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Here’s one ‘arcade’ you’ve never played

Architecture professor impresses visitors with his landscape machine at Los Angeles Aqueduct exhibition

Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine for the Owens Lake, Landscape Morphologies Lab @University of Southern California
The Owens control project uses a rapid landscape prototyping machine to improve the design of dust mitigation landscapes at the California lake. (Photo/courtesy of Alexander Robinson)

Alexander Robinson describes his Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine as “an interactive arcade-style machine that lets you ‘play’ sculptural infrastructural landscapes and tune them to your preference.”

It is wowing visitors, along with Robinson’s robotic-arm-modeled sand sculptures, in the current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions group show “After the Aqueduct.”

Robinson, a USC School of Architecture assistant professor, is one of a diverse group of artists and designers who explored the Los Angeles Aqueduct and its surrounding land as inspiration for the exhibition.

Completed in 1913, the aqueduct, which originates in the Owens Valley, has been the main potable water source for Los Angeles, an arrangement that has remained contentious to this day.

The aim of Robinson’s machine is to improve the design of dust mitigation landscapes at the Owens Lake.

According to Artbound

KCET’s Artbound blog, in reviewing the exhibition, had this to say about his invention:

“Certainly the show’s most technologically ingenious approach to determining the future of the Owens Valley region is USC landscape architect Alexander Robinson’s “Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine for the Owens Lake Dust Control Project.” This machine allows individual users to custom-envision their own distinctive post-Aqueduct Owens Valley landscapes by playing around with various contextual environmental parameter settings. When these designs are complete, the machine can print out physical postcards with vistas of the new Owens Valley that each neophyte land use policymaker has created.”

Kelly Shannon, director of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at USC, said, “The ongoing work of Alex Robinson into the greater Los Angeles landscape is extremely important in terms not only of the important environmental stewardship questions it raises, but also of how such pressing issues can be effectively communicated with different public communities and user groups.”

Other artists in the exhibition are Nicole Antebi, Lauren Bon, Barry Lehrman, Peter Bo Rappmund, Chad Ress and Kim Stringfellow, who is the curator.

The exhibition runs through April 12 at 6522 Hollywood Blvd.


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