elena harvey collins


as this project evolves, I feel the need to re state my concerns. I do feel as if things have become a lot more focussed.

I am drawn to the left behind structures and spaces of urban sprawl. Strip malls, parking lots, big box stores, gas stations and car washes. What is the meaning of these spaces now that their utility has vanished?  Apparently abandoned, desolate, and possessed with a strange beauty they are nonetheless appropriated by the surrounding communities for their own hyper-local uses and become public space. In this way space is protean, magical, and available. I am fascinated by this colloquial re use as I feel it speaks to urban planning and design as well as poetry. 

Transportation continues to be a concern, as this landscape is inextricably linked to it. Writing on spatial justice, Edward Soja said “we must be insistently aware of how space can be made to hide consequences from us, how relations of power and discipline are inscribed into apparently innocent spatiality of life, how human geographies become filled with politics and ideology”. The landscape then is never neutral and embodies those relationships. Take the example of scale. Historically used to impress, awe and demonstrate power and might, scale in the car-designed landscape is intrinsically dehumanizing. How many footsteps are there to one car length? When walking in a car scaled landscape one becomes painfully aware of being a not-have. Traversing the parking lot becomes an epic journey. The windowless walls of big box stores are not intended to be viewed by a walker coming upon them from behind or the side, and have you ever tried to order from a drive through window on foot? When not in a car, one ceases to be a legitimate entity. I plan to address the question of scale by projecting these ‘spaces’ large enough to provide an immersive experience for the viewer, to put the viewer in the place of the person who voyages on foot through this post consumer landscape.

I am an incidentalist. By being in these spaces, witnessing and capturing the phenomenology of light and shadow and small moments that demonstrate the idiosyncrasy of space, I intend to create a space for the viewer to enter and contemplate the meaning of these spaces. Another way in which I am attempting to capture the shifting, layered poetry of space is through the 'space drawings’ below. I deposit a light, ephemeral material in a uniform shape into the space and leave it there, allowing the vagaries of wind, water and other elements to move over the surface. In this way, the site performs itself, making visible the invisible forces and processes coursing through the space.
Next idea:project a video of a person walking onto the wall of the now vacant Value city. Subvert the relationship of scale by making the person huge. It would be amazing to project real time images of people walking across the parking lot as they are doing it but project them huge. 

urban hawk


things we can do with a parking lot


come away with me


early riser