Metabolic Studio

Bending the River Back Into the City by Lauren Bon


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.

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