigative platforms, transforming resources into energy, actions and outcomes.

Ms. Bon is trained as an architect and is a practicing visual artist. Her Metabolic Studio creates “devices of wonder” that are specific to sites; investigating land and water use and positing new modalities in thinking and behavior. The Inter-Mountain West, stretching from the Rockies to the Sierra Nevada is a terrain formed by the forces of water and fire over glacial time. It is our shared watershed that is the focus of the geographic scope of the Metabolic Studio’s work.

The Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio returns photography to its simplest technology, building its own tools and sourcing its own chemistry and even mining silver to produce emulsion. The Optics Division’s handmade processing and silver mining allude to the independent maker of images and the alchemy of silver and water and dust.

Community Listening Session

Join us on January 12, 2017 for our next community listening session. In preparation for the park opening we are asking what type of programming you would like to be available in the park. Join us and tell us what you think!






Uncovering The Past

Beginning to Uncover the Past

Visitors to Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) often wonder what exactly makes our park historical. This is due to the fact that most of our material history is underground. This past week, State Park archaeologists have been at LASHP uncovering some of that history.

The Dig Begins

In 1875, the Southern Pacific Railroad made its way into what is now downtown Los Angeles, connecting the city to the transcontinental railroad in the north. The property chosen for the new passenger depot and yard was located in what is now the middle section of the park and was considered far from the existing town center at the time. 4 years later, in 1879, passenger traffic had increased to the extent that a hotel was constructed next to the depot, offering weary travelers a respite with a “parlor sitting room” and restaurant serving quick “25 minute meals.”

The Entrance of the Hotel

This past week State archaeologists uncovered the foundation of the hotel and what was once the ice house for the rail yard. Based on their current excavation, we now know that the ice house walls went much further down than originally thought. It appears the ice was kept cool below ground in something much like a basement. They also located what they believe to be a hotel water closet, based on terra cotta and metal piping that was found.

The Hotel

Here are a few photos documenting the dig and illustrating how the layers of history within our park continue to reveal hidden stories about the park and the city’s past.

Foundations of Rooms at the Hotel
The Hotel
The Ice House

L.A. Conservation Corps Turns 25

L.A. Conservation Corps

April 29th, LASHP was the site of a very special day for LACC. They joined us at the park to celebrate their 25th year of service in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Conservation Corps is the largest non-profit urban conservation corp in the nation. The organization provides education and work experience for at-risk and school aged youth in local environmental and conservation projects. The event was a wonderful celebration of the success of the Corps and the dedication of its young members working to improve their communities professional opportunities. Click the link to view LACC’s slideshow of images from the wonderful day!

Here are a few of our own.

North Spring Street Gets A Facelift

Cars travel south via one lane on the Spring street bridge

Upon arriving to work this morning, we noticed something different about North Spring Street. Crossing the bridge, heading towards downtown, we were relegated to one lane. Thinking that this may be related to the widening of North Spring Street and possibly the widening of the Spring Street Bridge, we went and talked to one of city workers sweeping up the street. What he told us was that they were reducing North Spring to one westbound lane in order to give room to workers to begin to widen the south side of North Spring.
City worker blasts off old street stripping on North Spring street

Although the lanes are being, what looks to be permanently restriped, he mentioned that it will only remain this way for three to four months as construction happens, moving back to two lanes in either direction, once the street widening is completed.
Van moves past LASHP utilizing the single southbound lane on N. Spring

One already beneficial outcome of this adjustment is the reduction in speed of motorists traveling westbound on North Spring. Unfortunately for cyclists, the already somewhat hairy stretch of North Spring has become even less bike friendly, either take the lane or ride directly in the gutter. For those bicyclists that may want a 1/2 mile of respite while traveling westbound, they may enter the park where Baker Street meets North Spring, granted you have to hop off your bike to go under the parking gate, but they then can ride through the park and exit at our main entrance which is a stones throw from the Chinatown Gold Line stop.

Arrows now tell users to merge into one lane heading west over Spring St bridge

As adjustments to North Spring Street move forward, we will be sure to keep you updated. Also if any readers have any more information feel free to leave a comment and enlighten us.

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